It was my annual trip of desert and drama. Fresh air and follies. Mountains and monologues. Okay, you get the idea. The Utah Shakespeare Festival is well underway and I made my regular pilgrimage to the theater-loving Cedar City in late July. The weather was perfect. Normally, our joke is that it’s a “dry heat”, making the high temps more bearable. But this time, it was in the 80’s with a cool breeze. It was downright lovely. If visiting Southern Utah is on your list, now is a great time.
When it comes to entertainment, I lean towards the comedies. Thus, my two picks were Charley’s Aunt by Brandon Thomas and The Taming of the Shrew by the Bard himself. Charley’s is performed in the Randall L. Jones Theatre and the evening performances of Taming are in the Adams Shakespearean Theatre. Both include love, false identity, and plenty of highjinks. Charley’s was directed by one of my festival favorites, David Ivers, and Taming was directed by festival vet, Fred C. Adams. Michael Doherty steals the show as the pal who pretends to be Charley’s Aunt after the real aunt sends word that she can’t make it. In England during the 1890’s, it was improper for young lovers to meet without a chaperone. The “aunt” is key to the lovers meeting. Melinda Pfundstein and Brian Vaughn are spicy as the shrew and her tamer. It is especially sweet since these two are married off stage, making their chemistry all the more palpable. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them spar. As most already know, the older sister is the tough cookie that the opportunistic suitor must crack in order for the younger sister to happily wed.
Year after year, I am struck but how sharp these casts are – if they miss a step, it would be hard for the average viewer to tell. The choreography is spot on and I was particularly pleased with the detailed set pieces. Rumor has it that the June previews revealed that the Charley’s set was tough to shift between acts – a whole 30 minutes to change backdrops. A few tweaks made for a more efficient change over and by the time I saw the show, there was no trace of struggle.
With the construction of the new theater and arts complex adjacent to the Randall happening now, this will be the last season in the Adams. After 38 years, I am bummed to say goodbye, but happy to see this festival thrive and expand. The summer season ends on September 5th, but the fall season runs until October 31st. See http://www.bard.org for all the great details. Check out my other article on Southern Utah for the long list of things to do that will make your trip all the more fantastic – https://siteswithstacey.com/2015/05/02/southern-utah/