The Utah Shakespeare Festival: Part 4- The Past is Prologue

Chris Mixon as Charlie Brown in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2002 production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright 2002 Utah Shakespeare Festival.)

The Utah Shakespeare Festival has undergone great change since its first season in 1962. Facilities have been constructed, productions have grown in size and scope, and the Festival staff has grown to include a number of full-time employees. In 2002 the larger format, three-play fall season debuted with I Hate Hamlet, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Twelfth Night. In 2011 the Festival announced that, for the first time, a play would run through the traditional break between the summer and fall seasons.

Fred and Barbara Adams, circa 1960

Tragedy befell the Festival when on October 22, 2008, Barbara Gaddie Adams, Fred’s wife and longtime partner and confidant, succumbed to a long illness and passed away. Barbara, along with Fred, had shepherded the Festival from words on a little yellow notepad to a nationally recognized, Tony award-winning theatre company. Barbara had coordinated all the preshow activities, the music, singing, puppet show, and dancing that provided the atmosphere for Festival goers as they prepared for the transition from the contemporary to the Elizabethan. Barbara Adams’s creative spirit is memorialized by a bronze plaque located on the wall of the Adams Theatre, near The Greenshow performing space—a fitting tribute to the program she proved instrumental in developing.

The Engelstead Shakespeare Theatre

The expansion of the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s artistic and technical company and a longer theatrical season required new spaces.  The much loved Adams Theatre had served its purpose in enriching, entertaining, and educating the lives of those who sat in her seats and witnessed her bounty. Like the stage before, the passage of time and changing technology have taken their toll. In 2016, the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre opened its doors and a new Wooden O now stands guard over the works of the Bard and serves as an anchor for the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s future.

John Wascavage (left) as The Suspects and Paul Helm as Marcus Moscowicz in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2016 production of Murder for Two. (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2016.)

Additionally, the Eileen and Alan Anes Studio Theatre, now serves as a creative space for the development of new plays. This flexible 200 seat venue is able to be configured in a variety of seating styles to better enhance the vision of the playwright, designer, or director. The Anes theatre allows for the exploration of the theatrical experience and provides Festival patrons the opportunity to discover the diversity of the world stage. The Anes Theatre is home to the new plays program where scripts are workshopped and tested with a small audience before being moved to the larger Festival stages. This theatrical laboratory shows the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s continuing commitment to the development of theatre professionals and to the expansion of America’s influence on world drama.

USF Founder Fred C. Adams – at the beginning.

The future of the Utah Shakespeare Festival is rooted in the tradition of what it does well and in a commitment to utilize that shared past as a springboard for the future. The expanding and deepening of programs, the construction of new theatres, and the development of a core artistic company are not without challenges. However, these same difficulties were met and faced fifty years ago by a young drama teacher, and we all know how that turned out.

To find out more about the Utah Shakespeare Festival and see what is coming in the future, visit their website, www.bard.org

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The Utah Shakespeare Festival: The 1980’s & 90’s

1981 ticket

Fred and Barbara Adams had built their dream. The summer productions in the new Adams Memorial Shakespearean Theatre had sell out crowds nearly every night, operating at 98 to 99 percent capacity, which offered no room for growth. The Festival had become too successful for the current space.

A construction tour of the Randall L. Jones Theatre.

Festival and college representatives turned to the Utah State Legislature for assistance in funding the construction of the new theatre. The legislature, while agreeing that the project sounded interesting, refused to fund the building. A representative advised them to look into the mineral lease money that the mining companies operating in Iron County had been paying into for over fifty years. The mineral lease fund was established to offset the impact made by the mines on schools, hospitals, roads, and other public works projects. A large sum had been paid in, but very little taken out. The mineral lease board agreed that a new theatre for the Festival was worthy of funding and awarded most, but not all, of the construction costs. The descendants of Randall L. Jones, an early booster of southern Utah, provided the remainder of the needed funds, and the new theatre would now be named the Randall L. Jones Theatre.

