Tag Archives: Much Ado About Nothing

“Much Ado” in Argentina

“It takes two to tango,” muses David Vining in his director’s notes for Southwest Shakespeare Company’s “Much Ado About Nothing.” Vining seized on the tango vibe for “Much Ado” after realizing how well it matched the Beatrice/Benedick sparring at the heart of the play — which centers on folks who spend entirely too much time trying to trick others, for reasons sometimes malevolent but mostly benign.

Like all of Shakespeare’s works, “Much Ado About Nothing” reveals much about human nature. In this case, it’s the giddiness of man — described by Vining as the tendency “to get our knickers in a twist over the least little thing.” Think Shakespeare meets Sarah Bernhardt. Then thank goodness for Maren Maclean, whose Beatrice rocks the farce with true force and finesse. Her performance elevates this “Much Ado” to one of the finest feasts of Shakespeare I’ve ever tasted.

Maren Maclean (Beatrice) and Jesse James Kamps (Benedick) from "Much Ado About Nothing" at Southwest Shakespeare Company

Vining sets this “Much Ado About Nothing” in 1930s Argentina, noting its many “serendipitous parallels” with Shakespeare’s Messina along the Sicilian coast — the original setting for the play. First, “the passion and sexiness of the tango.” Then similar periods of “political and military unrest.” Both had “a powerful military, an established aristocracy and a clearly defined class system” — plus “the strong presence of Catholicism.”

The flag of Argentina hangs over a balcony at the center of the set, with ivy-laden walls washed in yellow tones. A single bench sits on either side of the stage. The set changes very little over the course of the play, but no matter. It’s lovely, and enhanced every now and then by elements like hanging strings of small white lights. Scenic artist Laura Johnson’s experience with murals shines through. Costume design by Masi Hosler and lighting design by J. Alan Davis is beautiful as well.

There’s a serious sexiness to this production, filled with handsome men in crisp uniforms and gorgeous women in elegant gowns. Still, the tango falls a bit flat — lacking the flair of true tango, and feeling a bit like an afterthought rather than a passionate piece of storytelling. Better to focus on the cast’s command of Shakepearean dialogue, which is delightful. It’s all in the diction — that’s the word shared by “Much Ado” cast members during their opening night talk back after the show.

Several students attended the opening night performance. The house wasn’t quite full but it was full of laughter. Take your teens to see the show. Then ask them to imagine how things might have evolved differently were Beatrice and Benedick, or Hero and Claudio, armed not only with works — but also with Wi-Fi. “Much Ado About Nothing” happens everyday in our offices and schools, via telephone and text message. Time spent watching others get giddy is a fun reminder that reining it in often trumps letting it roll.

— Lynn

Note: Southwest Shakespare Company performs “Much Ado About Nothing” though May 5. Click here for details and ticket information.

Coming up: “American Idiot” opens at ASU Gammage

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Much Ado in Mesa

The Mesa Arts Center is especially lovely as the evening sun sets

I headed out to Mesa Friday night eager to see Maren Maclean’s performance in “Much Ado About Nothing.” Much of what our youngest daughter Lizabeth knows about acting, Shakespeare and herself stems from time spent with Maclean, whose Beatrice in “Much Ado” is fantastically funny.

Before taking my seat, I headed to a long table featuring wares being sold to benefit the Southwest Shakespeare Company — where I found a nifty necklace, beaded bracelet and two sets of earrings. Mother’s Day shoppers take note — performing arts venues have some of the coolest stuff at some of the lowest prices.

A Shakespeare bust, perhaps, for the mother who has everything?

I also spied a group of teens and stopped the adult walking with them to ask whether they were part of a school program, since I always like to hear student reactions to Shakespeare’s works. Turns out they were attending “Much Ado” as part of the Arizona Theatre Company’s Open Doors program — and had the opportunity to chat with a trio of cast members after the show.

While a nearly full house was enjoying “Much Ado About Nothing,” which is directed for SSC by David Vining, folks in another theater were watching the Mesa Encore Theatre production of “Ragtime,” which runs through Sunday. Tall MET banners in the MAC lobby herald their next production, the musical “Hairspray,” and reveal some gutsy choices for 2012/13 — including “Spring Awakening” and a “TBA” show signified for now by a pair of eyes peeking out from a purple backdrop.

