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Talkin' Broadway V.J.

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Regional Reviews: San Francisco

One of the beauties of my real job is that it allows me to travel anywhere in the world and do my work via computer. And so it was that I spent May and June in New York and then headed back to Las Vegas for the summer. The highlights, of course, from that New York jaunt was producing Talkin' Broadway Cabaret 1 at Don't Tell Mama and attending the Tony Awards.

Each July, good friend James Mullay throws a birthday bash for me and his mother, Emily Mullay, who just so happens to celebrate her birthday on the same day, July 6. Jim suggested that we do something different this year. His idea was to take a daytrip up to Utah sponsored by KNPR National Public Radio and visit the Utah Shakespearean Festival. A bell went off in my head. Why was the Festival familiar to me? I had never been to Utah. We were joined by fellow Talkin' Broadway friends Curt Chandler, Robert Rusie and Rolf Carsten. The six of us hopped on the chartered bus and after a short journey of 150 miles we arrived on the beautiful campus of Southern Utah University where the Festival is held.

The Utah Shakespearean Festival began as a dream in 1961 by its founder, Fred C. Adams, and came to realization in 1962. In that first two-week season they attracted over 3,000 patrons and made a profit of $1,000. Today, in their 39th successful season, the Festival runs Summer through Fall and attracts over 150,000 visitors, and what a Festival it is!

With Zion National Park and Brian Head as neighbors, Cedar City is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the U.S., if not the world. It's just breathtaking and a sense of relaxation permeates the air. There are several theatres at the festival to house their productions, but the one that caught my eye was the Adams Shakespearean Theatre. It's a truly gorgeous outdoor Elizabethan theatre modeled after the Old Globe. There are several other theatres, all of which are used every day during season. There is so much going on that one could spend an entire week here and not get bored.

Not only do they produce the works of the Bard but you'll also find works of other writers in the form of musicals, comedies and dramas, even original works. In addition to Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, The Merry Wives of Windsor and The War of the Roses this season, also on the boards is The Cherry Orchard, Noises Off, and Peter Pan. You can also take backstage tours, enjoy a medieval feaste, or partake in many other scheduled events.

We caught The Merry Wives of Windsor in the Auditorium Theatre and what a delightful production it is! Dennis Robertson as Sir John Falstaff has the audience in the palm of his hand with his twinkle-in-the-eye performance. And while Falstaff is, perhaps, the center of attention, Libby George, as Mistress Quickly, gets her share of the spotlight. Corliss Preston and Fredi Olster, as the two trickster wives, were just too much fun. In all fairness though, it's a huge ensemble cast filled with terrific performances and talent.

If you're travelling this summer to the national parks, head on over to the Festival. Stay a day or three. You'll think you've gone to theatre heaven. You can visit their Website for information on the Festival, Cedar City, and environs.

On the way out of the theatre, I notice a glass case in the center of the lobby. Inside is the 2000 Tony Award the Utah Shakespearean Festival received in June for Outstanding Regional Theatre. There's that bell in my head! And it's a Tony Award deservedly given to Mr. Fred C. Adams, founder and executive producer of the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Joined on stage when Mr. Adams accepted the award at Radio City were staffmembers Scott Phillips, Cameron Harvey, Doug Cook, and Sue Cox.

I couldn't think of a happier way to spend a birthday. Good friends, good food, and above all, great theatre!

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