Royal Academy of Dramatic Art set for first performance in Utah

Jul 26, 2022, 8:41 PM

CEDAR CITY, Utah — The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London is performing this week at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City. It is a historic moment for both companies.

The setting is 1960’s Italy; the play is William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” It’s a favorite with audiences at the Utah Shakespeare Festival — but this production is a first.

“This is the first time this tour will ever been seen in the United States. So, it’s a wonderful opportunity for festival audiences to see something that audiences in Europe have been seeing for years but that we’ve never had access to before,” said Frank Mack, executive director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

The performers are recent graduates of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, or RADA, and this week underscores the partnership this company now has with Utah Shakes.

Natasha Rickman directs the production.

“The opportunity to come and see Shakespeare in these beautiful theatres, the fact that we’re going to watch the shows, we’re getting to do cross cultural exchange, in terms of learning how other people do Shakespeare, being able to share some of our practices, is the most exciting thing, really!” Rickman said.

The partnership was announced more than two years ago, but the pandemic put the exchange on hold. The agreement includes an annual RADA production at the Utah Shakespeare Festival and hiring at least one RADA student or graduate each season.

This year, there are two in the USF company. This is a five-year agreement. Funding comes from an anonymous donor.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is eye-opening to the London company.

“I would have had no idea that there was this love for and appreciation for Shakespeare and theatre in general in this part of the world. I just had no idea!” said Perry Williams, who plays the role of Benedick.

Chloe Claudel is an American RADA graduate. She plays the role of Beatrice in “Much Ado About Nothing.” Claudel said the Utah Shakespeare Festival was a surprise to her, as well.

“It’s really moving to see what community there is around theatre and enthusiasm for theatre that there is right here,” she said.

Performances of “Much Ado” continue through the week. The festival cast and crew say they look forward to welcoming a production and new company members from “across the pond” for years to come.

For ticket information about RADA, click here.

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Royal Academy of Dramatic Art set for first performance in Utah