Walking the tree lined courtyard of the Utah Shakespeare Festival lively music beckons you like pied piper. Taking your seat in the grand Engelstad outdoor theater, the spotlight rises and Elizabethan costumed actors take to the stage. You’ve entered a time warp and a magical evening under the stars is about to begin.
The Utah Shakespeare Festival was founded in 1961 by a young theater professor named Fred Adams. Adams envisioned a theater festival to entertain the millions of annual visitors to the nearby national parks. The Festival is one of the oldest and largest Shakespeare festivals in North America and most of the Festival’s lead actors are members of the Actors’ Equity Association and come from all over the country including Los Angles, New York and Chicago. Famous actors that have appeared on the Festival stage, include: Harold Gould, Benjamin Bratt, Jeremy Irons, Bradley Whitford (NBC’s The West Wing), Matt Bomer (USA’s White Collar) and Ty Burrell (ABC’s Modern Family).
In 2000, the Utah Shakespeare Festival received the coveted Tony Award for America’s Outstanding Regional Theatre. The Tony Award is the most prestigious and sought-after award in live theatre, the equivalent to the Academy Awards in film and is presented by the American Theatre Wing and the League of American Theatres and Producers. The Festival was nominated for the award by the American Theatre Critics Association.
Must See & Do
Eight plays are presented in repertory each season in three theaters: the outdoor Engelstad Theatre, which is a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the indoor Randall L. Jones Theatre, a stunning modern facility that features contemporary works, and the indoor Anes Studio Theater, an intimate 200 seat performance space. All three theaters are part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, located at Southern Utah University.
The free nightly Greenshow is a magical hour of music, dance, storytelling, juggling, snacks and food reminiscent of Merry Ol’ England held in the courtyard surrounding Engelstad Theatre. The free thirty-minute show is held just prior to the evening’s main stage theater performances June through early September. Monday through Saturday. Great for kids of all ages.
Backstage Tours & Seminars
For some, Shakespeare may be a little overwhelming. Prepare by attending the play orientation just prior to play’s performance where informative talks are conducted by theatre experts. The Festival also offers free seminars each morning where you can ask the experts, meet actors & directors, share your thoughts and opinions as well as get a close up look at props and costumes that come to life on stage. Backstage Tours allow you to step behind the scenes and visit various production areas and see how all the magic comes together.
One of the most magical (and difficult) aspect of repertory theatre is the twice-a-day scene change. Lighting, scenery, props, costume, and sound technicians must hurry to change everything from the matinee show to the evening show. It is a fascinating and well-choreographed process. Through Repertory Magic, you can witness the scene change, and ask questions as it is happening!
An evening at the Utah Shakespeare Festival is not complete without splurging on a few of their freshly baked tarts!