Strip malls are most famous for video stores, frozen yogurt shops and tanning salons. Maybe a movie theater or a fabric store, too.

But a live performance theater? Where you can see plays and musicals?Unheard of - until last fall, when a private company opened the Pages Lane Theatre, the first live performance organization to grace a strip mall in Utah.

Owned by six partners, the theater is designed to offer "wholesome" entertainment for Davis County citizens, said Margo Beecher, co-owner and director.

"North of Salt Lake City, there is not an abundance of live theater. Not much in Davis County or even Ogden," Beecher said.

So Beecher, Bountiful; Rick Shaw, West Point, Davis County; Blaine and Beverly Olsen, Fruit Heights; and Ralph and Joan Rodgers, Holladay, pooled their resources to open the Pages Lane Theatre.

"Our goal is to produce family shows so people don't have to worry about what they are going to see on stage," said Beecher. The theater opened with "Cheaper by the Dozen" and then offered "Scrooge" during the Christmas season, which was followed by more performances of "Cheaper by the Dozen."

Though there have been breaks between shows, the theater company plans to have continual, ongoing shows, Monday through Friday.

An ambitious task, to be sure, especially in times of economic gloom.

But Beecher says she believes there is a demand for family entertainment. "Lots of people are concerned about the decline in quality of movies and TV shows and want an alternative. And we want to offer them that alternative."

Utahns have been using theater as a diversion since the state's early days, evidenced by the locations of Salt Lake's historic Promised Valley Playhouse and Capitol Theater - both built in the center of the city.

The Pages Lane Theater, whose 287 seats surround the stage, is an additional opportunity for people in the community to share their talents, Beecher said. Those who want (or need) to develop their skills can enroll in the Pages Lane Theatre School of Performing Arts, which is adjacent to the theater. Beecher said the company plans to expand its school to locations in Ogden, Layton and West Valley.

Do the Pages Lane Theatre and school, which are profit-making ventures, pose any threats to the Bountiful Community Theater, a non-profit group that performs four plays a year?

Stanford Smith, director of the community theater, doesn't think so.

"The communities of Bountiful and Centerville are large enough for two theaters. Our big competitors are the movie houses."

Smith said he welcomes the new competition, believing that it will create more interest in theater. Noting that Ralph Rodgers is a successful actor and prominent in the Salt Lake community, Smith said, "More power to him. If he's successful, it'll help us realize some of our goals."