The East Valley Mormon Choral Association performed Friday evening at MAC

During intermission, I strolled outside the theater to snap photos of red and yellow walls illuminated by Mesa Arts Center — but found myself drawn to a wide flight of stairs, where girls of all ages were gathered in matching navy blue dresses that reminded me of daughter Jennifer’s old chorus uniform. Soon I found a mom — and asked what they were up to. She shared that her 12-year-old daughter is in her second year with the East Valley Mormon Choral Organization, which performed a concert called “From Classical to Broadway and Everything in Between” at the Mesa Arts Center Friday night.

She was kind enough to share her program with me, so I could learn more about the organization — which is currently holding auditions for the 2012/13 season (auditions for the EVMCO symphony take place in August). Friday’s “Easter Concert” featured “I Dreamed a Dream” (from the musical “Les Miserables”), “Stouthearted Men” (from the operetta “New Moon”), “Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18” (by Sergei Rachmaninoff) and more. Their 2012 “Christmas Concert” takes place Dec. 1 at Mesa Arts Center.

Students in the ATC Open Doors program spoke with a trio of "Much Ado About Nothing" cast members after the opening night performance

After enjoying the second act of “Much Ado About Nothing,” I stayed for a talkback with members of the cast and creative tream — then made my way to the tiny Southwest Shakespeare Company studio where a trio of “Much Ado” cast members talked shop with Opens Doors participants. Truth be told, teens trump adults with better theater questions every time. Grown-ups eager to learn more about “Much Ado About Nothing” can consult the SSC play guide online and attend today’s 9am “Flachmann Seminar” with Maren Maclean Mascarelli, now the company’s education director.

Before Friday’s performance, artistic director Jared Sakren shared news of SSC’s 2012-13 season, which opens in September with “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and continues with Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” opening in late November. A January “Winterfest!” features “Hamlet” and “The Tempest” presented in rotating repertory by a single company of players. And works by other playwrights include Noel Cowards’ “Private Lives” (Feb/March) and William Goldsmith’s “She Stoops to Conquer” (April).

While admiring some of the Mesa Art Center’s architectual elements, I spied a poster for “Alice: A Wonder-Full New Musical,” coming to MAC in May thanks to Christian Youth Theatre in Phoenix — which is part of a national after-school theater arts training program started in San Diego. The pop/rock work by Jon Lorenz transforms two Lewis Carroll tales into a modern day adventure of high school students more smitten with listening to “The Red Queen” band than finishing their homework.

There’s a simple solution for that, by the way. Less pencil-and-paper homework, and more out-there-in-the-community arts education.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about additional performances, events, exhibits and classes coming to the Mesa Arts Center

Coming up: Tomfoolery meets tango

The circle of theater

Kylie Cochrane (Laura), Rebecca Steiner (Beatrice) and Scotlyn Mascarelli (Sara) backstage after Saturday's matinee performance of William Gibson's "The Miracle Worker" at Scottsdale Community College

Annie Baker’s “Circle Mirror Transformation.” Elton John’s “The Circle of Life.” Even Shakespeare-in-the-round and the Roundabout Theatre Company. Theater is full of circles — some dizzying, some delightful. But I had another sort of circle in mind when heading out for a performance of William Gibson’s “The Miracle Worker.”

The circle from child to adult, from teacher to mentor, from one mother to another. When high school felt torturous, theater was our daughter Lizabeth’s salvation. And Valley actress Maren Maclean, then teaching at Arizona School for the Arts, was there for her. To teach, to coach, to listen, to uplift and to embrace. I’ll never forget it.

Today I headed up to Scottsdale Community College for the matinee performance of “The Miracle Worker” so I could see Maclean’s daughter Scotlyn perform, knowing Liz would be right there with me if she could beam herself back from college acting studies in NYC. Our girls first met many years ago, and my how they’ve grown since.

Victoria Grace (L, Helen Keller) poses after the show with Sierra -- who brought lovely flowers to congratulate Grace on her performance

SCC  is another one of our circles. Our son Christopher earned his degree there and continues to take classes in career-related offerings, also working and volunteering with the school’s Center for Native and Urban Wildlife. It was actually Christopher who reminded me to hit “The Miracle Worker” — I kept feeling like late March was worlds away. The world spins quickly when we’re not watching.

Lizabeth also trained for two summers with Maclean — plus SCC theatre arts chair Randy Messersmith and other theater professionals — in the Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre, which celebrates its 25th season this summer. Auditions for the five-week program are open to folks ages 16 + and this year’s auditions take place Sat, April 21.

