To go or not to go — is that even really a question?
The world-renowned Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City is ready to kick off another fantastic season this summer with a great lineup of plays and events, including Henry VI, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and more. Whether you are a Shakespeare buff or not, these performances will have you swooning in your chair at the sweet sound of declarations of love, laughing out loud as Shakespeare’s wordplay tests your wit and awe and humble you as you witness the tragic downfalls of heroes pitted with human foibles. Stunning reproductions and performances are sure to leave you inspired, uplifted, and of course, entertained.
A Festival Rich with History
The Utah Shakespeare Festival was founded with the mission of presenting life-affirming classic and contemporary plays, with Shakespeare’s work as the cornerstone. They hope these performances will entertain, enrich, and educate. And they have done just that, for over fifty years. Today, the festival attracts attention all around the country every year, as people come from far and wide to act in or watch the plays. Since its formation, the Festival has received multiple awards including the 2000 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, the 2001 National Governors Association Award, a 2011 Emmy award, and many others, including Best of State in arts and entertainment.
When the Festival first began in 1962, it attracted a little over 3,000 visitors. Today, it brings in over 120,000 each season. They now have four different theaters, including the famous Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, a beautiful reconstruction based on Elizabethan-era theaters, similar to The Globe, the theater in London Shakespeare worked in and then part-owned. Of course, some adjustments have been made to make the Engelstad Shakespearean Theatre comfortable and accessible to modern audiences. Overall, however, it is still a unique opportunity to see Shakespeare’s work in a near-authentic setting.
To learn the whole story of the festival’s formation and growth, check out this article on their website.
Your Quick Guide to this Season’s Lineup
Not sure which play you should attend? That’s okay — we have got you covered. Here is a quick and easy guide to each play that will be performed this season.
The Greenshow – Ashton Family Greenshow Commons
June 28 – September 8, 2018
The Greenshow is Utah Shakespeare Festival’s free nightly entertainment. Lighthearted song and dance serve as the festival’s nightly welcome to help guests get in the spirit of theater before they enter the play. There are three different shows, which are presented on alternating nights. The show often includes singing, magic, dance, and lots of fun.
Henry VI Part One
June 29 – September 6, 2018 – Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre
Henry V has died, leaving his son to be crowned king. With war raging in France, various factions vying for power in England, and approaching civil war, Shakespeare weaves together this seldom-told piece of history into a stunning tale of political intrigue.
June 28 – October 13, 2018 – Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre
Shakespeare’s Othello is a powerfully tragic story of passion and anguish. It is a fast-paced, devastating tale of how jealousy and fear can unravel the most intelligent minds and purest loves. It’s the story of a Venetian general who secretly marries the beautiful Desdemona. Iago, spiteful and jealous of Othello, is led to believe that Othello has had an affair with his wife. Iago’s anger transforms into a nefarious plot to get revenge on Othello.
The Merry Wives of Windsor
June 28 – September 8, 2018 – Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre
The Merry Wives of Windsor is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known comedies. It is the story of a quirky old man, Falstaff, who has his lusty eyes on a couple of middle-class housewives. These women, however, will not easily let Falstaff get the better of them, and their wit ultimately gets the better of him. This play is lighthearted and fun.
June 29 – October 13, 2018 – Randall L. Jones Theatre
Written by Larry Shue, the Foreigner is a comedy about Charlie, a vacationer seeking solitude at a Georgia hunting lodge. To avoid having to interact with the other guests, he pretends to be a foreigner who doesn’t understand English. However, he soon witnesses bizarre schemes by people who think he can’t understand a word they say, leading to confusion and non-stop hilarity that set up one of the funniest endings in all of theater.
June 30 – September 1, 2018 – Randall L. Jones Theatre
From a book by William Hauptman, adapted from a novel by Mark Twain, gives us another look into the adventures of the beloved classic-American character Huck Finn as he tries to help his friend Jim escape slavery. Featuring original lyrics and music by Roger Miller, audience members describe this play as hilarious, suspenseful, and heartwarming.
The Merchant of Venice
June 30 – September 7, 2018 – Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre
This play is often described as a comedy, and yet, throughout the years, we have begun to call attention to many of the deep-rooted themes Shakespeare wove throughout this play. When Antonio, a wealthy Venetian merchant, borrows money to help his dear friend Bassanio pursue love, things turn south when the moneylender learns that Antonio may not be able to make good on his bond. The Merchant of Venice is as much a suspenseful tragedy as it is a heartwarming romance-comedy. It is a story of racism, revenge, love, humor, greed, justice and mercy.
July 12 – October 9, 2018 – Randall L. Jones Theatre
This play is a modern retelling of the ancient classic, written by By Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare. An Iliad is the tale of the events following the Trojan war, sung by the Poet, who witnessed it all.
Pearl’s in the House
August 23 – October 13, 2018 – Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre
Workshopped at the Festival in 2017, this musical play focuses on Pearl Bailey, performer and special delegate to the United Nations in a racially-charged mid-twentieth century America. Bailey was a trailblazer for African-American women, yet a talk-show host in 1987 questions many of her motives. So Bailey responds the only way she knows how—through her music.
September 14 – October 13, 2018 – Randall L. Jones Theatre
In this play by David Ives, the charming Dorante cannot tell the truth, and his manservant Cliton cannot tell a lie. From this simple premise springs one of the Western world’s greatest comedies, a spirited seventeenth-century French farce brilliantly adapted for today, complete with mistaken lovers, suspicious fathers, sparkling romance, frothy comedy, and an abundance of breathtakingly intricate “alternative facts.”
Plan your trip to Cedar City
With so many different plays to choose from, from a variety of Shakespearean classics to modern comedies and dramas, the Utah Shakespeare Festival has something for anyone to enjoy. Tickets fill up fast, so now is the time to plan your trip to Cedar City!