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Xango Grand Theater
A computer-generated picture shows what The Xango Grand Theater at SCERA will look like when remodeling is completed.

OREM — At 73 years old, the SCERA theater is getting a makeover.

The five-week face-lift began this week as construction crews ripped out theater seats, tore up carpet and prepped the walls, said SCERA President and CEO Adam Robertson. The seats were gone by Wednesday, allowing construction workers access to the floor, which will be sandblasted and finished, then carpeted in some areas.

By Thanksgiving, the Xango Grand Theater should be ready for holiday movies.

"Basically, it's everything we have right now, only all brand new," Robertson said.

It is the first step in converting the old building into a state-of-the-art home for plays, movies, concerts and art programs.

"We have a five-year plan for the theater, and this first year is just to take everything we have now and make it brand new," Robertson said. "Next year, we start upgrading the theatrical side of things."

The face-lift is made possible by a $1 million gift from Xango, a Lehi-based company that markets juice made from the mangosteen fruit.

"We're thrilled that we've been able to help bolster and ensure that they have a long-term future," Xango spokesman Bob Freeze said. "Our hope was also that a commitment like this would spur others to get involved and support SCERA as well."

The five-year, $1 million commitment is doled out in chunks each year, and once the theater is up to par, Robertson said, SCERA executives will use the money to update other areas and improve some of the current art, music and drama programs.

Robertson is also hopeful that they will be able to apply for and receive funds generated by the CARE tax — a one-tenth-of-1-percent sales-tax increase approved by voters last November. The tax was projected to generate $1.6 million a year for cultural arts and recreation.

Orem city recently reviewed a feasibility study about how funds could be used, but no plans or promises have been made yet.

With renovations, the SCERA is sponsoring an "adopt-a-chair" program that allows interested community members to contribute $250 for a theater chair that would have a small name plaque. For more information, call 225-2569.

E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com