SCT “provides students with an opportunity to earn up to 10 semester hours of college credit while studying with professional actors who are currently working in their field.” This year’s program runs from May 29-July 3. The twenty students selected to participate will enjoy classes in stage movement, mask, voice and diction, and text analysis.

Carrie Rockwell (L, Aunt Ev) and John Viliott (Captain Keller) pose after Saturday's matinee of SCC's "The Miracle Worker"

The program’s founder and former director, Pamela Fields, will be teaching a master class in Anton Chekhov acting technique, and the college will be producing “The Good Doctor” by Neil Simon. I first met Fields while we were fellow ASU Gammage Goers, and recall being wowed by her theater expertise, insightful sense of humor and warm spirit. (I wasn’t yet in RAK “Stage Mom” mode.)

I suppose the circle is growing into something of a line at this point. Actually several of them. I’ll be following one to Mesa Arts Center for the April 19-May 5 run of Southwest Shakespeare Company’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” which features Jesse James Kamps and Maren Maclean as Benedick & Beatrice. I last encountered these characters during a Childsplay summer camp performance, which made me adore “Ado” even more.

The circle started long ago at Desert View Learning Center in Paradise Valley, where Lizabeth and fellow students enjoyed rich experiences in arts and academics. Lizabeth first took to the stage in Greasepaint Youththeatre productions of “Tom Sawyer” and “The King and I” (turns out a fellow actor from the latter is now a swing in “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Broadway).

I remember her absolute delight — and that of her sister Jennifer (who performed with great aplomb in “Pinocchio” and “Hansel and Gretel” at Greasepaint) — when teachers came to see her perform, and made time after to chat about the experience and ask for autographs. Today it was my turn to make a little girl’s day, though Scotlyn hardly needed the encouragement. No time for autographs when you’ve got another show to prepare for. Your last chance to see SCC’s production of “The Miracle Worker” is tonight at 7:3opm.

Grace (L) posing with Bonanni after Saturday's matinee

It’s a lovely, charming piece directed with finesse by Ron Bonanni. The script is absolutely beautiful — and a real delight for those of us whose passion for words mirrors that of teacher Annie Sullivan. You’ll know both Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan better for seeing it, and you’ll be impressed with the professionalism of this production — which features scenic design by Alex Keen and costume design by Elizabeth Peterson. It’s produced by Randy Messersmith.

Kirsten Zollars (Anne Sullivan), Victoria Grace (Helen Keller) and Christopher Masucci (James Keller) gave especially strong performances — and each excels at showing their character’s smart and saucy side. I especially enjoyed songs and spirituals sung throughout the play, and the playwright’s subtle digs at the politics and gender stereotypes of the time. That’s a whole other circle that just keeps turning.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for details about the application/audition process for this year’s Summer Conservatory Theatre at SCC. You can buy tickets for tonight’s performance of “The Miracle Worker” at the SCC Performing Arts Center at the door (SCC is located at 9000 E. Chaparral Rd.).

Coming up: A city inside a museum

Shakespeare meets Middle Ages

Mike Roush and Ali Rose Dachis in Southwest Shakespeare Company's Romeo & Juliet

If you’re accustomed to thinking of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” as a bittersweet story of young romance gone awry, you’ll find plenty that’s new in the Southwest Shakespeare Company production of “Romeo and Juliet” being performed through Jan. 21 at the Mesa Arts Center.

The work is directed by Richard Corley of Chicago, who set “Romeo and Juliet” during the Middle Ages — before the time it was written by Shakespeare. It’s an intriguing twist for those familiar with productions morphed into modern day settings.

Before a single actor takes the stage, you’re gripped by the jarring nature of the set — the work of scenic artist Laura Johnson. Juliet’s bedroom balcony is askew. Tombs appear cast asunder. And the single stained glass window dotted with dark red circles signals you’re peering into a desecrated church.

“Churches have so many associations with things that happen in life,” says Corley. Marriage. Death. “I wanted the set to be evocative.” Corley shared his vision for the production during a post-show talkback with cast and creative team members on opening night — noting his fascination with the play’s too often overlooked apothecary scene.

It sparked Corley’s exploration of “the sense of disease and starvation” that’s an undercurrent in the play — something he punctuates with Friar John’s (Spencer Dooley) explanation that travel routes blocked off for fear of the plague prevented him from delivering the note that could have saved Romeo’s life. 

It’s tempting to assume that there’s little thrill in seeing a work already mounted many times over. But this “Romeo and Juliet” will heighten your appreciation for parts of the story you might have overlooked. Many in the audience remarked that the production gave them a greater understanding and appreciation for the language of this play. 

