Two intense dramas one a classic by Tennessee Williams (see today's Arts Section cover), and the other based on Ray Bradbury's sci-fi novel about a future where all printed reading material is banned and burned (see story on this page) - are among this week's new stage offerings, along with a children's classic, the return of an LDS Church-oriented historical drama, a Ruth Hale comedy, a Stephen Sondheim musical and a new work at Southern Utah University.
- JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, a children's fantasy adapted by Richard R. George from Raold Dahl's beloved story, will play for 18 performances, Feb. 14 to April 11 at City Rep's Family Theatre, 638 S. State.It tells the story of James Henry Trotter, a lad who leads an idyllic life full of love and happiness until his parents are, unfortunately, devoured by an enormous angry rhinoceros which has escaped from the London Zoo. The orphaned boy is then sent to live with his mean, cruel aunts - Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. At their home, he meets an old man with a sackful of magic crocodile tongues, which - when accidentally escape into the ground around an old peach tree - cause a huge peach to grow.
It's not an ordinary peach, of course, but filled with an odd assortment of life-size creatures, which lead James on a wonderful journey of escape and excitement.
Directed by City Rep Artistic Director Joanne M. Parker, the cast will include Christopher VanBibber as James, Nigel James as the Centipede, Courtney Bello as the Old Green Grasshopper, Toni Butler as the Lady Bug and Nancy Jensen as Miss Spider.
Several players will share other roles, including Katie Peterson, Pedro Gonzales and Keith Holland as the Earthworm, Valerie Ann Heywood and Becky-Lee Reynolds as both the Silkworm and Aunt Sponge, and Jill Butler Green and Rosalie Bertrand as Aunt Spiker.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on selected Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays: Feb. 14, 16, 23 and 27, and March 6, 14, 16, 20, 28 and 30 and April 3, 10 and 11, with five Saturday matinees, Feb. 21 and 28, March 7 and 21 and April 4, all at 2 p.m.
In addition, there will be a number of daytime performances at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays-Thursdays for elementary school field trips. These must be arranged in advance.
Regular ticket prices are $7.50 for adults and $5.50 for children 16 and under. Prices for the school performances are $3.75 each (some restrictions apply).
Call 532-6000 for all reservations or further information.
- WILFORD WOODRUFF: GOD'S FISHERMAN, cowritten by James Arrington and Brigham Young University playwright Tim Slover, returns to Utah Valley after an 11-year-old hiatus, playing Wednesday through Saturday (Feb. 11-14) in BYU's Pardoe Drama Theatre.
Utah actor Varlo R. Davenport stars in this one-man show about the prominent prophet and fourth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which traces portions of Woodruff's life from his early 20s until he reaches 40.
Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for students, faculty and staff and $9 for the public. For ticket information, call 1-801-378-4322.
The one-man show was originally produced in the late 1980s with Slover performing the title role.
"Our goal was to get away from the legend of Wilford Woodruff and show Woodruff as a real person," said Slover, a great-great- grandson of Woodruff.
The piece was co-written by Slover, a BYU assistant professor of theatre, and local theatrical entrepreneur Arrington when they were screenwriters at the BYU Motion Picture Studio.
"Wilford Woodruff: God's Fisherman" premiered in Oxford, England, in 1987. It was later performed as part of the Scera Shell summer series in Orem.
"Davenport subsequently read a copy of the script and was very moved by it," Arrington said, "so he called me and asked if he could perform it. He's a fine actor with a great background, and he ultimately performed the piece in the Vernal area last year." He has also performed it several times since in eastern Utah and Las Vegas.
Davenport, who received an MFA in acting from Ohio State University, is producing artistic director for the Outlaw Trail Theatre in Vernal, where he teaches theater and film courses for Utah State University's Uintah Basin Branch campus.
For the past five years, he has overseen the development and production of "Cassidy: The Mostly True Story of Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch" written by Tim Slover for the Outlaw Trail Theatre.
The production is part of the Entr'Acte Series sponsored by the BYU Department of Theatre and Media Arts.
- YOUR WORST KNIGHTMARE, a murder mystery dinner staged by Chameleons, the Whodunit Company, of Ogden, will be presented on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, in the Golden Cliff Room, Level B of the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird Resort.
The dinner and audience participation mystery will start at 7:30 p.m. Advance reservations are required. Tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for children, 12 and under. To reserve tickets, call 521-6040, Ext. 4080.
- ANGELS ON THE LOOSE, Ruth Hale's most recent comedy, will play Feb. 12 to March 23 at the Hale Center Theater in Orem.
Eldon Randall is directing a mostly double-cast ensemble that includes Michael Christenson, Bryan Moss, Marianne Clements and Amanda Webb alternating as earthbound spouses Craig and Liz, with Tara Paige Starling, Carrie Smith, Vic Groves and Scott Wetsel trading off as their deceased - and angelic - spouses, Daphnee and Gabe.
Carynn Groves and Cassandra Hill alternating as the Little Angel.
Other players include Julie Ann Whittaker, Chris Cooper, Nick Peterson, Elise Groves, April Crowder, Adam Zeller, Jonathan Wanamaker, Jenny Taylor and Lisa Moss.
Performances will be Mondays and Thursdays-Fridays until March 7, then nightly except Sunday through March 23. All per-for-mances will be at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $6 to $9. For reservations, call 226-8600.
- INTO THE WOODS, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's slightly skewed spin on a handful of "happily-ever-after" fairy tales, will play Feb. 13 to April 6 at the Terrace Plaza Playhouse, 99 E. 4700 South, Ogden.
Directed by theater owner Beverly Olsen, the musical interweaves the stories of Cinderella, Little Red Ridinghood, the Baker's Wife, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel into a multi-layered plot.
Most roles will be double-cast, with Cindy Welhelm and Rebecca Montgomery as the Witch, Adam Cheeney and Dave Clegg as the Baker, Leslie Richards as the Baker's Wife, Paul Wilhelm and Jeff Stevens as Jack, Janae Dabb and Emily Dickerson as Little Red Rid-ing-hood, Laurel Warr as Cinderella, Jennifer Fritz, Shawnee Petersen and Alisha Williams Clegg as Cinderella's stepsisters, and Jonathan Crittenden, Bryan Moss and Ryan Walton as Prince Charming.
Performances will be Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., with one Saturday matinee at 3:30 p.m. on March 7. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for senior citizens, $6 for students and $5.50 for children. Call 393-0070 for reservations.
- SPOKESONG, a "serious" comedy set in and around a bicycle shop in Belfast, Northern Ireland, will play Feb. 12-14 and 18-21 in the Randall L. Jones Theatre at Southern Utah University, Cedar City.
Directed by Richard Bugg, assistant professor of theater arts at SUU, the cast includes Mark Houser as Frank, current owner of a bicycle shop started by his grandfather, and Melanie Nelson as his girlfriend, Daisy.
Also in the cast are Brandon Jones, Charisse Baxter and Neil Christensen.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m., with one matinee at 2 p.m. on Feb. 14. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for senior citizens and children and $2 for SUU students. For reservations, call 586-7876.