One of the funniest comedies ever written, a Cole Porter masterpiece and a musical based on "Oliver Twist" are among this week's theatrical openings.

- "KISS ME, KATE" Cole Porter's classic "play-within-a-musical" production, will run April 7-22 at Salt Lake Community College's Grand Theatre starring Mark Gollaher and Melinda Cole Welch in the leading roles of Fred Graham/Petruchio and Lili Vanessi/Kate.Graham and Vanessi are a couple of spirited Broadway performers whose turbulent backstage romance becomes hilariously integrated into their onstage roles of Petruchio and Kate - William Shakespeare's bickering "Taming of the Shrew" characters.

Gollaher, who created "matinee idol" excitement in Hale Center Theater's world premiere of "Jane Eyre: The Musical," is perfectly suited to the dual roles of Graham and Petruchio, two men determined to tame the tempestuous and feisty Lili/Kate, women with minds of their own and not about to let any man cut them down to size.

Other performers in major roles in the show, directed by Tyson Stephenson, include Brook Robertson as gambler Bill Calhoon/Lucentio, and Victoria Matlock as flirtatious Lois Lane/Bianca (who's "Always True to You in My Fashion").

Gordon Johnson will portray Harry/Baptista and Lee C. Fobert and Paul Heslington are two gangsters who infiltrate the cast in order to keep tabs on Calhoon, who owes them a bundle in gambling debts.

"Kiss Me, Kate" contains what many consider to be Cole Porter's best score, with such hit songs as "So in Love," "Another Op'nin', Another Show," "Wunderbar," "I Hate Men," "We Open in Venice," "Why Can't You Behave?" and "Brush Up Your Shakespeare."

Ticket prices range from $4 to $10. All seats are reserved. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, beginning Friday, April 7 and continuing through Saturday, April 22. There will also be one matinee at 2 p.m. on April 22. For reservations, call 957-3322.

The Grand Theatre is located on the Salt Lake Community College's South City campus, 1575 S. State Street.

- "NOISES OFF," critically acclaimed as one of the most outrageous farces ever created for the stage, opens a six-week run on Thursday, April 6, at the Off Broadway Theatre, 272 S. Main.

Like "Kiss Me, Kate," Michael Frayn's comedy is a play-within-a-play. But the focus is on split-second humor instead of splashy tunes.

The plot involves a troupe of less-than-professional British thespians attempting to mount a new touring show. The audience sees this effort from three viewpoints - the disastrous rehearsal, the bad-to-worse situations backstage shortly after it's opened, and - in the third act - an actual performance somewhere in the hinterlands, where the troupe has gone completely over the edge.

"It's like the band playing while the Titanic sunk," to quote one line from the play.

Doyle Jenkins is directing a cast comprised of some of the region's best comedians: Bob Bedore, Eric Jensen, Melissa Porter, Russell Peacock, Kimberlee Hart, Alan Mangum, Rob Bogue, Amber Hutchings, Sandy Jensen and Bill Bedore (Bob's dad).

Performances will be Mondays and Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. from April 6 through May 20. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens and students and $5 for children 12 and under. All seats are reserved. To purchase tickets in advance, call 355-4628.

- "OLIVER!" is the award-winning London and Broadway musical based on Charles Dickens' "Oliver Twist."

The Hale Center Theater already has a well-proven track record with its annual production of another Dickens work - "A Christmas Carol" - so HCT fans will likely enjoy this tale of an orphan boy who goes from a dreary workhouse to join a band of young thieves.

Leading players in director Tamara Adams' double-cast production include Luke Baird and Kyle Kenison as young Oliver Twist, Jeni Carver and Jennie Bowen as Nancy, James Dale and David Nieman as Bill Sykes, Scott D. Morgan and Ben Carling as Fagin and Shawn Zumbrunnen and Adam Wilkins as the Artful Dodger.

Lionel Bart's rich and moving score includes such tunes as "Consider Yourself," "As Long as He Needs Me," "I'd Do Anything for You," "Where is Love?" and "Who Will Buy?"

"Oliver!" plays Mondays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. from April 6 through June 5 (excluding Memorial Day, May 29). There will also be Saturday matinees at 3:30 p.m. on April 22 and 29, May 6, 13 and 20 and June 3. Ticket prices range from $8 to $12. All seats are reserved and some performances are already close to selling out. Call 484-9257 for reservations.

Note: HCT now has Summer Fun Passes available for a package of two plays ("Pillow Talk" and "Life With Father") and another musical ("I Won't Say I Will"). The three-show passes are $19 each - or $25 for those who wish to include "A Christmas Carol." Call for details.

- "AN AFTERNOON WITH LANGSTON AND MARTIN," featuring Danny Glover and Felix Justice performing readings based on the works of Langston Hughes and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., will be presented on Wednesday, April 5, at noon, in the Grand Theatre of Salt Lake Community College's South City Campus, 1575 S. State Street, and on Thursday, April 6, at 12:30 p.m. in the Kent Concert Hall of Utah State University's Chase Fine Arts Center in Logan.

Both events are free of charge and open to the general public. (However, tickets are required for the SLCC performances. They're available in advance from room W175 at the South City campus or the courtesy desk at the school's Redwood Road campus. The Grand theater will open at 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday for general seating.)

Glover is best known for his "Lethal Weapon" film series and performances in such productions as "Silverado," "Grand Canyon," "The Color Purple" and "Lonesome Dove." Justice has acted and directed for 29 years, including his one-man Martin Luther King show, "Prophecy in America."

- "MORE MYSTERY ON THE MOOR," a solve-it-yourself mystery, returns to the Camelot Restaurant in Layton on Wednesday, April 5, and Thursday, April 20. Doors for the Hunt Mystery & Company production open at 7 p.m., with the dinner beginning at 7:30. Cost is $26 per person. For reservations, call the Camelot Restaurant at 773-1336.

- TWO STAGED READINGS of one-act MFA projects, "Painters" and "Redgrave's Men," will be presented Friday and Saturday, April 7-8, at 8 p.m. in the Studio Stage Theatre of USU's Chase Fine Arts Center. General admission seating is $2 per person.