‘We can’t wait to be reunited’: Utah Shakespeare Festival announces 2021 season

A scene from "Hamlet" at the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2019 production of "Hamlet," Cedar City, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Karl Hugh, courtesy of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, St. George News

CEDAR CITY — The Utah Shakespeare Festival has announced plans to produce a full season in 2021, which will mark the festival’s 60th year producing theater. 

The 2021 season will run from June 29 through Oct. 9 and will feature four William Shakespeare plays: “Richard III,” “The Comedy of Errors,” “Pericles” and “Cymbeline.” Next year’s season will also include John Goodrum’s “The Comedy of Terrors,” Lyn Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel,” “The Pirates of Penzance” by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan and “Ragtime” by Terrence McNally, Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. 

In a press release issued Monday, Artistic Director Brian Vaughn said next year’s plays include some that were set to be produced in 2020, as well as new additions that are reflective of the festival’s mission.

“All of these titles explore varying themes of identity and mortality, the debate of fate versus free will and the examination of the human spirit’s ability to overcome injustice and oppression,” Vaughn said. “Combined, they make up a rich tapestry of drama that magnifies the intricacies of our collective humanity.”

Director of Development and Communications Donn Jersey said the festival’s 60th season will be dedicated to Utah Shakespeare Festival Founder Fred Adams, who passed away earlier this year. 

Utah Shakespeare Founder Fred Adams, Cedar City, Utah, date of photo not specified | Photo courtesy of SUU Community Education, St. George News / Cedar City News

“He was the magic behind it, and our job as the team that’s there now is to carry that magic forward so his legacy lives on,” Jersey said. “That starts with continuing to produce the theatre at a level that Fred always did, which we will do.”

Jersey said next year’s season will include an event celebrating Adams’ life, and he hopes patrons understand his accomplishments. 

“The magic of the man … a Tony Award winning, an Emmy Award winning professional contemporary theatre in Southern Utah makes absolutely zero sense, and there was one man that could make that happen and it was Fred C Adams,” Jersey said. 

Jersey said after the festival’s 2020 season was canceled, focus shifted from production to virtual seminars, fundraising to offset the costs of not producing a 2020 season and the 2021 season. 

Jersey said the festival’s virtual seminars have helped patrons remain in touch with the festival despite the 2020 season cancelation. 

“It makes them feel connected to the festival,” he said. “It’s going better than we ever expected and we’re so glad that we’re able to produce these and just have those connective threads to our patron base in Utah.”

Jersey said the festival’s main concern and motivation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been the community of Cedar City. 

“Cedar City has been there for the festival for 60 years and we want to be there for our community,” he said. “The theatre industry has been devastated, so it is a big deal that we’re planning on producing a full realized season. … We can help contribute to the economy of the community and support the community the way the community has supported us for a long time.”

Jersey said support from the community has been critical to the festival’s ability to move forward. 

Production photo from “Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat,” courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival, St. George News

“We’re in a really good place,” he said. “Our industry, as you know, has been decimated, and we are just so grateful to have the support we have because we are planning a fully realized season next year.”

Jersey said the Utah Shakespeare Festival is excited to be able to announce an upcoming season.

“We just want to let Utah know that we miss them, we can’t wait to be reunited and we hope that our announcement gives threads of hope and us producing next year will help Utah heal,” Jersey said. 

For more information on the festival’s upcoming season, visit the Utah Shakespeare Festival website.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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