Sunset at the Randall.

The 1989 season, the first using both the Randall Theatre and the Adams Theatre, featured six plays, three in each theatre, the most the Festival had ever produced in one season. Festival producers decided they would need two separate companies. They duplicated every position, one for the Adams Theatre and one for the Randall Theatre. This proved very expensive. The 1989 season ended with a $379,000.00 deficit. Relief came from Paul Southwick, vice-president of finance for Southern Utah University, who had been pulling some of the Festival profits each year into a rainy day fund, which had more than enough money to cover the deficit, and the Festival was saved. The Utah Shakespeare Festival did not repeat the mistakes of 1989 and began double casting roles for both the Randall and the Adams theatres.

Karen Thorla (left) as Helena, Alexis Baigue as Demetrius, Stefanie Resnick as Hermia, and Brandon Burk as Lysander in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2017 Shakespeare-in-the-Schools production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2017.)

Fred C. Adams believed in the power inherent in Shakespeare’s texts to change lives for the better, and the Festival created an education program to take that message to schools across the West. Fred’s traveling show, Costume Cavalcade, evolved into the Shakespeare-in-the-Schools Tour, a traveling group of trained actors who perform abbreviated versions of Shakespeare’s major plays in schools throughout the region. The actors also meet with the students after the show, answer questions, provide training, and help them better understand the concepts brought to life on the stage.

Brian Vaughn (left) as Smudge, Jered Tanner as Jinx, Michael Fitzpatrick as Frankie, and Gregory Ivan Smith as Sparky in the 1999 Utah Shakespeare Festival production of Forever Plaid. (Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival.)

By the late 1990s the business community of Cedar City began asking the management team of the Festival if they would extend their season in an effort to keep the much needed tourism money flowing into the local economy. Southern Utah University worked with them for a test run in 1999. The Festival would pick two very small plays, Forever Plaid and The Compleat Works of Wllm. Shkspr (Abridged), and see if a fall season could be economically viable. The plan worked, and the fall season began.

R. Scott Phillips (left), Sue Cox, Douglas N. Cook, Fred C. Adams, and Cameron Harvey receiving the 2000 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre. (Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival.)

In May of 2000, the American Theatre Wing and the Broadway League announced that the Antoinette Perry or “Tony” Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre would go to the Utah Shakespeare Festival. The Tony, comparable to the Academy Awards in film, is the most highly sought after accolade in American theatre and, for the Festival, was the culmination of nearly four decades of hard work and superior artistry.

Cedar City: A Look Back – The Utah Shakespeare Festival

This year marks the opening of the 56th season of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. We thought you would enjoy this photo of the founder Fred Adams as he directs the cast of The Taming of the Shrew. This was the first play of the first season. For the rest of July we will be detailing the history of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, an organization that still brings over 100,000 people to the local area each year.

Founding Director Fred C. Adams offers suggestions prior to 1962 opening night.

 

Cedar City: A Look Back – Union Pacific Train Depot

The Cedar City Depot was built and paid for in 1923 by Union Pacific with the hope that a railroad spur would increase rail tourism in Southern Utah. The trains brought tourists and movie companies into the area and the depot served as the gateway to the national parks until 1960, which marked the final year for regular passenger use of the railway. The north end of the depot served as the express office where local residents could pick up rare items such as salmon and halibut from the Northeast. The depot officially closed in 1984 and now serves as the location for a variety of local businesses.

The depot, 1924.

The depot with the El Escalante Hotel in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

The UPC vehicles ready to transport the arriving tourists.

The cast of “Forlorn River” leaves Cedar City, 1926.

Trains leaving the depot.

