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Setting the stage: 2003-04 theater season

News about the upcoming season includes moves to new or newly expanded facilities by several troupes throughout the state. And at least one company is making its debut.

Traditionally, the fall season — based primarily on companies affiliated with colleges and universities — runs from mid-September through late spring.

Highlights include Patrick Page, taking a break from his role as Scar in Disney's stage version of "The Lion King" to play the title role in Pioneer Theatre Company's "Cyrano de Bergerac" … an all-premiere season (regional, not world premieres) at Salt Lake Acting Company … and an audience-choice selection at Desert Star Theater, where patrons are invited to offer their own ideas for an original script or suggest their favorite show to be revived from the past.

Patrons will find all-new facilities at Snow College in Ephraim and — a little later in the year — at Dixie State College in St. George. The Eccles Foundation is helping fund both new performing arts complexes.

The new Eccles Center at Snow College is already in use, with students being taught in the building's classrooms. This complex replaces the old Crane Theatre, among several older structures on campus scheduled to be razed. The new complex contains four performance halls, rehearsal rooms, a scenery-construction shop, classrooms and office space. The facility also houses the Seth and Maurine D. Horne School of Music.

On the St. George campus, the 70,000-square-foot Delores Dore Eccles Fine Arts Center will house a 500-seat theater, a black box venue, an art gallery, a 250-seat concert hall and several rehearsal halls. The theater department's spring productions, "The Boys Next Door" and "Quilters," will be staged in the new facility.

The University of Utah's Lab Theatre, which in past years has been stuck in a cubby-hole size space upstairs in the Performing Arts Building, is moving into a larger (and more flexible) space on the north end of the first floor, where it will now be handicapped-accessible.

The St. George Musical Theatre Company is leaving the historic St. George Opera House for a vacant school building nearby.

Westminster College is adding the Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory to the Jewett Center for the Performing Arts. The expansion will include a new wood-paneled recital hall, a black box theater space and an art gallery. The construction will have some impact on this season's performances.

Kaysville will have the new Firehouse Theatre for Youth, based in the community's old fire station, behind the city library.

Hale Centre Theatre has hired Barlow Bradford, formerly conductor of the Orchestra at Temple Square, to rewrite the musical score for "A Christmas Carol." This year's production, according to producer Sally Dietlein, will have a more symphonic, cinematic sound. The music will be authentic to the time period, with several all-new selections. The staging will also be changed — focusing more on the story instead of the West Valley City theater's "whizbang" special effects.

The Children's Theatre of Salt Lake is modifying its performance policy. This year, there will be three weekends of public performances, with more allocated to the company's popular daytime field trip audiences.


E-mail: ivan@desnews.com