In today’s Wall Street Journal drama column I report on my recent visit to the Utah Shakespearean Festival:
To get to the Utah Shakespearean Festival, I flew into a small airport perched atop a bluff and stepped out of the plane into shockingly hot weather (the temperature was 110 when I arrived two weeks ago). Then I drove north through the most spectacular countryside imaginable, a gaudy parade of red cliffs, mesas and buttes so redolent of the films of John Ford and Budd Boetticher that I half expected to see Randolph Scott riding over the next hill. At the end of the trip was Cedar City, a college town near the mouth of a canyon, home since 1962 to one of the biggest Shakespeare festivals west of the Mississippi.
The Utah Shakespearean Festival, which runs from June to October, puts on four Shakespeare plays, three revivals and two musicals each season. The company, which performs on three different stages on and around the campus of Southern Utah University, won a Tony in 2000 for outstanding achievement in regional theater. No doubt because its audience consists in large part of tourists who come to the area less for Shakespeare than the scenery, the festival is unabashedly conservative in both programming and production style. Big-city visitors may well find its Ye Olde Renaissance Faire atmosphere a bit on the twee side–the snack bar actually serves turkey legs and Cornish pasties–but most of the onstage offerings I saw were solidly entertaining….
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