It’s considered a bit of a fluke that the world’s first and only professional theater company dedicated to honoring the works of America’s comic playwright, screenwriter and author Neil Simon is held in Cedar City, Utah. Simon has written more than thirty plays and nearly the same number of movie screenplays, mostly adaptations of his works and has received more combined Oscar and Tony nominations than any other writer, but – as far as we know – he has yet to visit Cedar City.
The Festival in his name was created in 2002 by Richard Bugg, a longtime theater professor at Southern Utah University, “to provide accessible, entertaining theatrical experiences to excite imagination and nourish a lifelong passion for the theatre” … and “to preserve and honor the works of playwright Neil Simon and his contemporaries as well as foster the development of new American plays following the Simon tradition of character-driven plots and comic introspection into the American experience.”
The offerings for this year’s professional summer theater – running from mid-July to mid-August – include Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound; Neil Simon’s The Dinner Party; Noises Off, considered by some to be the funniest farce ever written; and, the world premiere of Under Construction: The Blue Collar Musical.
Broadway Bound is the final chapter of Neil Simon’s autobiographical trilogy which finds Eugene and his older brother Stanley working hard to make their mark as professional show business writers while also coping with family drama which becomes the thinly-veiled fodder for their breakthrough broadcast. This show plays on July 13, 18, 21, 26; August 1, 5, 10 all at 7:30 p.m. On July 28, August 3, 8 and 12, this “warm, perspective and gently humorous” show plays at 2 p.m.
The Dinner Party, a wildly successful Broadway hit, is seasoned with the kind of hilarity and chaos only a master chef of comedy could deliver. Five people are invited to a first rate Paris restaurant – but the reason is mysterious to each of them – and will change their lives forever! This “frequently hilarious” spoof plays on July 12, 16, 28, August 2 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. Matinees at 2 p.m. are performed on July 21, 26, August 4 and 11.
Noises Off, an hilarious and classically comic play by Michael Frayn, is described as “a manic menagerie of itinerant actors, door slamming, on and offstage intrigue and an errant herring.” This “spectacularly funny, peerless backstage farce” plays at 7:30 p.m. on each night of July 14, 19, 25, 29, August 3 and 11. Outstanding actors will take the stage at 2 p.m. on July 22, 27, August 1, 5 and 9.
Under Construction: The Blue Collar Musical tells the story of an unlikely group of construction workers who trade in their hard hats for top hats and put on a show for an audience showing up on an otherwise unscheduled performance day. The curtain goes up on this World Premiere Event at 7:30 p.m. on July 15, 20 22, 27, August 4, 8 and 12. Matinees will be performed beginning at 2 p.m. on July 25, 29, August 2 and 10.
Added entertainment comes in the form of Fireside in Zarahemla on Sundays – July 23, 30, and August 6 – during the month-long Neil Simon Festival season. A kind of Prairie Home Companion format, this FREE and wildly popular variety show is an evening of music, comedy, storytelling and heartwarming fun!
If you’re vacationing in St. George in July or August, we’re pretty darned certain you’re going to want to escape the Dixie sunshine to spend a beautiful – and cooler – summer evening (or a matinee performance) at the Neil Simon Festival. Register today for tickets to the Neil Simon Festival at www.simonfest.com … and, for a comfortable condo with a view of our red rock country online at www.stgeorgeresortrentals.com for the St. George Resort Rentals or www.laspalmasresortcondos.com for Five Seasons Vacation Rentals. Whether you are here for a week or a month, we are ready to serve your vacation needs!