Utah Shakespeare Festival announces mix of new, familiar directors for 2017 season

CEDAR CITY — The Utah Shakespeare Festival artistic directors, David Ivers and Brian Vaughn, have announced a slate of 10 highly-creative, talented and experienced directors for the festival’s 2017 season.

“I am thrilled with the selection of artists joining us in 2017,” Ivers said in a festival news release. “This potent mix of new-to-the-festival directors combined with a few veterans will allow our stages to resonate with our patrons through an unprecedented array of offerings. I hope you join us!”

These nationally-known directors are attracted to this Shakespeare festival in Southern Utah for many reasons, most notably the quality of the work here and the beautiful surroundings, the release states.

Vaughn said each of the directors chosen for the 2017 season brings unique individuality and dynamic skill sets.

“We are confident their efforts will bring bold, explorative storytelling, coupled with rich design and thrilling performances, to the festival,” he said.

Utah Shakespeare Festival 2017 season directors

Kirsten Brandt will make her festival debut by directing the popular comedy “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

The Utah Shakespeare Festival has a wonderful national reputation in the theater community, and it is an honor to come work here,” Brandt said.

Christopher Edwards, who is also new at the festival, will be directing the humorous “William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged).”

“This brand-new play about a ‘newly discovered brand-new play’ is a rambunctious romp through some 49 of Shakespeare’s amazing characters,” Edwards said. “Three comic actors take on the huge task of producing a non-producible play with a cast of thousands, but this trio of clowns . . . take on the task with fervor, high jinks, anarchy, crowd participation and a whole lot of inspiration from William Shakespeare himself.”

Sean Graney, who is also making his first appearance at the festival this year, will be at the helm of the epic tale “Treasure Island.” This regional premiere adaption of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic will thrill the entire family with tales of buried treasure, pirates, adventure and song.

Joseph Hanreddy is returning to the festival to direct and adapt the world-premiere adaptation of George M. Cohan’s “The Tavern.” This adaptation of the satirical comedy “The Tavern” will be set in a remote Utah tavern and will include Utah locations and oddball characters that just might feel familiar.

Ivers will direct “How To Fight Loneliness.” This is the Intermountain West premiere of award-winning playwright Neil LaBute’s latest play and is intended for mature audiences.

Robynn Rodriguez returns to the festival directing William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” a rollicking frolic of confused courtship, beautiful poetry, and unsurpassed wit.

Peter Rothstein is directing at the festival for the first time in 2017, leading the musical “Guys and Dolls.”

“I am thrilled to be making my directing debut with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, an organization I have long admired,” Rothstein said.

J.R. Sullivan, who has long been associated with the festival, is returning this year to direct Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Sullivan was the festival’s associate artistic director from 2002 to 2009 and has directed festival productions from Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams.

Christopher Utley, also new at the festival in 2017, will be directing (and re-envisioning) the festival’s free pre-show entertainment, The Greenshow. Utley brings a host of experience with him, especially Disney experience.

“I look forward to developing and directing the 2017 Greenshow, with an eye toward heart, humor and surprise,” Utley said. “Our troupe of actors will welcome and engage our audience, setting the stage for whatever theatrical adventures lie ahead.”

Vaughn will continue his string of directorial successes at the festival with the stage adaptation of the film “Shakespeare in Love.”

Tickets are now on sale for the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 56th season, which will run from June 29 to Oct. 21. For more information and tickets visit the Utah Shakespeare Festival website or call 1-800-PLAYTIX.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts at Southern Utah University, which also includes the Southern Utah Museum of Art.

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Twitter: @STGnews

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