This past weekend Jei and I took a drive down to Cedar City to attend the Utah Shakespeare Festival along with my younger sister. The four-hour drive was gorgeous as we decided to take the scenic route down south. It was a whirlwind of driving, dinner and show Friday night with barely enough time to enjoy the local grub and find our seats in the recently built Engelstad Theater.
First up was As You Like It, where one of Shakespeare’s most famous sayings come from. “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances…” The cast was fantastic and the set was beautiful. One of the most fascinating things about seeing the play in the theater we did is the fact that the Engelstad is the second most accurate recreation of the Globe Theater in the world. After we got in the car to head back to the hotel for the night we were all discussing the genius and interesting beginning Shakespeare gave a lot of the tropes and story outlines we have today.
Our next day was just as exciting but without the four-hour drive to exhaust us. Stopping by a local bookstore and a great coffee shop and breakfast place we enjoyed our morning with wasting time looking at old and new books before our next show. (Waste of time, ha! They are books!) After finding a few gems and stuffing ourselves silly with delicious food we made our way back over to the festival, ready to enjoy the Regional Premiere of Treasure Island. While I know it is far from a Shakespeare play, it is actually one of the reasons I prefer and love the Cedar City Shakespeare play over some others. They take the time to explore, put on and premiere old and new plays alike. I believe this truly celebrates the spirit of what Shakespeare was.
But enough of my rambling about how great the festival is to allow non-Shakespeare plays into their repertoire. Instead, let me say that singing sea shanties and watching the age old book of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1883 come to life was an absolute joy. Not to mention the great story but whoever designed the set was a pure genius. With a set so large and fluid it allowed scenes to go from one to the other without having to move large pieces this way or that. I’d honestly say that I’d love to see the play again.
Our next adventure after leaving the Randall Theater was to drive up the nearby canyon and take in some of the sites. The next show wasn’t for 4 hours so it left us plenty of time to explore. My sister, having once lived in the area and worked at the festival, had us go all the way up to a place called Cedar Breaks. While we didn’t have enough time or the appropriate dress to go hiking, we at least went out to the gorgeous overlook and snapped a few pictures of the grand mountains covered in strips of golden hues and valleys of green. It was breathtaking.
Of course, before we went all the way back down into civilization we made our way to a nearby steakhouse and grabbed some grub. It was delicious and of course worth the pretty penny it cost. We were on vacation! Next was Shakespeare in Love. Another non-Shakespearean play that was a regional premiere. I could tell right off the bet the natural chemistry between the two leads and was delighted to watch them dance through their lines and smile at the well-made interpretation of the script. Of course, during intermission, my sister pointed out that the two main leads were married and that it shows in their natural chemistry on stage. It was overall a great thing to watch.
So if you are anywhere near southern Utah or want to take a flight, train, automobile or maybe a teleporter out to Cedar City, I highly recommend checking out the Shakespeare Festival when it’s in season. I personally cannot wait until next year!