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.


SUU-BNS: First Graduates

First Graduating Class 1900 Standing: Joseph T. Wilkiinson jr. and J. S. Dalley Sitting: Emma Gardner, Alice Reed , Amelia Dalley, and Ella Beny

First Graduating Class 1900
Standing: Joseph T. Wilkiinson jr. and J. S. Dalley
Sitting: Emma Gardner, Alice Redd , Amelia Dalley, and Ella Berry             Photo Courtesy of SUU Sherratt Library Special Collections


In 1900 the first class of the Branch Normal School had completed the necessary course work required for graduation. The first graduating class consisted of six graduates, each of whom received scholarships to proceed to the University of Utah to complete the fourth year of the normal course work. As per requirement of the scholarship, each of the six students agreed to teach for at least three years upon completion of their studies at the university.

It is impossible to grasp the educational impact of the Branch Normal School upon the entire region as you study the lives and service rendered by each of the graduates. However it is possible to see the BNS left an indelible mark upon the region as its first graduates went on to serve in public education. The graduates helped to realize and validate in a remarkably short time the vision of the founders. The first six graduates were Emma Gardner (Abbott), Joseph T. Wilkinson, Alice Redd (Rich), Ella Berry (Leigh), Julius Sylvester Dalley, and Amelia Dalley (Green).

Emma Gardner was one of 13 children of Royal Joseph and Chloe Louisa Snow Gardner of Pine Valley. She completed her elementary education at Pine Valley and Central schools then attended the BNS for her secondary training. Emma fulfilled her scholarship contract by teaching for 25 years in Mesquite, Nevada. She became principal of the school and served in numerous civic capacities. Emma married David Arthur Abbott of Mesquite on September 16, 1909 in the St. George LDS Temple.

Joseph T. Wilkinson Jr., was the fourth of five children born to Joseph T. Wilkinson and Elizabeth Emily Wells of Leeds. Joseph began his education at the local elementary school in Leeds, but when he was nine his family moved to Cedar City where he completed elementary school. He worked with his father and brothers publishing the Iron County Record. When the BNS opened in 1897 Joseph was one of the first students. After graduation from the University of Utah, Joseph fulfilled his scholarship contract teaching at schools in Hurricane, Rockville, Springdale and Moccasin and Cane Beds, Arizona. His normal schooling framed a teaching career that extended over many years.

Alice Redd (Rich) was the 13th child of Lemuel Hardison Redd and Keziah Jane Butler of New Harmony. After her graduation she taught for a year at Pioche, Nevada, then on to Paris, Idaho to teach at the Fielding Academy. It was there that she met and married fellow teacher Abel Sargent Rich. They settled in Brigham City, Utah and three of their seven children became teachers.

Ella Berry (Leigh) was the seventh of eight children born to William Shanks Berry and Rebecca Rocena Beck of Kanarraville. Ella attended the Parowan Stake Academy and entered with the first class. After her graduation from the University of Utah she taught just three years in the Iron County School District before marrying Harry Leigh. Harry was a young businessman and through the years his business prospered as did their family of nine children.

Julius Sylvester Dalley and his twin sister were the eleventh and twelfth children born to James and Johanna Bollette Bertelsen of Summit. Julius loved to learn and attended school through the fifth grade. Because there was no advanced school work available he attended this highest grade three consecutive years. He then attended the Parowan Stake Academy for a year before in the fall of 1897 he entered as part of the first class of the BNS. After his graduation Julius fulfilled his scholarship contract by teaching for a year in the basement of the tabernacle in Parowan. He then spent his life teaching all over southern Utah and Arizona. He taught in Summit, Monticello, Utah and Moccasin, Arizona and finished his career in Kanab, Utah. He was a strong civic leader, involved in education his entire life.

Amelia Dalley (Green) was a half-sister to Julius. She was born to James and Petrine Berleson Dalley. She and her twin sister Minnie were the ninth and tenth kids of fourteen children. Amelia was educated in the elementary schools in Iron County and enrolled at the BNS in the fall of 1897 at age 20 to complete her secondary schooling. Amelia fulfilled her scholarship contract by teaching for a year in a one-room school teaching 1-8th grades in Summit. She then accepted a position teaching 5th grade in Cedar City’s elementary school. She married George Bernard Green in 1907.