Cedar City: A Look Back – Welcome Sign

Tourism has been and continues to be an economic mainstay for Cedar City and Iron County. In summer of 2016, a little over one million visitors, ate, slept, shopped, and were entertained in our local area. This does not count the thousands who come during the winter to enjoy our amazing winter recreation opportunities. This Welcome sign stood on the corner of Main and Center for many years. The photo was taken in 1947. For up to date information visit the Cedar City – Brian Head Tourism Bureau at visitcedarcity.com

Cedar City: A Look Back – The Carnegie Library

Carnegie portrait that hung in the library. Now in the collection of Frontier Homestead State Park

Carnegie portrait that hung in the library. Now in the collection of Frontier Homestead State Park

This impressive structure was built in 1914 on property adjacent to the Cedar City Tabernacle on Center Street and Main. The building ceased being used as a public library in 1957 and was purchased by the State Bank of Southern Utah in 1966 for $35,000. Having been vacated in 1969, the building was torn down in 1970.

For a more detailed account of the Library’s construction and development click the following link: Cedar City Library History

 

Cedar City's Carnegie Library

Cedar City’s Carnegie Library

The Carnegie Library sat just to the left of the Tabernacle.

The Carnegie Library sat just to the left of the Tabernacle.

Cedar City: A Look Back

Throughout 2017 we will be featuring an historic photo of Cedar City each month. This month, a wintry scene of Main Street looking south from the corner of 200 North. This photo was taken in the 1930’s.  Cedar’s Main Street has been the city’s main thoroughfare for the  majority of its existence. Businesses and buildings of yesteryear are displayed in this photo. Angled street parking, skewed mileage signs, and , now classic, automobiles provide a sense of nostalgia to the life-long residents of this community.

main-st-winter

Hollywood Comes to Cedar City

Gronway (left) and Chauncey Parry 1917

Gronway (left) and Chauncey Parry 1917

It began when brothers Gronway, Chauncey, and Whit Parry relocated from their Salt Lake City home to the rural southwestern Utah town of Cedar City.  Gronway, the oldest, saw this community as an opportunity to succeed in a variety of business enterprises, including transportation and lodging. He quickly advised his brothers to come and share in his success. The Parry brothers soon capitalized on the national interest in Zion and Bryce Canyons and the natural amphitheater at Cedar Breaks.

Chauncey, having trained as a pilot during WWI, combined his loves of flying and photography and spent many hours creating amazing aerial footage that he would soon market to the film studios in Hollywood. In 1924, the Fox Film Corporation announced that the world’s most popular cowboy Tom Mix would film his next movie Deadwood Coach in the area.  Cedar City was now in the viewfinder of Hollywood movie studios and fervently opened their community to them.

Cast of "Forlorn River" leaving Cedar City, 1926

Cast of “Forlorn River” leaving Cedar City, 1926

Upon leaving Cedar City, Tom Mix prophesied “We have pioneered the picture production business in your section much to our satisfaction and that of the director, and we feel that our reports on the possibilities of your country will induce many other companies to follow.” And follow they did. Movies such as: The Good Earth, Union Pacific, Drums Along the Mohawk, Brigham Young, Can’t Help Singing, My Friend Flicka, and Proud Rebel were all filmed in Cedar City and the surrounding areas.

The Gem Photoplay became the first theater in Cedar City. In 1919 Thomas A. Thorley built the Thorley Theater, replacing the Gem. Throughout the following decades, the Thorley would undergo a series of name changes including theAvalon and the Utah but by the 1950’s it would come to be known as the Cedar Theater.

Gem Photoplay - 3rd from left

Gem Photoplay – 3rd from left

Cedar Theatre, 1968

Cedar Theater, 1968

The Thorley Theater served as the location for the Utah premier of the Cecil B. DeMille film Union Pacific in 1939. Union Pacific was one of many motion pictures filmed in the area. Local resident York Jones remembers, “It was a thrill to watch the premier because you could recognize the people who were extras.” The Cedar Theater has become a local landmark and is directly tied to the history of the Cedar City and southern Utah area. It is the last of the traditional movie houses in the community as its sister theater the Parks, formally the Orpheum, was destroyed by the great main street fire of 1962.

Parks Theater, 1940's

Parks Theater, 1940’s

Filming on Cedar Mountain, 1930's.

Filming on Cedar Mountain, 1930’s.