Eight productions are opening this week on stages from one end of the state to the other, including a musical melodrama, comedies, Broadway hits and dramas.

They are:- "PERIL OF THE DARK RIVER" - It's a jungle out there, from the concrete one in New York City to those of the mysterious Dark Continent.

For its latest musical melodrama, Desert Star Playhouse is mounting Peter VanSlyke's "Peril of the Dark River," an action-packed spoof of the Indiana Jones-style adventures.

Dennis Ferrin is directing the comedy about good guys and bad guys in search of a lost diamond mine. His cast also includes such DSP regulars as Gary Winterholler, Troy Lunt and Scott Holman, along with newcomers Dan Larrinaga (as adventurer Sam Quinn), Ginger Jensen, Stephanie Cafarelli and Carolynne Record (previously in shows at Theater 138 and CenterStage).

The show's nightly olio song-and-dance revue will be a tribute to the men and women who served in the armed forces during the Persian Gulf war.

Playdates are Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays at 7 p.m., May 17 through July 13. The Desert Star Playhouse is located at 4861 S. State St., Murray. For reservations, call 266-7600.

The theater features cabaret-style seating, with pizza, fountain drinks, popcorn and hand-dipped ice cream treats.

- "HELLO, DOLLY!," one of the longest-running musicals in Broadway history, will be presented Monday through Saturday, May 13-18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Bluffdale Fire Station, 14175 S. Redwood Road.

Laura Garner is directing the show, with Cherelle Stone and Robert Feland in the leading roles of matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi and widower Horace Vandergelder.

Tickets, available in advance from the Bluffdale City Hall or at the door prior to performances, are $3 for adults, $2 for children and $12 for families.

- "THE LITTLE MERMAID," one of Hans Christian Andersen's most endearing and enduring stories, comes to City Rep's Jester Stage for 17 performances between May 16 and July 5.

The production, directed by Joanne M. Parker, features Amy Richardson and Jeremy Thornton as Nereid (the little mermaid) and the Prince.

Others in the cast are Jennifer O'Haley as the Sea Witch, Sherri Fox, Annie C. Kleczkowski, Shauna Brand, Wendy Schenk, Sara Moulton and Tiffany Casper.

Evening performances will be May 16, 18, 20 and 24; June 1, 3, 7, 15, 17, 21 and 29, and July 5 at 7:30 p.m., with Saturday matinees on May 25 and June 8 and 22 at 2 p.m. In addition, two daytime performances have been scheduled for schoolchildren during the run of the play.

Tickets are available at the City Rep box office, 148 S. Main, or by calling 532-6000. Admission is $6.50 for adults and $4.75 for children 16 and under. All seats are reserved. The Jester Stage is located upstairs in the Utah Theatre building.

- "ON THE VERGE OR THE GEOGRAPHY OF YEARNING," a comedy that director L.L. West sees as "an affirmation of life. . .a bright manifestation of what it is to be human," opens a five-performance run on Tuesday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the Allred Theatre of the Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts at Weber State University, Ogden.

The play, written by Eric Overmeyer, follows three lady explorers from the Victorian era across time and space into the unknown and into the future. They climb mountains, ford rivers and trek across deserts and jungles before ending up, somehow, in the American Midwest of 1955 - at an Esso gas station.

The three women will be portrayed by Wendy Coburn, Rebecca Hess and Julie Armstrong, with Brad Schroeder playing eight very different roles - everything from a cannibal with an inexplicable German accent and an infant abominable snowman to a bridge troll (who does rap) and a super-cool '50s entertainer.

Performances will be Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $2.50 for students and senior citizens. Tickets are available in advance from the Dee Events Center ticket office or one hour prior to performances at the Browning Center box office. For reservations, call 626-8500.

- "ON BORROWED TIME," a touching play about love and death, will open Thursday, May 16, at 7:30 p.m. in the Margetts Arena Theatre of the Harris Fine Arts Center at Brigham Young University.

