The opening of the ninth annual Castle Theatre Festival in Provo and the "last hurrah" for the old Hale Centre Theatre in South Salt Lake (overlapping HCT's move into a new $8 million facility in West Valley City) are two of the major events this week for Wasatch Front theatergoers.

- "THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE," one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most popular operettas, will also be the "swan song" for the old Hale Centre Theatre, 2801 S. Main.It's scheduled to run Aug. 21-Oct. 12, but publicist Sally Dietlein notes that this is the first and only time HCT has been able to extend a show, due to the fact that the next regularly scheduled production, "The Man With the Pointed Toes," will be playing at Hales' new theater in West Valley City.

Marilyn May Montgomery is directing and choreographing the show. All roles are double-cast. The ensemble includes Cliff Cole and David Kirk as the Pirate King, Brett Bradford and Dan Morgan as Frederic, Debra Lowe and Melissa Brinkerhoff as Mabel, Jennifer O'Haley and Mary Parker Williams as Ruth, Kelly DeHaan and Scott D. Morgan as Major General Stanley, Patrick Horne and David W. Stensrud as the Sergeant of Arms, and Ron Jewett and Steve Smith as Samuel.

Performances will be 8 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, with matinees at 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 22, 29 and Sept. 12 and both noon and 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 and 26 and Oct. 10. All seats are reserved. Admission ranges from $8 to $13. Call 484-9257 for reservations.

Fund-raisers: Two benefit performances, one for a young boy with severe dystonia and the other for a burn victim, will be scheduled after Oct. 12. Details will be announced.

- THE CASTLE THEATRE FESTIVAL, presented by the Actors' Repertory Theatre Ensemble in Provo's historic Castle Amphitheater, will run from Aug. 18 through Sept. 19 with not-quite-alternating productions of "Hamlet" and "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead."

"Rosencrantz," directed by Kathy Biesinger, will have a preview performance on Aug. 19, followed by a formal opening on Aug. 21, after which it will continue on Aug. 27 & 29 and Sept. 3, 5, 7, 11, 14 & 18.

"Hamlet," being directed by ARTE artistic director Loraine Edwards, plays Aug. 20 (preview), Aug. 22 (opening) and Aug. 24 & 28 and Sept. 1, 4, 10, 12, 17 & 19.

All performances begin at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for students and senior citizens. All seating is general admission. It is suggested that patrons bring blankets or pillows. Tickets will be available at the gate. For reservations, call 377-ARTE (2783) or 1-800-510-ARTE.

- TWO FREE READINGS of new plays are set this week in Salt Lake and Cedar City.

- "Drift" is the final play in Salt Lake Acting Company's New Play Sounding Series for this season. It's Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the theater, 168 W. 500 North.

The play, by former Utahn Jon Tuttle, is described as a darkly funny and gritty meditation on marriage and infidelity.

The reading is being directed by Tobin Atkinson, who has joined SLAC's staff after spending a year in Florida. His cast includes Kathryn Atwood, Thom Dillon, Geoff Hansen, Shawn Nottingham, Ron Levy, Theresa Rav-ni-kar, Alisa Harris and Kristen Murphy.

Tuttle is an associate professor of English as Francis Marion University in South Carolina. He is a graduate of the University of Utah, where he studied playwriting under David Kranes. One of his first plays, "Remembering Us," was read by SLAC in the early 1980s.

The reading is free and open to the general public. It will be followed by an open forum.

- "March Tale," by Brigham Young University professor Tim Slover, will be read Aug. 20 and 21 at 10:15 a.m. in the Cedar Theatre, 33 N. Main, Cedar City, as part of the Utah Shakespearean Festival's New Plays-in-Progress series. There will also be an additional performance on Sept. 3.

Sylvie Drake, media director for the Denver Center Theatre Company, is guest-director.

The play is set in 1603 when Queen Elizabeth, in the last days of her life, summons Shakespeare and his troupe for a command performance of "Merry Wives of Windsor."

The reading is free; donations are welcome.

- "SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS," the stage version of the beloved MGM musical, opens Aug. 21 at the Hale Center Theater in Orem, continuing through Oct. 12.

In a switch from its usual policy, this show will play Mondays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. throughout the entire run, with matinees at 3 p.m. on Oct. 3 and Oct. 10.

Director Syd Riggs' double-cast ensemble includes Gordon Miner and Erik Christensen alternating as Adam Pontipee and Megan Mack and Jennifer Webb as Milly, his bride.

The brothers will be played by Scott Wetsel, Jason Garfield, Kris Higley, Robert Land, Lyall Swim, Derek Call, Todd Beegley, C. Mo Hanners, Chris McQueen, Trent Sutton, Dan Duckwitz and Justin Martin, with Katie Bartholomew, Emilee Wager, Emily Bradley, Tara S. Cook, Alisa Green, Andrea Chapman, Angela Boyle, Becky Witham, Melinda Mann, Kris Wing, Stacie DeJesus and Katie Higbee as the brides.

Tickets range from $7 to $10. For reservations, call 226-8600.

- "SINGIN' IN THE RAIN," which closed Saturday night at Orem's SCERA Shell amphitheater, is moving to the deJong Concert Hall of Brigham Young University's Harris Fine Arts Center for additional performances during the school's annual Education Week.

Play dates are Tuesday-Friday, Aug. 18-21, at 7 p.m. All seats are $7. For reservations, call 378-4322.

The show moves to Murray for three performances Aug. 27-29 in the city park amphitheater. (Details will be announced).

- "SATURDAY'S WARRIOR" is winding down its regional tour with performances in Salt Lake City and Provo.

It will be presented Aug. 21, 22 and 24 at Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, on the University of Utah campus. Curtain is 8 p.m., with one matinee at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Tickets may be purchased in advance from the Kingsbury Hall box office or from any ArtTix outlet, including the Capitol Theatre and selected Albertsons stores. For telephone orders, call 355-2787.

The tour's final Utah performances will be Aug.27-Sept. 5 at Timpview High School in Provo. Tickets for the Provo dates may be ordered by calling 1-801-656-0577.