Mike Roush, Andres Alcala and Ali Rose Dachis in Southwest Shakespeare Company's Romeo and Juliet

The journeys of Romeo and Juliet from childlike wonder to grown-up woe are well portrayed in this production, but I was most intrigued by their enablers — Nurse to Juliet (Janae Thomas) and Friar Laurence. Andrés Alcalá (Friar Laurence during evening performances) delivers an especially compelling performance.

The cast and creative team include both fresh faces and Valley favorites. Both Mike Roush (Romeo) and Ali Rose Dachis (Juliet) are graduates of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. Actor Training Program.

Alcalá was recently seen in Childsplay’s “The Sun Serpent” and is directing their upcoming production of “With Two Wings.” David Barker, the Valley’s best known fight choreographer, returns for his 25th Southwest Shakespeare Company production.

Southwest Shakespeare Company will present two additional works to round out their 2011/12 season — a Yasmina Reza play titled “Art” (March 1-17) and Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” (April 19-May 5). Jared Saken serves as artistic director, and Utah Shakespearean scholar Michael Flachmann will lead a “Much Ado About Nothing” seminar on April 21.

Folks eager to support the Southwest Shakespeare Company’s education programs can attend a Feb. 25 fundraiser dubbed “Speakeasy Night” at the Wrigley Mansion — which features Dennis Rowland and his Jazz Trio, emcee Bob Sorenson and plenty of live/silent auction items.

Those needing a summer Shakespeare fix can head to Cedar City for the Utah Shakespeare Festival. And those of you eager to return to the Middle Ages can simply throw out your televisions, laptops and cell phones.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for show and ticket information (no one under the age of six will be permitted for this production). For a taste of scholarly discourse about Shakespeare and the Middle Ages, click here to read a review article written by Dermot Cavanagh for the August 2011 issue of the “Journal of the Northern Renaissance.”

Coming up: Writing tips and resources, More Shakespeare on Valley stages

What’s new: Shakespeare

Christine Williams (left) as Hermia, Michael Brusasco as Lysander, Ashley Smith as Demetrius and Tiffany Scott as Helena in the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2005 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (Photo by Karl Hugh)

There’s a lovely assortment of Shakespeare coming to the Valley during the 2011-2012 season — thanks to the Southwest Shakespeare Company in Mesa.

Shakespeare works they’ll be performing include “Titus Andronicus” (Sept. 8-24), “Romeo & Juliet” (Jan. 5-21) and “Much Ado About Nothing” (April 19-May 5).

True “Titus” fans, including my daughter Lizabeth (who tells me “Titus” makes Showtime’s “Dexter” look tame), can also experience the work as part of the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2012 season.

Other works being performed by the Southwest Shakespeare Company for 2011-2012 include “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens (Nov 26-Dec 17) and “Art” by Yasmina Reza (Mar 1-17).

Those needing a faster Shakespeare fix can enjoy “Shakespeare at the Biltmore” June 2-11 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix — featuring the SSC performing Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

Or head to the Utah Shakespeare Festival for the following works being performed June 23-Sept 3: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Richard III,” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

Utah Shakespeare Festival also presents Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” and Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” June 23-Sept 3. They’ll perform Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off!” June 23-Oct 29.

Those who head to the Utah Shakespeare Festival this fall can enjoy Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” (Sept 22-Oct 29) and Frederick Knott’s “Dial M for Murder” (Sept 23-Oct 29).

Stay tuned to the Southwest Shakespeare Festival website to learn when single show tickets for their 2011-2012 season will be available. Season tickets are available now.

Tickets for the 2011 Utah Shakespeare Festival are already on sale, but folks who aren’t yet Festival members will have to wait until June 23 to get tickets for 2012 productions.

Ashley Smith (left) as Laertes and Emily Trask as Ophelia in the Utah Shakespeare Festival 2006 production of Hamlet (Photo: Karl Hugh)

In addition to “Titus Andronicus,” the 2012 Utah Shakespeare Festival line-up includes Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “Hamlet.”

Also Friedrich Schiller’s “Mary Stuart,” a stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a modern adaptation of Moiliere’s “Scapin,” Marie Jones’ “Stones in His Pocket,” a Tony-Award winning musical titled “The Drowsy Chaperone” and a holiday show they’ve yet to announce.

Folks who assume Shakespearean companies proffer only “doom and gloom” or “satire and silliness” are quite mistaken — as demonstrated by the diversity of offerings noted above.

