About 5,000 students in grades seven to 12 have been guests of the University of Utah's Pioneer Theatre Company for matinee performances of the current theater calendar.

The students have seen special performances of "Dracula," "The Miser," "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Peer Gynt."Many Utah performing groups bring the dramatic, dance and music arts to schools, but the Pioneer Theatre chooses to bring students to the theater for a more realistic experience, said Director of Development Andrea Evans.

Students receive study guides, background materials and other resources to help them prepare for and enjoy the performances, she said. Participation in secondary schools throughout Utah has more than doubled since 1989.

Directors and actors return to the stage after a performance to answer questions and interact informally with students.

Students from as far away as Wyoming, Idaho and Washington have attended the U. matinees. Many teachers build parts of their curriculum around the company's calendar.