At least six new shows, including an independent production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's "Jesus Christ, Superstar," being mounted at the First Presbyterian Church as an Easter season event; the rarely performed "Papa Married a Mormon" (which has been tied up in the original author's estate), and one segment of Preston Jones' "Texas Trilogy" are opening this week in Utah.
Other plays include "Pack of Lies" at Utah State University, Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians" at Southern Utah University, and "Rashomon" at the College of Eastern Utah.
- JESUS CHRIST, SUPERSTAR - In the 1960s a new art form evolved: a theatrical experience blending rock music with the opera format as a way of making some stories more accessible to younger folks.
One of genius Andrew Lloyd Webber's first collaborations with Tim Rice was "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," which became a fairly amazing success.
Turning again to the Bible, the Webber-Rice team focused on the life and mission of the Saviour in "Jesus Christ, Superstar."
Eight years ago, Linda Bishop directed a production of "Superstar" for the Unicorn Theater Company at St. Mark's Episcopal Church. This run had to be extended to accommodate the turn-away crowds.
Recently, she and Pastor Don Baird, minister at the First Presbyterian Church, were discussing what could be presented at the church to celebrate the Easter season.
Their decision: a new, fully staged production of "Jesus Christ, Superstar" in church's sanctuary, where the newly renovated stained glass windows will add a resplendent touch.
The musical is scheduled to play Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. in the chapel, March 8-24. The church is at South Temple and C Streets. Suggested donation is $10 per person, with tickets available at the door. Seating is not reserved.
Director Bishop and producer Shawn Max-field have assembled a large cast and ensemble of local performers and musicians, many of them well-known from their work in the community's major theater companies.
The cast includes Randy Barton (who was Pilate in Bishop's earlier production) as Jesus Christ, Teri Cowan as Mary Magdeline, Troy Klee as Herod, Shawn Maxfield as Pontius Pilate, Jon Shuman as Judas, Rodger Reynolds as Annas, and Trevor Williams as Cliaphus, the chief priest.
Musical director Jeffrey Price is making full use of the unique setting by utilizing three keyboards - piano, electronic organ and the church's massive pipe organ.
"Add 22 singers and dancers on stage plus a backup choir of 12, and music will fill the sanctuary," says Bishop.
Brent Schneider, who dances with Repertory Dance Theatre and choreographs for Sun-dance Summer Theatre, is choreographing "Superstar."
Bishop and Maxfield point out that "Jesus Christ, Superstar" is a reverential treatment of the story of Christ and is a production that should appeal to members of all denominations in Salt Lake City.
- PAPA MARRIED A MORMON takes a considerably different religious stance than "Jesus Christ, Superstar," although perspectives of tolerance can be found in both.
Adapted by Charles W. Whitman from the book by John D. Fitzgerald, the play opens Friday, March 8, at the Pages Lane Theatre, 292 E. Pages Lane, Centerville.
It's a warm comedy about a family in the early days of Utah coping with the fact that Mama is a Mormon, but Papa is a Catholic.
Ralph G. Rodgers is directing the play, which premiered more than 15 years ago at Promised Valley Playhouse.
"Few productions fuse all of the elements of love, family crises, triumph, tolerance and Christian fellowship . . . as this time-honored work," said Rodgers.
Of the 29 roles in the play, all but three are double-cast.
The roles of the Mama and the Papa (Tom and Tena Fitzgerald) will be played by Terrell Blackburn, Rocky Revels, Lissa Woodbury Jensen and Rhonda Paige, with J. Scott Henrie and Norman Morris as narrator J.D. Fitzgerald.
Others in the alternating casts are Phil Edmunds, Bob Walkinshaw, Chris Brown, Corene Heaps, Kirk Monson, Dale Yates, Jim Bo Lang, Reed Watson, Rebecca Rodgers, Sherllyn Sauve, Paula Everett, Ann Rosser, Sandy Allen, Ruth Stoneman, Dave Hancey, Ray Hoffmann, Ben Allen, Aaron Christensen, Meredith Anderson, Sherrie Smith, Jordan Brown, Dean Mon-son, Bethany Christensen, Lynaya Sauve, Danny Inkley and Ben Stoneman.
Also David Burns, Danny Clifford, Rocky Rev
els II, Chris Allen, Robert Morris, Todd Ethington, Ben Strader, Lindsay Addams, Katie Edmunds, Jinette Revels, Natalie Kjar, Marie Monson, Adam Rodgers, Sam Stoneman, Dave Beecher, Bob Dickinson, Kara Bechtel, Catica Cole, Heather Hartvigsen, Jennee Revels, Jon
athan D. Crittenden, Bob Dickinson and Jeff Hansen.
