Tuacahn Amphitheater's annual pageant-style drama, "Utah!," will have a completely new story line this summer - along with a new creative team and an almost all-new cast.

Award-winning Utah playwright Tim Slover has crafted a new script for the 1998 edition of the epic-scale production.Although there are new lyrics by another prominent Utah artist - Marvin Payne - the show will still utilize the musical score written by Kurt Bestor and Sam Cardon.

"Utah" also has a slightly longer season this year, opening June 12 and continuing through Sept. 5 in the 2,000-seat Tuacahn Amphitheater in Ivins, just west of St. George.

Slover has tried to fashion a play that will convey the spirit of the settlement of Utah.

"Utah," the drama, does not take place in one pioneer settlement in particular, explains Slover.

"The play draws on common elements of the settlement experience - struggles with the land and climate, relations between settlers and Native Americans, contributions made by non-Mormons, the discouragement and death that marked the settlements and the faith and joy which crowned them. It distills these common experiences into a single story," Slover notes.

Slover won the grand prize in a recent Writer's Digest play writing competition.

One new character in Slover's version is the Mapmaker, who narrates the proceedings.

"Except for Brigham Young, none of the individual characters in the play is a historical figure," said Slover. "If any of the play's audiences have roots in Utah, they can think of the characters as their great-great grandparents, whether they are Native or white, Mormon or otherwise. What we are attempting in `Utah!' is the depiction of a whole state."

According to Tuacahn president Gerald R. Sheratt, this year's production will also have several new pieces of scenery. The costuming has also been expanded to meet the demands of the new script.

The cast of nearly 100, directed by Kathy Biesinger, includes a number of New York artsts along with some Utah talent.

Performances will be nightly, Mondays-Saturdays. Tickets are available through Smith'sTix outlets (1-800-888-8499) or may be purchased directly from the Tuacahn box office by calling 1-800-SHOW-UTAH (or 1-800-746-9882, or Smith'sTix at 1-800-888-8499).

As in previous years, there will be an optional Dutch-oven style dinner, catered by Staheli's of St. George, served from 6 to 8 p.m., prior to the performances. Meals can be reserved at the same time as show tickets.

Tickets are also now available for Tuacahn's fall season show, "How the West Was Won," a musical revue premiering in September. Tickets for a third spectacle, "King of Kings," a production currently in development, will go on sale beginning June 12.