I faced plenty of tough decisions during a recent trip to enjoy the Utah Shakespearean Festival with my daughter Lizabeth.
Khakis or denim? Apple tart or summerberry tart? Scottish night or Irish night?
Every Monday through Saturday evening at 7pm, festival patrons can enjoy “The Greenshow”–featuring “the spirited song, dance and costumes of Shakespeare’s day.” The event is free and fun for all ages.
The Greenshow sets the mood for evening performances at the Adams Shakespearean Theatre with storytelling, juggling, fiddling and comedic fare on the green and courtyard area surrounding the spectacular outdoor performance venue.
Lizabeth and I went nearly every night we were there and enjoyed the alternating “Scottish” and “Irish” themes–as well as Elizabethan sweets and treats (and my nightly double espresso on the rocks).
The Greenshow cast consists of several young actors–many of whom are B.F.A. candidates in the musical theatre program at Southern Utah University (site of the annual festival).
Performers Payden L. Adams and Tony Carter routinely steal the show with their “Scum & Ratsby” back-and-forth of jokes, jabs and jest.
Other highlights include traditional Scottish and Irish dance, fiddle and song–even music ala the washboard.
Another crowd favorite is The Greenshow trivia quiz–during which young attendees are invited to raise a hand if they’d like to come on stage and answer a question for the cast.
Cast members choose a child to join them for a simple trivia question. The nights we attended it went something like this…
Q: How many tamborines did the four girls use during the show?
A: Four (four tamborines hang within feet of the cast at this point)
Q: What’s your favorite food here at the Festival?
Winners–which include every child who participates (there’s just a single player each evening)–have their photo taken with the cast (then sent via e-mail to the proud parents).
One night we were delighted to see a little girl from Tucson join the cast onstage (though the photo above is of another lovely participant who stole the spotlight the one evening I had my camera in tow).
The Greenshow is but one of many activities above and beyond the rich assortment of Shakespearean works you can enjoy at the festival–which also include backstage tours, repertory magic, literary seminars, production seminars, play orientations, curtain call lunches and more.
Other festival and area events include a cabaret featuring festival performers, exhibits at the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, The Wooden O Symposium, the Cedar City Fall Arts Festival and the Shakespeare Competition (also affiliated with Southern Utah University).
I wasn’t able to photograph every activity we enjoyed, which will likely come as a relief to both festival cast members and the talented creative and technical team members it takes to make all this Shakespeare seem so seamless.
To learn more, or enjoy festival pictures from the pros, visit the Utah Shakespearean Festival online. Better yet, jump in the car and head to Cedar City for a one-of-a-kind family-friendly vacation.
Note: Arizona’s own Southwest Shakespeare Company, one of several resident companies at Mesa Arts Center, opens their 2010-2011 season on Sept 9 with “Blood Royal”–an original adapatation of William Shakespeare’s “Henry VI” trilogy by Michael Flachmann. The work, directed by Jared Sakren, runs through Sept 25 in MAC’s Nesbitt/Elliott Playhouse Theatre. Details/tickets at www.swshakespeare.org. Learn more about The Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix at www.azirish.org and The Caledonian Society of Arizona in Scottsdale at www.arizonascots.com.
Coming up: Beyond crayons and classrooms, Musings on museums and Mountain Dew, Dancing with vampires and sugar plum fairies, Arizona’s own festivals featuring Scottish and Irish fare