Located in Cedar City, Utah, the Utah Shakespeare Festival aims to present contemporary and classic plays while using the bard as their guidepost. Visitors can expect to see high quality plays put on by a nationally-recognized theater program meant to enrich, educate, and entertain.
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Established in 1961, the Utah Shakespeare Festival was started out of a young actor and entrepreneur’s desire to create top-notch theater. Fred Adams noticed the lack of quality theater in the area, but he also wanted to fill a void within the national parks, which were lacking activities for the quarter million tourists visiting the parks each summer.
Fred Adams was an assistant professor at the Southern University of Utah, which was then known as the College of Southern Utah. The community was becoming desperate to bring people into Cedar City from the new freeway being built near town. One day, Fred and his wife had an incredible idea to start a Shakespeare Festival right in Cedar City!
The idea of Shakespearean Festivals was not a new one, there was a hugely popular Shakespeare Festival located in Oregon. Adams believed that the people of Cedar City, Utah were more than ready for a festival of their own. Historically, dramatic performances and even those plays by Shakespeare have been successfully performed in the southern Utah area.
Although it was difficult to gather funding at first, Adams and his team were able to gather just enough money to start including a nice donation from the Lions Cub of Cedar Rapids (even though, according to Adams, they found the idea less than exciting).
Adams and his newly founded company decided to present Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, and The Taming of the Shrew in its very first season. More than 3,000 people came to watch the initial performances, earning them a $2,000 profit within their first 2 weeks. With this money, the company was able to fund a second season and expand further throughout various national parks, universities, and theaters.
Othello: This play runs from June 28 – October 20 and is presented by the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theater. This classis Shakespearian play is overflowing with passion, pain, and human kindness. Don’t miss the chance with witness this fast-moving, entertaining tale about betrayal, lust, and jealousy.
The Merry Wives of Windsor: This play runs from June 28 – September 8 and is presented by the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre. This classic comedy about suburban housewives getting into a variety of antics is sure to delight spectators of all ages.
The Foreigner: This play runs from June 29 – October 20 and is presented by the Randall L. Jones Theatre. This story follows Charlie, a shy man who simply wanted to avoid small talk at a party. He pretends he is a foreigner who speaks no English and very quickly overhears a wide variety of schemes by everyone at the party who thinks that he cannot understand them. This comedy is truly a delight and is know for having one of the funniest endings in the theatre.
Henry VI Part One: This play runs from June 29 – September 6 and is presented by the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre. This class Shakespearean play follows the life of Henry VI after the death of his father, King Henry V. In this endless battle for the throne, who will come out victorious?
Big River: This play runs from June 30 – September 1 and is hosted by the Randall L. Jones Theatre. This story comes from the great mind of America’s favorite author, Mark Twain. It follows the adventures of Huck Finn and his friend Jim as they travel down the river in this heartwarming adventure.
The Merchant of Venice: This play runs from June 30 – September 7 and is presented by the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre. This controversial Shakespeare classic is a must-see, it will provoke powerful thought and provide eye-opening moments into the complex nature of humankind, forgiveness, greed, and lust.
Pearl’s in the House: This play runs from August 23 – October 20 and is presented by the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre. This beautiful and thought-provoking musical was workshopped in 2017 at the Shakespeare Festival. It surrounds the life of Pearl Baily, a delegate of the UN during the most racially-charged time in American history.
The Liar: This play runs from September 14 – October 20 and is presented by the Randall L. Jones Theatre. This charming story follows the life of two men – a well-to-do man who cannot tell the truth and a manservant who can’t tell a lie. This story can only be described as intricate and entertaining comedy.
Utah Shakespeare Festival, 195 W Center St., Cedar City, UT, 84720, Phone: 435-586-7878