Utah Shakespearean Festival Celebrates 50 Years

By Naomi Legros

Fifty years have come and gone, and Cedar City, Utah is still maintaining its reputation for having one of the best professional theatre events in the nation; even winning a Tony Award in 2000 for “Outstanding Regional Theater.” For its 50th anniversary, the Utah Shakespearean Festival will feature Richard III, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more modern plays, The Glass Menagerie and The Music Man. The 2011 season has been running from June 23rd and will continue until October 22nd.

Cedar City, in southwestern city is close to many different state and national parks such as Zion and Bryce Canyon; and is just a stone’s throw away from Cedar Breaks National Monument.

The festival was founded in 1961 as a way to give tourists more evening activities after they visited the any of the six national parks in the area. And most importantly, to spread the love of the Bard with the rest of the community. Fred C. Adams, the founder of the festival arrived in Cedar City after spending some time in New York City checking out the theater areas. Once he arrived, he realized how many visitors came to the area annually and went to Ashland, Oregon, home of the original Shakespeare Festival. After observing how it went and talking personally with the founder of the Oregon Festival, he went back to Utah and created the renown festival (which takes place at the Southern Utah University campus) that tourists know and love. In honor of five decades in production, there will be an exhibit that showcases photos, costumes, programs and the original cast from the 1962 production will be making an appearance.

While you’re in Cedar City enjoying the festival, make sure to check out Cedar Breaks National Monument. The site, whose formations resemble Bryce Canyon National Park, was established into a monument in 1933 by President Franklin Roosevelt. The monument is also known for its Cedar Breaks Lodge, built in 1924 to attract rail passengers to visit the many parks in the area as well as attracting more people to ride the trains. There has been a recent urge to turn the national monument into a national park because it could expand the land’s area and potentially increase the number of visitors annually, attracting tourists at the same level as parks such as Bryce Canyon or Zion.

The Shakespeare Festival has three more months in production. So come out and enjoy critically acclaimed theater at its best, while celebrating 50 years of a tradition. For more information on the festival and the Cedar Breaks National Monument, visit http://www.utah.com/arts/shakespeareanfestival.htm and http://www.utah.com/nationalsites/cedar_breaks.htm.

Image: Performers at the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Source: Utah.Com