This group of six friends moved to Salt Lake City together for their obligatory year at the University of Utah. They rented a small house and all lived together with Petrine Bertlesen Dalley acting as their chaperone and house-mother. The number of lives these six graduates either directly or indirectly impacted is astronomical. And just imagine – the same school that graduated these six students over 115 years ago graduated 1,643 students in 2015. It’s difficult to comprehend just how much these six graduates influenced the future of not only SUU, but the entire region.

Southern Utah University: A Brief History

The history of Southern Utah University has been one of constant evolution and perseverance. The school began as a Branch of the State Normal School under supervision by the University of Utah who acted as its mother-institution. Normal schools were created to train high school graduates to be teachers. Their purpose was to establish teaching standards or norms; hence its name. In essence it was a teachers college. The institution was known as Branch Normal School from 1897 to 1913.

1914 Branch Agricultural College Journal

1914 Branch Agricultural School Journal

In 1913 after much lobbying on behalf of Cedar City the Branch Normal School changed to the Branch Agricultural College. This transfer to the BAC meant not only a change in mother-institutions, but also a change in purpose. The Utah Agricultural College located in Logan became the new supervisor and the school was able to offer classes outside the field of teacher education. Agriculture, domestic science, commerce and engineering courses were now offered in addition to the normal school coursework.  The institution retained the title of Branch Agricultural College for 40 years.


The "A" on the mountain for BAC.

The “A” on the mountain for BAC.

The college had experienced expanded influence over the growth and development of southern Utah.  It had become more than a community colleg; it was a regional educational center. There were many people who had been bothered that the name of the institution was simply the name of the school that governed it. The college needed a name that would more accurately reflect its history and mission. In June 1953 the Board of Trustee’s approved the name change and the Branch Agricultural College officially became the College of Southern Utah. The change of the name did not signify any change in status. In fact, the full official name was College of Southern Utah, Branch of the Utah State Agricultural College. But that title was so cumbersome that it was known simply as the College of Southern Utah.

Royden C. Braithwaite, 1976

Royden C. Braithwaite, 1976

The school kept growing and progressing. In 1961 the athletic department moved into competitive athletics with four-year schools. It was receiving accreditations and recommendations from governing bodies to move to an independent four-year institution. In each department there were evidences of progression and each was an incremental step in strengthening the petition for expansion. In 1965 with the efforts of Senator Dixie Leavitt, President Royden C. Braithwaite, and Hazen Cooley, the College of Southern Utah became an independent four year liberal arts college. For the first time in its 68 year history the school would have a governing Board of Trustees whose sole concern was the well-being and progress of the institution. The school was now officially a state school and many people believed the name should reflect the school’s status. In 1969 the College of Southern Utah changed its name to Southern Utah State College.

The school grew in size and prestige. After a re-imaging campaign in 1989 the student population grew 22 percent to 3,612 students. It became clear that this state college in the South had become a force in higher education. The mission and role of SUSC aligned with the mission and roles of other institutions nationwide that were operating under the title of university. Research had shown that more credibility was associated with diplomas that said university, which in turn made graduates more marketable. SUSC wanted and deserved that prestige. There was some opposition in the state with people saying that there would be too many universities, that SUSC was too small, or

Former SUSC and SUU President Gerald R. Sherratt

Former SUSC and SUU President Gerald R. Sherratt

that their focus wasn’t enough on research, thus not deserving the university title.  However with the diligent efforts of Regent Michael Leavitt, Senator Dixie Leavitt, Representative Haze Hunter, Institutional Council Chair Kay McIff, and the untiring efforts of President Gerald Sherratt  the mission was accomplished. At 11:15 on February 14, 1990 Governor Norman Bangerter signed legislation into law which changed SUSC to Southern Utah University. The change in name officially took place at midnight on January 1, 1991. A New Year and a new era for the school began in style with community festivities filling the night and the following day. A new age had dawned. After years of sacrifice and service, Cedar City was now home to a university – to the one and only, Southern Utah University.

Southern Utah University today.

Southern Utah University today.

Happy Thanksgiving from Frontier Homestead

To celebrate this wonderful holiday, we thought we would give you a few little treats. First this photo of Zion National Park taken on Thanksgiving Day 1923 by William Louis Crawford.

A snowy Thanksgiving in Zion.

A snowy Thanksgiving in Zion.

