A musical about President Wilford Woodruff written 22 years ago for a Woodruff family reunion will be produced this weekend at the former LDS Church president's Salt Lake City farmhouse.

Marilyn Oblad, a descendant of Wilford Woodruff, has directed the musical for the past seven years in the backyard of the historic farmhouse. The biographical musical can be produced with as few as four people, and Oblad has used as many as 10. Some of the players, mostly descendants of Wilford Woodruff, are in the production year after year.

Joe Marshall, who plays Wilford, and his brother Andrew, a staff writer for the Deseret News, are the only players this year who are not descendants of Wilford Woodruff. But they have their own unique tie to the production, which was written by their grandmother, Nonie Sorenson.

Sorenson spent 15 years directing the summertime productions by young performing missionaries in Nauvoo, and the performances there now are still based on her work.

Sorenson has also written a number of other musicals about notable Mormon pioneer figures. The first was about her great-grandfather, early church president Joseph F. Smith. She has also written musical productions about Heber C. Kimball, Charles C. Rich, Willard Richards, Jane Manning James and Martha Maria Hughes Cannon.

"I have nearly always produced them myself the first time and then given (the families) handwritten copies, because I didn't have a computer at the time, and I'd give them an audio tape," Sorensen said.

It was one of those copies that sparked Oblad's interest in reviving the Wilford Woodruff musical, which is now in its seventh year under her direction.

"I saw this picture of Wilford Woodruff and I listened to a tape and thought it would be a really fun thing to do," Oblad said.

The show will play Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. in the back yard of the farmhouse, at 1604 S. 500 East. Tickets are free. Parking is available at the LDS church building across the street. The production moves to the church building in case of rain.

Wilford Woodruff joined the church in 1833 and served two missions before being ordained an apostle at age 32 by Brigham Young. He then completed four additional missions, presided over the St. George temple and, after being sustained as the church's fourth president in 1889, dedicated both the Salt Lake City and Manti temples. In 1890, he wrote the Manifesto, testifying the church had ceased teaching the practice of plural marriage.


E-mail: sfidel@desnews.com