If you’ve never given Shakespeare, or the fine folks who perform his works, a fair shake — maybe this is the season you should give it a shot. There’s a good chance, I think, that you’ll like them a lot.

— Lynn

Note: Paradise Valley Community College performs “Twelfth Night” directed by Eric Schoen June 17-26. Click here for details.

Coming up: “Macbeth” meets movie theater — plus, Valley high school students review “Macbeth”

Shakespeare and SB 1070?

I did everything a ‘good mother’ should do before leaving on vacation–made sure that all my kids had needed appointments scheduled, decluttered what would serve as a bachelor pad for my husband and son while I was away, did mountains of laundry–even wrote all the blogs you read last week while I was in Cedar City, Utah.

I vacation about once every ten years or so, though this was my second trip of the decade. A few years ago, I enjoyed a week in San Francisco with my oldest daughter, Jennifer, who feels more at home there than anywhere else she has traveled. The Embarcadero, by the way, is a glorious place to witness Fourth of July fireworks.

Most recently, I was in Cedar City, Utah with my youngest daughter, Lizabeth, who has been attending acting classes with the Utah Shakespearean Festival education program (which I’ll share more about in a future post). At first, I planned to leave my laptop at home–a clear signal to my daughter that she’s more important than work.

I ended up taking it along for recreational purposes–finding tourist attractions, learning more about all things Shakespeare while we enjoyed the Utah Shakespearean Festival. I felt a bit less guilty when Lizabeth shot text messages back and forth to friends as we drove around Cedar City in search of ‘slow food’ and serenity.

My first full day in town, I attended the “Works in Progress” show presented on the campus of Southern Utah University by acting and directing students at various stages in their Shakespeare journeys. 

As in all good love affairs, those who adore Shakespeare seem to find something new and intriguing at every turn. I’m beginning to appreciate, for the first time, the full measure of his hilarity and even the sexiness of some of his work.

Shakespeare appears to be my favorite sort of fellow–intelligent but rather odd. Astute. Sarcastic. Curious. Playful.  He’s an easy guy to hang around with for several days, and clearly habit forming.

Of course, we also did our part for Valley theater while we were there as Lizabeth ran around town sporting her black “Childsplay” t-shirt complete with their “Theatre for Everyone” motto and website. I hope some of the families who enjoyed the festival together will find their way to Arizona to witness one of our own theatrical wonders.

We were in Cedar City together as the national news was taking note of Arizona’s SB 1070 legislation, so we had only to turn on the television (which we did infrequently) to catch a glimpse of home. Coincidentally, I got to chatting with one of Lizabeth’s Shakespeare friends about immigration-related issues.

She shared with me her family’s own story of immigrating to the U.S. many generations ago from Italy–reflecting on the sadness felt by many immigrants who love their homeland but feel no choice but to leave it in order to provide richer opportunities for the children they love. 

She also spoke of the young Spanish-speaking students she tutors in phonics (actors often work in more than one profession to pay the bills and find other outlets for their creativity). She described their eagerness to learn English, and the pride they feel at being able to translate between Spanish- and English-speakers–reflecting that they serve as a beautiful bridge of sorts from one country, from one generation, to the next.

I found it hard not to pull out my laptop at times when Lizabeth was napping during the day. We were on festival time–enjoying shows at night and sleeping in each day.  Tuesday morning, after seeing a CNN broadcast on the big screen at a local restaurant, I decided to search for “art and immigration.”

The first thing I found was “Alto Arizona“–a site dedicated to visual art expressing opposition to Arizona’s SB 1070. Whatever your take on this issue, exploration of the art it inspires is fascinating. Perhaps our own local museums can enlighten us all a bit more about the long history of art in immigration-related discourse.

Like the works of Shakespeare, immigration-related issues are rich in depth and breadth. Both are worthy of further exploration…

–Lynn

Note: Lizabeth and I spent a week together in Cedar City, Utah. Watch for future posts about our adventures, the plays we enjoyed together (including “Much Ado About Nothing,” “The Merchant of Venice,” and “Macbeth”) and all things family-friendly in and around the Utah Shakespearean Festival (which runs through Oct 23 this year).

Coming up: Happenings at the Herberger Theater Center, Movie news and reviews, Thespian festival strikes again, Shakespeare and the superintendent, AriZoni award nominees (please send photos of 2009-2010 nominated shows to rakstagemom@gmail.com ASAP for possible inclusion in this post)

Shakespeare/there and here

I spoke with Lizabeth Sunday morning as she was bouncing back from an exciting night of theater at the Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City, located in the southwestern portion of Utah.

