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Comedy, musicals debut this week

The premiere of a new comedy at Desert Star Playhouse, several community productions (including the popular Mormon Miracle Pageant in Manti) and two Broadway musicals at Tuacahn are among this week's new theatrical offerings.THE MORMON MIRACLE PAGEANT, which annually draws thousands of viewers to the Manti LDS Temple grounds, is scheduled for June 18-20 and 23-27, with performances beginning about 9:15 p.m.

There is no charge for admission, but those attending should plan to arrive early enough to find parking. (Motel and restaurant space in Manti itself is limited and it's not unusual for patrons to travel to Ephraim and other nearby communities for lodging and food.)

Full-course dinners are served nightly prior to performances at both the Manti Tabernacle and the Manti Stake Center. Large groups should make advance reservations by calling the pageant's information line at 1-435-835-3000 or 1-888-255-8860. Both churches also serve breakfast the morning following performances (except Sundays). Call the same numbers for breakfast reservations.

Concession stands open about 5 p.m. but are closed during the performance. No food or beverages are allowed on the temple grounds.

"STATE FAIR,"described by director Jerry Elison as "a nice, clean, fun piece of Americana," will play June 18-28 at the SCERA Shell outdoor theater in Orem.

The cast includes K.C. Shaw, Craig McCallister and Mark Pulham, all of whom first appeared in Elison's junior high school productions more than 30 years ago. Also in the cast are Marc Anderson, Linda Williams-Van Orman, Seth Nelson Child, Rebecca Witham, Sofia Lee, Bryan Harper and Marco Lopez.

The score of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, which was a movie in the mid-1940s before being transferred to the stage just a few years ago, includes such familiar tunes as "It's a Grand Night for Singing" and "It Might As Well Be Spring."

Performances will be Mondays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. at the amphitheater, 699 S. State. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for children (3-11). They're available in advance at the SCERA Center, 745 S. State, or at the gate prior to curtain.

"LITTLE EYOLF," Henrik Ibsen's rarely produced drama about a couple struggling to rebuild their faith after the tragic death of their only son, Eyolf, will be presented for three performances only, June 18-20 at 7:30 p.m., in the Rose Wagner Theater, 138 W. 300 South.

Roger Benington, who will also be directing this summer's Sundance Children's Theatre production of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," is directing the play, which was first performed in 1895 in Norway. Among Ibsen's more well known works are "A Doll's House" and "Hedda Gabler."

His cast includes Barta Heiner, Eric Joseph, Trish Reading, J. Scott Bronson and Kyle Rindlishbacher, along with guest New York actress Amy Gaipa, who played Kate Winslet's maidservant, Trudy Bolt, in "Titanic."

Tickets will be available at the door, or can be purchased in advance through ArtTix outlets (355-2787).

THREE PRODUCTIONS geared to younger audiences are also opening this week. They are:

-- "Cinderella," featuring J.J. Neward in the title role and Richard Bliss as the Prince, will be presented June 18, 19 and 21-25 at 7:30 p.m. by the West Jordan City Arts Council. All performances will be in the main park bowery behind City Hall, 8000 S. Redwood Road.

Director Rosalie Richards' cast includes Evan Loveless as the King, Joan Peterson as the Queen, Melanie Turner as the Stepmother, Laura McMullen as the Fairy Godmother and Nina Lyn Warby and Jennifer Crabb as the Stepsisters.

Tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and children and $20 for a family of six. Group rates (10 or more) are $3 per person. Tickets will be available at the door or may be reserved in advance by calling City Hall at 569-5100.

-- "The Reluctant Dragon," the final production in City Rep's 13th season, will play for 16 performances, including five Saturday matinees, from June 19 through Sept. 4.

Adapted and directed by Nigel James, City Rep's associate artistic director, the script is based on Kenneth Grahame's fantasy about a dragon who would rather write poetry than spout fire and devour villagers. (Grahame is probably best known for another of his books, "The Wind in the Willows.")

The cast includes Courtney Ladd Bello as the Dragon and Laura Hammond as Fiona, a village girl who negotiates peace between the Dragon and Sir Gahlflog, the Knight (played by David Moffitt) and the village.

Regular performances will be 7:30 p.m. on June 19, 21 & 28, July 10 & 16, Aug. 6, 7, 16, 27 & 30 and Sept. 3, with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. on June 26, Aug. 14, 21 & 28 and Sept. 4. In addition, there will be daytime school performances for area school field trips on Tuesday-Thursday mornings, with dates depending on advance reservations.

Regular ticket prices are $7 each. School prices are $3.75 per student (some restrictions apply).

City Rep's Family Theater is at 638 S. State. For reservations, or to schedule a school performance, call 532-6000.

-- "Pinocchio," directed by Jim Smith with Chris VanBibber in the title role and Dan Eldredge as Gepetto, will be presented June 17-19 and 21 at 8 p.m. in the Murray Park Amphitheater.

Also in the cast of the musical version of the beloved fable are Don Taylor as Antonio, Courtanie Jacobs as the blue fairy, Taylor Fugate as Candlewick and a supporting cast of nearly 50.

Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children and senior citizens, with a family pass for $20. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Murray Parks office, 330 E. Vine St., and they will also be available at the gate, which opens at 7:15 p.m. Parking is available at 495 E. 5300 South. For further information, or a complete Murray Arts in the Park schedule for this summer, call 264-2614.

HUNT MYSTERY & COMPANY's presentation of "A Celebration Toast" scheduled Saturday, June 19, at Gray Cliff Lodge in Ogden Canyon has been postponed to Saturday, July 17.

The cast includes Lee Fobert, Pery Hope, Rocky and Candy Revels, Lisa Moss and Tabitha Thompson. Lenore Cambria is director/choreographer.

Cost for the package of dinner and mystery is $30 per person. Advance reservations are required (call 392-6775).

Information on stage productions or auditions must be submitted at least two weeks in advance. Compiled by Ivan M. Lincoln, Deseret News theater editor, 1-801-236-6017. Fax: 1-801-237-2550.