Playdates are Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays from March 8 through April 22 at 8 p.m., with matinees at 3:30 p.m. on two Saturdays, April 13 and 20. Admission is $6 for adults and $5 for children (under 12) on Monday evenings and Saturday matinees, and $8 for adults and $6 for children on Friday and Saturday evenings.
For reservations, call 298-1302.
Season tickets are still available for Pages Lane Theatre's next four shows, "Little Women," "The Solid Gold Cadillac," "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" and "Fiddler on the Roof."
- LU ANN HAMPTON LAVERTY OBERLANDER, the middle play in Preston Jones' celebrated "A Texas Trilogy," will be presented for nine performances in the Babcock Theatre, downstairs in the Pioneer Memorial Theatre building at the University of Utah.
It's being directed by associate professor Robert Baca, who worked with Jones for more than 12 years at the Dallas Theatre Center in the late 1960s and '70s.
"Lu Ann Hampton" looks at three decades in the central character's life, friends and family in the small West Texas town of Bradleyville.
It's an incisive portrait of her hopes and dreams as a teenager, her marriages as an adult, and how her view of the world changes with time and is influenced by the variety of eccentric and unique personalities that surround her.
Jones' other works in the trilogy were "The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia" and "The Oldest Living Graduate."
Christine Woodward will play the title role.
Also in the cast are Sarah Anderson, Roman Bennett, Dalyn Greenwood, Kent Hadfield, D. Kenneth Harper, Derek Johnson, Marcel Lund-berg, Scott Nielson, Maribeth Thueson and Myk Watford.
Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 7 p.m., March 7-17, with a matinee on Saturday, March 16, at 2 p.m. The theater is located at 1340 E. 300 South (University at Broadway). For reservations, call the Pioneer Memorial Theatre box office at 581-6961. Student and group discounts are available.
- PACK OF LIES, Hugh Whitemore's domestic drama about disloyalty and betrayal, is being presented by Utah State Theatre in the intimate Studio Stage Theatre of the Chase Fine Arts Center at USU, Logan.
Performances are Monday through Saturday, March 4-9, at 8 p.m.
Director Lynda Linford said the play is based on an actual incident. It focuses on the moral dilemmas that devastate commonplace people when they're petitioned by a Scotland Yard detective to spy on their friends.
"The real case is fascinating," Linford said. "It was a landmark case that revolutionized the way secret service agencies handled international espionage."
Seating is limited and advance reservations are strongly suggested.
Admission is $5.50 for adults, $4.50 for senior citizens, youths and USU faculty or staff, and $3.25 for USU students with valid ID. A new theater department policy also allows dependents of USU students (18 and under) to purchase tickets for $3.25.
Children under 5 are not admitted.
For reservations, contact the USU Smith Spectrum Ticket Office at 750-1657. Some tickets may also be available at the door. The Studio Stage is located in room No. 224 of the fine arts center complex.
- TEN LITTLE INDIANS, Agatha Christie's classic thriller, will play March 7-16, in the Randall L. Jones Theatre at Southern Utah University, Cedar City.
Co-directed by R. Scott Phillips and Jesse Berger, the cast will include a mix of SUU stage veterans and newcomers, including Stacy Nix, Morgan J. Anderson, R. Matthew Benton, Kur-tiss Morrison, Michael Bud Metters, Lisa Rasmussen, Timothy Evans, Matthew Kyle Barham, Brian Vaughn and Shanna L. Peterson.
Playdates are Thursdays through Saturdays, March 7-9 and 14-16, at 8 p.m. For reservations, call the SUU theater department box office at 586-7878.
- RASHOMON, Fay and Michael Kanin's fascinating drama, will be presented Thursday-Saturday, March 7, 8 and 9, at 7:30 p.m. in the Geary Theatre at College of Eastern Utah, Price.
The play recounts the trial of an infamous bandit charged with murdering a highly respected samurai in ancient Japan. The story unfolds via testimony from three different sources - the bandit, the samurai's widow and the samurai himself, speaking from beyond the grave through a mysterious medium.
The cast includes Sean Oviatt, Robin Bosworth, Masanobu Higashi, Brandon Shaw, Todd Olsen, Chris Jackson, Christopher Aguayo, Leslie Miller and Julie Benedict.
The production is being cosponsored by CEU's International Club.
For reservations, call 637-2120, Ext. 334.