Enter the world of Shakespeare...

She’d just seen the world-premier of “Great Expectations: A New Musical” based on the novel by Charles Dickens and directed by Jules Aaron–and eagerly described both the work and the “greenshow” that preceeded it.

Greenshows consist of pre-show entertainment including song and dance performed on a green surrounding one of the festival theaters. Lizabeth shared that she was looking forward to Sunday evening’s show featuring Scottish and Irish performers.

The Utah Shakespearean Festival makes for a fun family getaway. Once you make the drive to Las Vegas, you’re just two and a half hours away from Cedar City and all that the festival has to offer–including performances, greenshows, play orientations and a host of seminars (literary, props, costumes and actors).

The Bard certainly makes for a beautiful bust

Our own Shakepearean gem, the Southwest Shakespeare Company based in Mesa, opens their 2010-2011 season with “Blood Royal” on Sept. 9. It’s an original adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Henry VI” trilogy by Michael Flachmann, directed by Jared Sakren.

But you needn’t wait that long to enjoy the best of the Bard.

Current offerings at the Utah Shakespearean Festival include three works by William Shakespeare, including “Much Ado About Nothing” directed by B. J. Jones, “The Merchant of Venice” directed by Sharon Ott and “Macbeth” directed by Joe Hanreddy.

Lizabeth has a theory that everything done in theater post-Shakespeare is a variation on a theme of sorts. I’m ill equipped to support or counter her case considering that I haven’t yet read his complete works or seen nearly enough of it performed on stage.

Do all roads follow from Shakespeare?

I’ll be hitting the festival myself before too long to up my “B.Q.”–my “Bard quotient.” Still, Lizabeth’s knowledge will likely surpass mine for an eternity.

She’s enjoyed “Shakespeare Collision” classes with Childsplay in Tempe since she was in grade school and studied with Randy Messersmith (co-founder and former artistic director of the Southwest Shakespeare Company, who serves as artistic director for theatre arts at Scottsdale Community College).

She’s also trained for several years with Maren Mascarelli (former company member of both the Utah Shakespearean Festival and the Southwest Shakespeare Company), and attended/competed in prior Utah Shakespearean Festivals with fellow theater majors at Arizona School for the Arts.

This summer, she’s attending a few of the festival’s summer programs–which includes seeing a wide variety of productions. Other shows currently playing at the festival include Alfred Hitchcock’s “39 Steps” directed by Eli Simon and an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” directed by Kathleen F. Conlin.

Your child may blossom after a bit of time with the Bard

Once you’ve had your fun with summer movies from “Eclipse” and “Despicable Me” to “The Sorcerer’s Apprectice” and “Standing Ovation,” consider a road trip to Cedar City that’ll give your kids a taste of what theater is like outside the four walls of a cineplex.

The Utah Shakespearean Festival is a grand getaway fit for everything from a weekend escape from the heat to a longer stay to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or family reunion.

The festival runs through October 23, with later shows to include Shakespeare’s “The Adventures of Pericles” directed by Kathleen F. Conlin as well as two other works.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning play “The Diary of Anne Frank” by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett (directed by Paul Barned) begins in mid-September, as does “Greater Tuna” by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard (directed by Brian Vaughn).

Make this your family's season of Shakespeare

There’s way too much going on at the festival for me to cover it all here, so your best bet is to jump online for details or call to request a Winter 2010 season brochure.

It’s got the rundown on the festival’s new playwrights project, backstage tours, educational offerings, membership opportunities and more. Even lodging, child care and pet-related details are covered.

And don’t forget to support the Shakespearean craft right here at home through our own Southwest Shakespeare Company.  They’ll present four Shakespearean works this season, along with Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

They also offer seminars, performances for students, pre-show workshops, post-show discussions, show guides for teachers and more.

So go on, treat yourself to some Shakespeare–there and here.

–Lynn

Note: Visit the Southwest Shakespeare Company website to learn about Target field trip grants that can help students enjoy live theater performance. Applications will be available online at www.target.com starting Aug. 1.

Coming up: Valley venues presenting new theater works

Photos (top to bottom): Shakespeare Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Shakespeare bust in the McAshan Herb Gardens, Shakespeare Garden at Vassar College, Shakespeare Garden in NYC’s Central Park, Children’s book titled “Bard of Avon”