The Off Broadway Theatre downtown has closed its production of "Paint by Numbers" early due to questions about the originality of Bob Bedore's script.

"The theater respects the fact that this show does contain similarities to another play and, therefore, elects to finish the run early," Ben Porter, one of the theater's partners, said Thursday afternoon."Paint by Numbers" had been scheduled to close Saturday night. Patrons holding tickets may use them for substitute performances of OBT's Quick Wits improvisational comedy revue (7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday).

The comedy, written and directed by Bedore, one of three partners in the theater, contains similarities to a 14-year-old play, "This Must Be the Place," written by the late Jack Sharkey (using the pseudonym Monk Ferris).

Arden Heide of Samuel French's Hollywood office said in a letter last month to the Deseret News, "We hope it won't be necessary to file a lawsuit, although that may become necessary if Bedore thinks he stands a chance of convincing a court of the originality of his plays. He is claiming ownership and not merely presenting the plays without permission or the standard payment of royalties.

"We hope the prospect and the costs of preparing a defense will convince Bedore to settle with us."

Heide also noted that the plot of Bedore's "The Death of Me," which played at OBT one year ago, also contains a number of similarities to Ferris' farce, "Let's Murder Marsha."

Bedore and another partner at OBT, Eric Jensen, are well-known in the region for their Saturday morning TV show, "Fit Kids," on Ch. 5. Bedore is also featured in several locally produced TV commercials.