Shakespeare in summertime

Barbara Jo Bednarczuk as Featured Performer in The Greenshow at the 2011 Utah Shakespeare Festival. (Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Karl Hugh.)

When Lizabeth and I attended last year’s Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, we pretty much played it by ear. We hit every show and plenty of other activities like the Greenshow, but didn’t give a lot of time to planning what to do when.

We’re heading to Cedar City for several days this week to take in the 50th annual Utah Shakespeare Festival, but this time I’m taking a different tack — researching their many Shakespeare-related offerings before we go. I don’t want to miss a thing.

Literary seminars. Play orientations. Backstage tours. Production seminars. Cabaret performances with festival artists. Plus six productions — three Shakespeare works and three by other playwrights.

Elijah Alexander (top) as Oberon and Kymberly Mellen as Tatiana in the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2011 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. (Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Karl Hugh.)

Happily, our trip coincides with two of their many 50th season special events — “Governor’s Night at the Festival” on Aug 12 and “Bard’s Beach Bash” on Aug 13.

Pity we’ll have to fly home before the Aug 19 “Bardway Baby” show featuring festival actors performing hits from Broadway shows in a concert setting. (I wonder whether “Romeo” and “Juliet” will grace the stage with a “Maria” and “Tony” duet.)

I’m especially eager to enjoy two exhibits on the campus of Southern Utah University. One features costumes, costume renderings and other artwork related to the festival’s costume artists and technicians. Another showcases the festival’s history as documented by its company photographers.

A scene from the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2011 production of Romeo and Juliet. (Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival. Photo by Karl Hugh.)

An exhibit at Cedar City Library in the Park looks at festival posters and souvenir programs through the years. An exhibit in the auditorium theatre lobby celebrates costumes, props and scenery. Additional exhibits are open at area venues, making this an especially fun year to take in the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Folks who attend the festival this month can enjoy visual arts at the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, something on my “must see” list this year. Scholars from across the country will be in Cedar City Aug 10-12 for a cross-disciplinary conference called “The Wooden O Symposium,” where they study Shakespeare through the text and performance of his plays.

If you head to the Utah Shakespeare Festival on Aug 28 & 29, you can also enjoy the “Cedar City Fall Arts Festival.” Come October 8-10, students and teachers from Utah and beyond will gather for the Utah Shakespeare Festival/Southern Utah University Shakespeare Competition, something Lizabeth enjoyed while studying with Maren Mascarelli at Arizona School for the Arts.

Someday I’ll figure out a way to stay long enough to enjoy additional Utah attractions like Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Dixie National Forest.

— Lynn

Coming up: Photos, reviews and fun finds from the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 50th season


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