Second, during the 1950’s Cedar City historian and businessman William R. Palmer had a weekly radio program on local radio station KSUB. During his show, Forgotten Chapters of History, Palmer told tales of local history and sometimes covered other topics. Thanks to Special Collections at the Sherratt Library on the campus of Southern Utah University, many of these programs are available to listen to. On November 23 and 30th, 1952, Palmer presented parts one and two of his Thanksgiving Day program. Click the links and enjoy your holiday as you listen to Forgotten Chapters of History.

Thanksgiving Part I 11-23-1952

Thanksgiving Part II 11-30-1952


The Bell of Old Main

Southern Utah University is a school rich in traditions. One of those traditions began in 1923 with the installation of the bell in Old Main. This historic bell was actually given to the Branch Agricultural College by a group of prominent local women who founded the Home Economics Club. They organized the club to raise and maintain a financial fund that could be used to give assistance to any student who needed help completing their schooling. These spirited women strove to use their funds to contribute to any worthy cause. They decided to purchase a cast iron bell which they intended to give to the high school. However after the purchase had been made they realized that the high school had a flat roof and no way house a bell.

The ladies decided they should give it to the Branch Agricultural College with the suggestion that it be placed in the cupola atop Old Main, at this time the Library Building. The fact that the gift weighed 1,800 pounds presented an overwhelming challenge to the school. However the school graciously accepted the gift.

The students in the mechanic arts departments, with their inventive teacher, Mr. George Croft , solved the dilemma. Utilizing their collective muscle power they employed the department hoist and some steel cable and managed to fit the bell into the small tower. They also fashioned a mechanism that could be use to ring the bell. The bell rope extended from the operating crank, ending in a loop just below the ceiling. A tall pole with a hook facilitated the ringing of the bell.

The bell rang every morning at 8 o’clock reminding students and the town of the hour and of the school. The bell also rang to announce every athletic contest, at home or away, in which the BAC was victorious. The bell quickly found an endearing place in the hearts of the townspeople and the students of the school. For 25 years, every time the bell rang it reminded the community of their connection with the school they had worked so hard to build and to which they continued to expend their energies to sustain.

On a cold winter morning in December 1948, Old Main fell victim to fire. As the cupola containing the bell was consumed by the flames, the bell that had become a treasured tradition – came crashing down. You could hear the bell clang as it plunged from floor to floor until it finally crashed into the ground and fell completely silent.

The remains of the Old Main Bell

The remains of the Old Main Bell

No amount of optimism or work could restore the beloved old cast iron bell. A fund was started by students, alumni, and the community to place a carillon in the cupola of Old Main. The electronic carillon could imitate the sound of the swinging bell, but could also broadcast Christmas music during the wintry months. By December 1949 the new carillon was installed and little by little people transferred their affections and forgot the original bell. Now in 2015, the Carter Carillon, a free standing structure, not only marks the passage of the hours, but also the journey of students at Southern Utah University as they make their way from the freshman class to University graduate. By visiting the carter carillon link you can learn more about this tradition.


The Cedar City Fire Department circa 1948

The Cedar City Fire Department circa 1948

The firefighters

Back row – Ralph Hanzon, Mark Webster, Scherl Peterson?, Kay Melling, Grant Stevens, Jane Hunter, Carl Taylor, Frank Goddard, Elmer Anderson, Ernie Macfarlane

Front row- Charles (Buck) Gordon, Orwin H. Green, O.H. Rice, Sid Thompson, Marrion Grames, Eddie Peterson, Mel Arns

Old Main Fire

As the month of August barrels onward, Southern Utah University, here in Cedar City, is preparing to receive another class of students ready to advance in their chosen fields of higher education. The early history of SUU has recently been documented in an impressive film, partially shot on location here at Frontier Homestead. It can be seen here:  While the story of the building of Old Main is well known, the sad tale of its fire is not.


Old Main in Flames

The morning of December 12, 1948 should have been like another other Sunday. It was a clear, crisp, wintery day. There was no way to tell that this morning would change Cedar City forever. As Jack Walters and his father Roy were returning with the newspapers Jack was to deliver to the homes on his route, they noticed something unusual. There was smoke rising from the top of the Old Main building on Temple Hill. The two men rushed to the nearby home of Eldro Rigby, manager of the college farm, to sound the alarm. By the time they reached the Rigby home, flames were visible through the roof of Old Main. Rigby called the fire department and then called Edward Matheson, the school custodian, who was the first to reach the blaze. Matheson threw off all the electrical switches to the building, but the fire was already blazing through the dry attic.

