Utah Shakespeare Festival Returns For 2021 Season
CEDAR CITY, Utah — The Utah Shakespeare Festival has opened its season in Cedar City, celebrating a big anniversary and paying tribute to its founder.
COVID restrictions lifted just in time for the festival to open its three theatres and welcome audiences to what everyone hopes will be a very memorable season.
“Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!”
The words of a familiar song filled the air as the performers of The Green Show entertained an audience on the lawn outside the mainstage theatre before the Opening Night production.
These free shows are popular with both those who have tickets for evening productions and townspeople, men, women and children, who love to interact with singers, dancers, jugglers and in this rendition – mermaids!
This season, that interaction happens at a distance.
“There’s no blueprint for production theatre during a global pandemic,” said _______
Inside the Englestad open-air theatre, Executive Producer Frank Mack and Artistic Director Brian Vaughn, welcomed theatre-goers to the festival’s 60th anniversary by reminding everyone of the man who started it all.
“In the wake of the passing of our founder, Fred Adams, this is doubly moving,” said Vaughn as he touched his heart. “To be here, to see his dream realized, and for all of you to be here celebrating this unique spectacle of 60 years.”
In 1962, theatre professor Fred Adams came up with the idea to do Shakespeare during the summers at then Southern Utah State College. The vision grew, bringing more than 120,000 people to Cedar City every summer, and bringing a regional Tony Award in 2000.
All season, Fred, who died in February of 2020, will be remembered.
A special tribute evening has been planned for Sunday, Aug. 8.
Frank Mack, executive producer of The Utah Shakespeare Festival, paid tribute to the designers and crew who have been hard at work for months to prepare for the season.
“It’s out first year back after missing an entire season because of the pandemic, and that adds a really wonderful dimension to the performances,” said Mack.
And then, it happened — Act 1, Scene 1 of “Pericles.”
“To sing a song that old was sung,” said the title character.
Ticket sales are excellent, administrators said, with no social distancing or masks required.
Cast and crew called it a reunion.
Britannia Howe, director of both ” The Green Show” and ” Cymbeline,” described why theatre is so important this year.
“Post pandemic, it helps heal communities. As we gather together and we sit together in a space, we are able to have a context of all these different feelings we are experiencing,” she said.
At the outdoor theatre, the curtain went up on William Shakespeare’s “ Comedy of Errors.” The audience cheered and applauded one character’s attempts to carry multiple suitcases by picking up the final one in his teeth!
Utah Shakes, as so many call the festival, has opened for business, with a season built around overcoming, reconciliation and renewal.
“All of those things are representative of where we are currently in our world — about people coming back, finding love and moving on in the wake of great change,” said Vaughn.
Shakespeare Under the Stars and more is underway in Cedar City, with eight productions, some shows running until mid-October.
For details on the season and all of the extras, visit The Utah Shakespeare Festival website.
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