It seemed a hands down impossibility when Founder Fred Adams first suggested the idea of the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City in 1961. His argument for success was based on two points: first, the more than 150,000 tourists visiting this southern Utah community needed something to do in the evening after visiting the area’s spectacular national parks; and, second, because he was himself a young actor who needed somewhere to ply his trade.
The initial 2-week season, featuring a playbill including The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet and the Merchant of Venice and performed by a small company of college students and townspeople, attracted an audience of 3,276. It also put $2000 in the coffers in anticipation of a second season based on continued support from Southern Utah University and the residents of Cedar City.
Today, the Emmy-award winning Utah Shakespeare Festival is a year-round operation in three theaters – including the Adams Memorial Shakespearean Theater – one of the most authentic Elizabethan theatres in the world. And, the Festival now has a $5 million dollar budget and a fulltime staff of nearly 30.
In 2005, Fred C. Adams stepped down from his role as the Festival’s executive producer to focus his full-time effort toward fulfilling a dream of an art center to house the Festival. He is now executive director of the Festival Centre Project.
Ground was broken in 2014. Construction on the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts is moving along quickly. When complete, in time for the 2016 Festival season, the Center will include the current Randall L. Jones Theater, the Engelstad Shakespeare Theater (replacing the aging Adams Shakespearean Theater), the Allen Anes Studio Theater; the Southern Utah Museum of Art (with galleries and storage for SUU’s permanent art collection); Festival offices and artistic work spaces. Outside, the Center will also feature lush gardens, walkways and statuary.
In the upcoming 2015 Festival season (the last in the Adams Theater), patrons will enjoy Henry IV: Part Two, The Taming of the Shrew and King Lear, three Shakespearean offerings in the outdoor Adams Shakespearean Theater and which will run on alternating nights from June 25 through September 5.
On stage in the indoor Randall Jones Theater, shows will include South Pacific and Amadeus performed on alternating nights or matinees from June 25 through September 5. The hilarious and popular Charley’s Aunt will also be performed beginning June 25 but will run through October 31.
The Bard’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Dracula based on the Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker, will alternate on the Randall Jones stage from September 23 through October 31.
Cedar City is an easy 50-mile drive up the I-15 freeway from St. George.
Even if you don’t think you are a fan of Shakespeare, the Festival will likely change your mind. If not, you’ll still enjoy our beautiful accommodations waiting at St. George Resort Rentals. We look forward to serving your vacation needs whether for a week or a month.