Ralph G. Rodgers, Jr.
Ralph G. Rodgers Jr., has long been associated with theater along the Wasatch Front – from teaching drama at Granite High School to operating the Pages Lane Theatre in Centerville – thousands of patrons knew Rodgers from his performances as Scrooge in a variety of “A Christmas Carol” musical adaptations, Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” and Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner of Titipu in “The Mikado.”
Born August 16, 1936, in Salt Lake City, the son of Isabelle Stagg Rodgers and Ralph Gilbert Rodgers, Sr. He married Joan Williams on June 17, 1960 in the Salt Lake Temple. Rodgers served a mission for the LDS Church in Samona in 1956-59 and later spent much time in the islands as a regional representative for the church and, during the early 1970s, as president of the Samoan Mission for three years.
Other LDS Church callings he held include: Regional Representative, Chairman of the Church’s Pageant Committee, Young Men’s General Board member, and his favorite — teacher. He also was a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Jay Welch Chorale.
After graduating from the University of Utah in 1961 with a degree in music education, Ralph taught music at Granite Park Jr. High and later was Choral Director at Granite High School where he produced outstanding musical theatre and directed award winning choirs. Later, as General Manager of the Promised Valley Playhouse (1974-83), Ralph brought many seasons of successful stage productions to the community. His original religious productions, “Moroni,” “III Nephi,” “Joseph” and “Behold the Lamb of God,” often of epic proportions, played to thousands in arenas throughout the western United States. From 1983 to 1988, Ralph was President and General Manager of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie, Hawaii, where he combined his love for theatre with his devotion and affection for the people of the South Seas. During this time he was also invited by the government of the People’s Republic of China to be an adviser on tourism for China – a request that came 18 months following a visit to the PCC by Chinese Premiere Zhao Ziyang, (In the photo) thus becoming instrumental in introducing the LDS Church to China. Upon his return to Utah, Ralph established the Pages Lane Theatre and Performing Arts School in Davis County. (After his death the Pages Lane was renamed The Ralph G. Rodgers Memorial Theatre.) Hundreds of young performers have showcased their talents there because of Ralph’s efforts. While also at the PCC, he wrote and produced the center’s spectacular evening production, “This is Polynesia!” and also produced a video presentation entitled “Portrait of Polynesia.”
Ralph also performed in, produced, and directed many shows such as “Scrooge” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” receiving critical acclaim. He was widely sought after as a speaker, actor, and comedian, and his clear tenor voice was enjoyed by thousands.
In 1994, following surgery on his feet, Rodgers was determined not to let being confined for several months to a wheelchair keep him from performing. His performances as a wheelchair-bound Ebenezer Scrooge gave Charles Dickens’ beloved old skinflint an extra cantankerous edge.
For many years he was involved in annual summer productions of “Promised Valley” at that pioneer show’s namesake theater in downtown Salt Lake City, not only directing it but appearing in the comedic role of Fennelly Parson.
Rodgers, who produced and directed dozens of stage shows, also helped write the scripts and lyrics for a number of other shows shows, including “Mama’s Boarding House,” a sequel to the popular “Papa Married a Mormon,” “Don’t Forget To Remember” and others mentioned above.
One of his latest writing efforts was “Joseph and Mary: A Love Story.”
Most recently, in addition to opening and managing the Pages Lane Theatre, the Rodgers family operated schools for the performing arts in Salt Lake City and Centerville.
Rodgers and his wife, Joan, are the parents of six children: sons, David, Scott, Steven, and Adam; and daughters, Rebecca, and Mary. Ralph left us in 1996.
- Mama’s Boarding House
- Don’t Forget To Remember
- This Is Polynesia
- III Nephi
- Behold The Lamb of God
- The Long Road — from Vermont to Carthage
- Joseph and Mary: A Love Story