As students became aware of the situation they rushed to the scene and formed a human brigade up the steel fire escape and began to retrieve all that was possible of the precious books and artifacts housed in the historic Old Main. Retired Cedar City Fire Chief David E. Bentley was only 14 years old at the time, but clearly remembers that winter morning. “I could see black smoke coming from the college…I quickly dressed and ran from my home …up the hill towards the Old Main building. As soon as I reach the top of the hill, Sheriff Art Nelson put me in line with other students to help save the books. We worked furiously, passing piles and piles of books to safety until the fire reached the library. Books were then quickly thrown out the windows, which damaged some, but saved many from certain destruction.” The students worked undeterred until they were forced to vacate the property only moments before the burning roof caved in. They then stood by helplessly to watch the remaining materials be consumed by the blazing inferno.

Students watching the fire.

Students watching the fire.

Almost in a daze, Professor Parley Dalley stood at the corner of the building, pouring water towards the flames with a garden hose. The Cedar City Fire department arrived on the scene only to discover that the new truck they had purchased which could pump 750 gallons per minute did not have a nozzle that fit the hydrants located on campus. While the fire continued to grow in strength, precious minutes were lost stringing the fire hose from the door of Old Main, east down the sidewalk, over  to the 300 West and College Avenue intersection where there was a hydrant that would fit the powerful hose. By the time this was done, the fire had such a hold on the building that the firemen couldn’t do much more than contain the flames.  During all of this, on the west side of the building firemen worked diligently with a 1939 Studebaker, a booster pump and 200 gallons of water, but all they were able to do was spray the embers coming from the roof.

Ralph Hazon, Orwin Green, and other courageous firemen took a hose into the burning building in an effort to contain the flames, but by the time they reached the stairwell, the smoke and fire were so strong it made it impossible to advance any further. As they began to withdraw the fire reached the tower containing the cast iron bell. The most dramatic moment occurred when with a resounding clang, the bell crashed from floor to floor, falling finally to ground. The bell, constructed by the local Iron Works Company, was so badly cracked that it was unsalvageable. Many townspeople fought to save the bell, but it was eventually melted down and used for other purposes.

It took about three hours to get the blaze under control. During that short time virtually everything in the building was consumed by the flames or completely destroyed. The community just had to watch as the building that so many of their families had sacrificed everything for – went up in flames.

Several old men, who 50 years before had been young men filled with dedicated determination, now stood sadly by. These were men of the lumbering expedition and the building crews of 1897. They watched tearfully. Rob Bulloch recalled the emotion he felt as he watched the historic structure he built go up in flames, “It was the older men then, who could see what could be done, and they filled us with enthusiasm so that we did what was needed. Now it is our turn to enthuse the young ones to get this building rebuilt.” The whole community was in mourning. Not so much for the loss of the books, furniture, and paintings which could be replaced, but for the loss of an integral part of Cedar City’s proud heritage.

As the ashes settled it was time to assess the damage. The art department and library had been demolished. Art professor Mary L Barstow’s paintings, a lifetime of work, were completely destroyed in the fire. Only about 20 percent of the library collection had survived the fire. Those few books were carried to the cafeteria where students attempted to place them in some semblance of order. The business department on the lower floors of the building had been protected by the falling books and the machines and equipment from that department were salvaged.

Administrators and faculty members met early on Monday morning to discuss what should be done. True to the resolve of the Cedar City community, they were not going to let the tragedy of losing their beloved and cherished Old Main prevent them from moving forward. By Monday afternoon regularly scheduled classes were back in session. While crammed into inadequate spaces, none of the classes were forced to move off campus. Students and faculty entered into a spirit of cooperative effort and virtually no class time was lost.

President Wayne Driggs was dedicated to the concept that, even though the cost would be greater, they were going to remodel and restore Old Main maintaining the original exterior and its historical integrity. The fire again brought the town and college into cooperative effort. With much tenacity and lobbying on the part of the citizens of Cedar City and repeated refusals to take “no” for an answer, Utah Governor Herbert Maw appropriated $150,000 so that the repairs for Old Main could begin immediately. Cedar City would be back within the walls of their beloved Old Main before two full school years had passed.