Written by Paul Osborn from the novel by L. E. Watkins, it is directed by Charles Metten. Performances will continue Tuesdays through Saturdays through June 1, with a 4 p.m. matinee May 27. Tickets, at $6.50 for the general public, $5.75 for senior citizens, and $5 for children, faculty, staff and students, are available through the ticket office, 378-3875 or 378-7447.

Osborn is a celebrated writer whose screen credits include "East of Eden," "Sayonara," and "South Pacific," among others, and the play "The World of Susie Wong."

"I consider this to be an ideal family play," Metten says. "I wanted a light and delightful charmer that would provide nice spring evening entertainment.

"The script relates what would happen if Death were trapped so he couldn't go around the world and do his job. Death is treated warmly and as a part of life in this charming comedy," said Metten. The plot is based on a 1939 MGM movie about a grandfather and grandson who chase Death up an apple tree and trap him there.

Three guest artists are playing key roles: Roger Nelson, Springville, as Gramps; veteran actress Georgia Cullimore Faux as Granny, and Gavin Bentley, 11, son of BYU drama professor Marion Bentley, as Pud.

Yannick Charriere is Mr. Brink or "Death."

Others in the cast are: Tina McClelland, Pamela Tippetts, Mark Jacobsen, Mark Ross, Nathan Miles, Quentin Decker, Charles Forsgren, Jim Fife and Jeff Gamette.

Parking directly next to the Harris Fine Arts Center has become limited while the Museum of Fine Arts is under construction. Patrons may find space in the two parking lots directly north of the Wilkinson Center or the J. Reuben Clark Law School and Smoot Administration Building parking lots.

- "ONCE UPON A MATTRESS," the musical version of the fable of the princess and the pea, will be presented for four performances by the Wasatch Playhouse of Layton in an unusual setting - a non-alcoholic dance club in Riverdale, where the Club Emporium is being transformed into a theater-in-the-half-round for the production.

Director Vince O'Neil's cast includes Jeni Carver as the princess (a role first made famous off-Broadway and on television by then-fledgling Carol Burnett), Betty Brogan, Paul Naylor, Marie Moon and Bobbie Moon (as the prince looking for a princess). They'll be supported by a cast of more than 30.

Performances are Thursday, Friday and Monday, May 16, 17 and 20, at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee on Saturday, May 18, at 2 p.m. Admission is $5. Tickets will be available at the door, or in advance by calling 544-0806. Group rates are also available.

The Club Emporium is located at 204 W. 36th St. in Riverdale.

- "GREATER TUNA" is not about a family-size can of Star-Kist. It is, allegedly, about what the off-the-wall playwrights claim is the third smallest town in Texas and its environs: an area known as Greater Tuna (as in Greater Salt Lake).

The comedy, involving the comings and goings of various townspeople, is centered around the two deejays at Radio Station OKKK, and their philosophizing, conversations and commentary.

Normally staged as a two-actor play, with both performers divying up the 20 different roles, director Paul Andersen is using four actors - Clint Kennedy, Kyle Lewis, Dan Conner and Clark Harris - in order to facilitate the many costume changes and give two more actors an opportunity to practice their craft.

"Greater Tuna" will be presented Tuesday through Saturday, May 14-18, in the Graf Fine Arts Theatre at Dixie College, 225 S. 700 East, St. George. Curtain is 8 p.m. nightly. For reservations, call 628-3121.

- SCENES FROM "MACBETH" will be presented during an hourlong program at on Monday, May 13, at Salt Lake Acting Company, 168 W. 500 North, by sixth graders from neighboring Washington Elementary School.

The program will include seven scenes from the Shakespearean classic with a student cast directed by teacher Terri Adams and Tim Baily, an aide at the school.

Thirty-two children from three different classes at the school will present scenes selected from Shakespeare's "Macbeth," with performances scheduled at 9 and 10:30 a.m. and 1 and 7 p.m. on SLAC's mainstage.

Adams said the youngsters were invited to perform at SLAC after a large group of fifth and sixth graders from the reading extension class helped clean up the grounds around the theater as part of a Project 2000 Kidspeak activity.

Admission to the "Macbeth" performances will be free of charge, but tickets must be obtained in advance from the school, due to limited seating. For tickets, call Washington Elementary School at 533-3072.