Two children's classics - "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" - are opening on Salt Lake stages this week.

- "BEAUTY AND THE BEAST" - not the Big Apple television version, but the timeless fairy tale classic of ugliness redeemed by true love - will conclude the 1988-89 season for the University of Utah's Young People's Theatre.U. child drama graduate Laine Steel has adapted the story and is directing the production, to be presented March 22-25 in the Bryant Intermediate School auditorium.

The plot involves a merchant (played by Don Fleming) who barters with a beast (Mark White), trading one of his daughters (Jette Halladay) for his own life.

Steel has enhanced this story with another sister (Melinda Ness) and a pair of spirits (Seth Olson and Kristy Taylor).

The YPT continues its two-year tradition of offering interpreted performances for the hearing-impaired. Both American sign language and oral signing will accompany the Friday (7:30 p.m.) and Saturday (10 a.m.) performances. Interpreters will be Gloria Baker and Amy McConnel.

Assisting Steel will be Warren Gerritsen, set design; Christine Murdoch, costumes; Elaine Hansen, choreography; Matthew Thomas, lighting, and Jed P. Sparks, stage manager.

Performances will be Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.; Thursday and Friday at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at the Pioneer Memorial Theatre box office (581-6961). The school is located at 40 S. Eighth East.

- "THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE" will begin a 10-performance run on Monday in City Rep's upstairs Family Theatre in the Utah Theatre, 148 S. Main.

The first and most famous of C.S. Lewis' classic Narnia Chronicles, the show will take children (and their parents) into the enchanted world of Narnia - a land filled with animals and creatures, both good and evil. It is a world where it is always winter, but never Christmas, because the evil White Witch, Jadis, has declared it so.

The principal inhabitants of Narnia are the intelligent talking animals ruled by the majestic King Aslan, the Great Lion. Although Aslan is often absent from his land (his very existence is doubted by some), most of the residents believe that he will return when the need for him is greatest.

Into this world of high adventure come four children - described as "two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve" - plucked from their lives in World War II Britain through the back of a magical wardrobe closet in an English country manor.

Directed by City Rep's Family Theatre artistic director, Joanne M. Parker, the cast of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" includes Cliff Cole, Cheryl Ann Cluff, Perry Coe, Paul Gibbs and Ben Battersby.

The four children are Toni Davis (Lucy), Brad Skinner (Edmund), Emily Tims (Susan), and Jared Christensen (Peter).

Evening performances, at 7:30 p.m., will be Monday and Saturday of this week, then March 31 and April 1-2, 7-8 and 10. Matinees are scheduled for 2 p.m. on April 15 and 22. Tickets are $6.50 for adults and $4.75 for children. For reservations, contact the City Rep box office at 532-6000.