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Fifty Years: The Utah Shakespeare Festival Celebrates Its Golden Anniversary


CEDAR CITY, Utah — Fiftieth anniversaries aren’t all that common in this rapidly changing world, and in the world of non-profit theatre, they are extremely rare. Thus, it is with a great deal of pride and anticipation that the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival is planning a host of festivities for its golden anniversary in 2011.

The anniversary celebration will include numerous community and Festival events, eight exciting and compelling plays, a new calendar and price structure, new artistic leadership, and a slightly updated logo for the venerable theatre company.

“We are very excited about plans for our fiftieth anniversary,” said R. Scott Phillips, Festival executive director. “We will, of course, continue to provide world-class productions on our stages, but we also plan on celebrating this landmark year throughout the region with many different events and parties.”

Plans are still being finalized for many of the anniversary events, but they include a reunion of cast members from the first season in 1962, a community-wide party commemorating Shakespeare’s birthday, a traveling exhibit of photos depicting the history of the Festival, special post-play entertainment throughout opening week, a vintage car show, and a beautiful coffee-table book of the Festival’s first fifty years. (A list of 50th Anniversary events is available here.)

The eight plays being presented from June 23 to October 29 will having something to please every taste and will offer the perfect celebration for long-term patrons of the Festival and for those who will be attending for the first time.

Plays in the Adams Shakespearean Theatre include three crowd favorites by William Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream will kick off the season. This magical comedy was directed in 1964 by Festival Founder Fred C. Adams, who will return to direct this season’s production. Richard III, the second play in the Adams Theatre, has long been one of Shakespeare’s most in-demand histories. This haunting play will be overseen by long-time Festival director Kathleen F. Conlin. The final play in the Adams Theatre will be the timeless love story of Romeo and Juliet, directed by one of two newly appointed Festival artistic directors, David Ivers. Plays in the Adams Theatre will run from June 23 to September 3.

Plays in the Randall L. Jones Theatre will kick off with the family musical Meredith Willson’s The Music Man, which will be directed by Brad Carroll, the composer for Lend Me a Tenor: The Musical, which premiered at the Festival and recently opened in England. Next will be The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. This classic American drama was featured in the first season of the Randall L. Jones Theatre in 1989 and returns this year, directed by another long-time Festival director J. R. Sullivan. These two plays will run from June 23 to September 3.

The third play opening in the Randall Theatre the first week of the Festival will enjoy an extended run through October 29. Noises Off!, written by Michael Frayn and directed by Jeff Steitzer, is a hilarious send-up of all things theatrical. The longer run for this play is the first step in the Festival’s plan for its future calendar.

“As we continue to grow, we envision a season with a number of plays opening and closing at various times through the summer and fall, and into the winter,” said Phillips. “This is the first step in that direction. During our fiftieth season, we will not have a ‘summer’ and ‘fall’ season, but one continuous season, with no breaks from June through October.”

The final two plays of the 2011 season will run from September 23 to October 29. First will be the beautiful Shakespearean romance The Winter’s Tale, directed by Laura Gordon, who will be making her first Festival appearance. Rounding out the celebration will be the thrilling murder mystery Dial M for Murder by Frederick Knott. This delightful whodunit will be directed by Brian Vaughn, also recently announced as Festival artistic director.

(For details of all the plays, please see the addendum to this article.)

In addition to changing its calendar, the Festival is also making one important change to its pricing structure: the elimination of service fees. In the past, the Festival (like most theatres) has charged a per-order service fee; however, in the future, there will be no such fee.

“This is something our patrons have requested, and we feel like it is the right thing to do,” said Bruce C. Lee, Festival communications director. “Now, when you order a ticket, the published price is all you pay, no fees, no postage charges, no additions of any kind.”

“This is all part of our commitment to our patrons,” added Phillips. “As we have been examining the past fifty years (and the next fifty), we wanted to make the patron experience as easy and enjoyable as possible, from purchasing tickets, to learning about our plays, to finding our theatres. We are definitely looking forward to an exceptional fiftieth anniversary.”

Tickets for the Festival are available now. To purchase tickets, or for more information, call the Festival Ticket Office at: 435-586-7878, or 1-800-PLAYTIX. You can also purchase your tickets (as well as access a wealth of Shakespeare and Festival-related information) by visiting the Festival web site at www.bard.org.


The 2011 Season


A Midsummer Night’s Dream
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Fred C. Adams
June 23 to September 3 in the Adams Shakespeare Theatre

This luxurious tale of fairies, dreams, and 
moonlight is Shakespeare’s most popular comedy. “The course of true love never did run smooth,” but when the feuding king and queen of the fairies interfere in the couplings of mortals, the result is bedlam, from the roguish 
Puck to the rustic would-be actors, from the impish fairies to the young lovers.


Richard III
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Kathleen F. Conlin
June 23 to September 3 in the Adams Shakespearean Theatre

King Richard has manipulated his way to the English throne by exploiting (or murdering) everyone in his path. Yet the ambitious son of York finds his wit and enigmatic charm are not enough to survive in the twisted world he has 
created. He now must face his own destiny in this haunting tale of the feats—and failures—of kings.


Romeo and Juliet
By William Shakespeare
Directed by David Ivers
June 23 to September 3 in the Adams Shakespearean Theatre

This timeless tale of “star-cross’d lovers” fills the stage with dashing swordplay and delightful wordplay. From the first blush of forbidden teenage love, to the blooming of a passion that fuels death itself, Shakespeare’s classic love story thrills anew in every generation, with every new production.


The Music Man
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Meredith Wilson
Based on a Story by Meredith Wilson and Franklin Lacy
Directed by Brad Carroll
June 23 to September 3 in the Randall L. Jones Theatre

When fast talking Harold Hill comes marching into town, you know there’s going to be trouble right here in River City. His goal is to con the good townspeople out of their money, but Marian the Librarian has other plans. This wonderful slice of Americana will leave your entire family humming such familiar tunes as “Seventy-Six Trombones, “Gary, Indiana,” and “’Till There Was You.”


The Glass Menagerie
By Tennessee Williams
Directed by J. R. Sullivan
June 23 to September 3 in the Randall L. Jones Theatre

This classic drama is a gripping portrait of an American family. Amanda Wingfield’s young adult children, Tom and Laura, are desperately trying to pick their way among the romantic memories of their mother’s past and the uncertain realities of their own future. In the process, they are haunted by both the beauty and the fragility of spun glass, and of human relationships.

Noises Off!
By Michael Frayn
Directed by Jeff Steitzer
June 23 to October 29 in the Randall L. Jones Theatre

Hilarious and frantic, this comic farce will whisk you backstage, to flubbed lines, false entrances, and a million laughs—to the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of a tattered troupe 
of actors and the play they are desperately trying to stage in front of the footlights.


The Winter’s Tale
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Laura Gordon
September 22 to October 29 in the Randall L. Jones Theatre

In this, one of Shakespeare’s most beautiful romances, a king, a queen, and their daughter are reunited—both physically and spiritually —through the power of forgiveness. What begins as a tale of betrayal and jealousy becomes, through time, a story of love and cleansing reconciliation.


Dial M for Murder
By Frederick Knott
Directed by Brian Vaughn
September 23 to October 29 in the Randall L. Jones Theatre

Tony married for money. Now he’ll kill for it. And you’ll be on the edge of your seat every thrilling moment of this quintessential murder mystery. It’s a dark, dangerous, delightful whodunit of forbidden love, delightful suspense, blackmailers, and backstabbers—
figuratively and literally.

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