LAS VEGAS -- University Theatre's production of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" opens March 3 in the Judy Bayley Theatre at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The play will be performed at 8 p.m. March 3, 4, 10 and 11 with 2 p.m. performances March 5 and 12. The production of the play has been redesigned, but it will include music as did the original Broadway production.

Davey Marlin-Jones, director of more than 800 productions and a winner of the Margo Jones Award for advancing the American playwright, directs Thornton Wilder's classic depicting life in a idyllic New Hampshire village at the turn of the century. "Our Town" is considered to be one of the sagest, warmest and most deeply human plays to come out of modern theater. "Although O'Neil is America's greatest playwright, 'Our Town' is America's greatest play," according to Marlin-Jones. "Thornton Wilder's play is an extremely complex piece of theater disguised by the illusion of absolute simplicity.

"And the reason why it's such a gutsy and courageous piece is that beyond the appearance of sweetness and warmth lies a kind of passion and a rage at an American value system so absorbed in the details of life we sometimes forget to live. The role of the stage manager in this play, often portrayed with amiable distance, is really a kind of surrogate of God who is striving for perfection."

And the idea that everybody is familiar with this classic play is erroneous, according to Marlin-Jones. "I found that, indeed, most of the actors had not sat through hundreds of performances of the play...indeed, they had not seen a single production and for them it was uniquely fresh."

The play begins in 1902 in Grover's Corners where the Gibbs and the Webbs are neighbors. During their childhood George Gibbs and Emily Webb are playmates and their lives are inextricably woven together as neighbors' lives are like to be. But as they grow older they pass into a state of romantic but embarrassed interest in one another. And one day in one of the most famous love scenes in modern-day theater George proposes to Emily in the drug store over an ice cream soda.

"This historic scene," according to Marlin-Jones, "was written on a fire escape in New York City during rehearsal," by Thornton Wilder at the request of director Sam Harris.

The original production had a church choir throughout the show in the orchestra pit. Nancy Frederick, who serves as musical director in addition to acting in the play, notes that Aaron Copland did the original music in the film."it's very subtle and religious and the script also calls for hymns...it's a big challenge because we are interspersing the music with dialogue and it's a challenge to do acappella...all the music is acappella."

The opening scene features Tracy Petrini as the soloist who sings "I Come to the Garden." Andrew Kaempfer plays the stage manager with Micha Stevens as Emily and Mark Allen White as George. Others in the cast include Will Adamson, Susanne Burns, Kellan D. Baker, Adam Kilbour, Mindy Throne, Mundana Ess-Haghabadi, Ernie Curcio, Carmel Jahaver, Michael Kennedy, Paul Harris, Val Kolar, Mathew Sandoval, Max Baker, Michael Weiss, Jack Winston, Bill Grey, Nancy Frederick, Gracy Petrini, Kara Burhley, Debra Bryson, Carol Turner, Robert Barossi, and John T. Woods.

Set design is by David Tarantino with costumes by Gail Lehtinen and lighting by Dino Taronis.

General admission tickets are $12 now on sale in the Performing Arts Center Box Office, 895-ARTS.