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Stages around and beyond the Wasatch Front offer something for everyone

Comedies by Noel Coward and A.R. Gurney, a classic thriller, a Halloween tale and an all-student production are among new plays opening this week around and beyond the Wasatch Front.

- "NIGHT DRIVE," a terrifying tale by Will Jenkins, will be performed by Yvonne Muir Heugly for the Babcock Performing Readers on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the Art Barn, 54 Finch Lane (in Reservoir Park, just below the University of Utah campus).Heugly took private lessons from Maud May Babcock in the 1940s, later teaching speech, drama and English in area high schools and appearing in such local productions as "Barefoot in the Park" and the Babcock Performing Readers' version of "The Cemetery Club."

"Night Drive" has been dramatized previously on television. Jenkins' books have been published in 18 languages, and 12 of them have been adapted for movies.

All BPR performances are free of charge and open to the general public. There is a nominal yearly fee, however, for those who would like to become members. The group's motto is "Bringing literature to life through live performance."

- "DRACULA," a straight-forward telling of Bram Stoker's classic horror tale, will be presented as a midweek (mostly) production this month at the Rodgers Memorial Theatre, 292 E. Pages Lane, Centerville.

Directed by Bob Walkingshaw, the play is scheduled Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 7-29, with two late-night performances at 10:30 p.m. on two Fridays, Oct. 24 and 31.

All seats are $5 each. For reservations, call 298-1302.

Also playing at the Rodgers Memorial Theatre is the recent Yestin-Kopit version of "Phantom," on Mondays and Thursdays-Saturdays.

- "BLITHE SPIRIT," the Noel Coward comedy classic about a newlywed being haunted by the angry spirit of his deceased first wife, will play Oct. 10-Nov. 22 at the Hale Center Theater, 225 W. 400 North, Orem.

Leading players, all but one double-cast, include Carl Belliston and Mark Pulham alternating as remarried widower Charles Condomine; Ashley Neves and Kierston Isom as his new wife, Ruth; Anne Swenson and Nanette Watts as his late - but highly agitated - wife, Elvira; Eldon Randall and Peter Brown as Dr. Bradman, and Nancy Douglas and Katherine Matis as Mrs. Bradman, with Maureen Eastwood performing nightly as the flamboyant Madame Arcati, who summons the late Mrs. Condomine during a wild seance.

The family maid is being played by Amy Norris and Patricia Snowdon.

Syd Riggs is directing the comedy.

Curtain is 8 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays-Saturdays, from Oct. 10 through Nov. 8, after which the play will be staged nightly except Sundays through Nov. 22. There will be one matinee at 3:30 p.m. on the closing date.

Ticket prices range from $5 to $7 for general admission seating, with a small additional fee for reserved seating. For reservations, call 226-8600.

- "THE DINING ROOM," written by A.R. Gurney ("Love Letters"), focuses on a varied group of characters delineating the dying lifestyle of wealthy WASPdom and the now neglected room which was once a vital center of family life.

Performances will be Mondays and Thursdays-Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 9-25, in the Black Box Theatre of Utah Valley State College's Gunther Trades Building (Room 627), Orem. There will also be one matinee on Tuesday, Oct. 21, at 2 p.m.

The award-winning, off Broadway drama, opening UVSC's 1997-98 theater season, is being directed by Randall King.

The cast of eight, taking on several roles during 19 vignettes, includes Georgiana Deming, Rucker Leifson, Suzanna Maguire, Bob Manning, Leslie Manning, Jason Purdie, Brittany Thompson and Ryan Williams. The various segments are all tied together by a common thread.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and $2 for UVSC students (current activity card required). Group rates are also available. For reservations, call the UVSC ticket office at 222-8982.

- "THE COMPANY OF WAYWARD SAINTS," George Herman's commedia del 'arte tale, will be staged Oct. 7-11 in the Auditorium Theatre at Southern Utah University, Cedar City.

It's about a troupe of bickering, battling traveling actors who are forced to work together for one final performance, after which a wealthy duke promises to pay their expenses home.

SUU students performing in the Mainstage II production are Brian Gibbons, Sarah Henderson, Dave Knox, Marcine Lake, Don Leavitt, Nathan Riddle, Mark Rock, Lyrissa Thomas and Duane Waihi.

Curtain is 7:30 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and children and $2 for SUU students. For reservations, call 1-435-586-7876.

- A WEEK FROM TODAY: A national touring musical, "God's Trying to Tell You Something," hosted by the Salt Lake Branch of the NAACP, will be presented on Sunday, Oct. 12, at 7:30 p.m. at Abravanel Hall, 123 W. South Temple.

The dramatic, tune-filled show has played in 155 cities and 39 states, including sold-out houses in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. For advance reservations call 250-5088.