News From the Festival

Meet the Team: Every Brilliant Thing to Tour 2023-2023

Every Brilliant Thing

By Liz Armstrong

CEDAR CITY, UT – Offered free by the Utah Shakespeare Festival to every public high school in the state of Utah, the life-affirming play Every Brilliant Thing will tour once again this year. Sponsored by the Utah State Legislature, this production aims to address the extremely high suicide rate among Utah teenagers. 

Every Brilliant Thing follows the experience of one person dealing with how his mother’s depression and suicide attempts affect his life,” Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox said. “It is a poignant, moving story with the potential to reach students who may be personally coping with mental illness or who are witnessing its impact within their family or social network. Using the arts as a platform to discuss this devastating issue allows students to safely learn how to approach the topic and where to turn for help.”

Starting this February, the show will tour across the state of Utah to bring the heartwarming and comforting message to secondary school students. To reach as many schools in Utah as possible, the tour will continue in spring 2024, as well. 

“Our 2019/2020 tour was a wonderful success,” said Tour Manager Jordan Simmons. “The tour allowed students to start important conversations with parents, school counselors, and local mental health professionals.” The play provides a framework, resources, and tools for a positive and interactive discussion about suicide and depression. 

The Plot 

The story begins when, at seven-years old, the lone character learns that their mother is in the hospital after her first attempt to take her own life. Afterwards, they begin a list. A list of everything brilliant about the world. Everything worth living for. With humor and inventiveness, the story explores depression and hope, uncertainty and change, relationships and solitude, risk and resilience, guilt and forgiveness.

Meet The Team 

Cordell Cole – Director 
Previously at the Festival, Cole held roles in Richard III, Pericles, Ragtime, and Macbeth. Additionally, he acted in the Every Brilliant Thing tour the last time it went out. 

He has also taken on Othello in Othello at the Texas Shakespeare Festival, Nick in Nick’s Flamingo at Alliance Theatre, and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet at American Shakespeare Center. 

Jordan Simmons – Tour Manager
Simmons received a Master of Fine Arts in Arts Administration from Southern Utah University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Technology from Utah State University. 

He was the production assistant for Every Brilliant Thing and Twelfth Night at the Festival. He has also been the production assistant for The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Mamma Mia at Pacific Conservatory Theatre and the stage manager for Part of the Story for Salt Lake Acting Company. 

“I was one of two tour managers on the 2019/2020 Every Brilliant Thing tour,” Simmons said. “I’m excited to again watch students realize that it’s okay to talk about what they’re experiencing, even if what they’re experiencing is difficult.”

Kathryn Whilden – Stage Manager
Whilden received a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Spanish from Wofford College. Previously at the Festival, she was the assistant stage manager for The Sound of Music. 

Whilden has also worked for Cape Fear Regional Theatre, Triad Stage, and Clinton Area Showboat Theatre. 

Meet the Actors 

Kat Lee 
Lee received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Otterbein University. Previously at the Festival, Lee acted in Intimate Apparel, Ragtime, and the 2019/2020 tour of Every Brilliant Thing.

Additionally, she played Martha Cratchit in A Christmas Carol at Denver Center for Performing Arts, Savannah in Freaky Friday for Lyric Repertory Company, and Lorrell Robinson in Dream Girls at Short North Stage. 

Jeremy Thompson 
Thompson received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Idaho. Previously at the Festival, he was in All’s Well That Ends Well, King Lear, and the 2019/2020 tour of Every Brilliant Thing.

He also has taken on roles at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Island Shakespeare Festival, and Idaho Repertory Theatre. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to reconnect with some students who saw the first tour and hear how the show stuck with them, especially through the uncertainty and anxiety of the 2020 school year,” Thompson said. “I’m very grateful to be able to bring this story to a new generation of young people.”

Funded by the State of Utah, the production is free to any secondary education school in Utah that is interested. The tour will begin February 13, 2023, and will run through the end of April. If you would like Every Brilliant Thing to come to your school or community, please complete this form: Tour Request Form.

“Young people need the affirmation that they are not alone. Each and every student that will watch this production will be reminded that they are needed, they are loved, and they belong here,” Governor Cox said.

For more information on the play, access the study guide at

For questions, contact Simmons at 435-299-0567 or

Festival Honors Beloved Actor Carole Healey

By Liz Armstrong

Carole Healey was involved with the Festival for over two decades. A teacher, actor, and director, she was extremely talented. She passed away on January 9, 2023, after a valiant battle with cancer and will be lovingly remembered.

“The Festival was so blessed to have Carole perform for so many years,” Interim Managing Director Michael Bahr said. “Not only was she an incredible performer, but she was a generous artist who graciously taught acting workshops and mentored numerous actors within the company.”

Healey’s first season at the Festival was in 1991, when she took on the role of Katherina in The Taming of the Shrew and The Woman in Death of a Salesman. Other notable roles included Regan in King Lear (1992), Portia in Julius Caesar (1992), Mother Marguerite de Jesus in Cyrano de Bergerac (1992), and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (2004). She was also in Blithe Spirit (2004), The Tempest (2007), The Matchmaker (2007), The Moustrap (2007), and Fiddler on the Roof (2008). Her last season at the Festival was in 2011, when she played Duchess of York in Richard III and Mrs. Paroo in The Music Man

The actor is also known for her roles in the films “The Understudy” (2008) and “Tender Loving Care” (1998), as well as in the television series “Law and Order” in 2001. 

In addition to Healey’s love for theatre, Bahr noted that she had an affinity for nature.

“She epitomized Mother Earth, planting gardens across from her apartment, hiking the local canyons, and opening her home and heart to nurture others and sharing her craft with both patrons and artists,” Bahr said. 

Fellow actor Carey Cannon played alongside her in King Lear, as Regan to her Goneril. 

“She was one of the finest actors I ever had the privilege of working with, and I got to do it right there at the Festival in King Lear,” Cannon said. “It was a thrilling production . . . and Carole was a true great lady of theater. I feel blessed to have been able to share the stage with her.”

In addition to her talent onstage, Cannon noted that she was proud to be a part of the venerable tradition of storytelling, and that she created a community wherever she went. 

Artistic Director of Northlight Theatre BJ Jones was a close friend of Healey’s and seconded Cannon’s remark. He reflected fondly on the evenings she curated, noting that she was a superb mixologist of people, always with generous inclusion. 

“Her gatherings were a mix of the sublime, intoxicating and exotic folks, who quietly and without realizing it, became an ensemble of friends that would last long after a visit to Carole’s porch,” Jones said. 

According to Jones, the electricity generated at her gatherings carried into each rehearsal and performance, “lighting up stages across the country, warming all of our hearts long after her leaving.”​obituaries/pwpb0412309

Festival's Shakespeare in the Schools Othello to Have Public Performance in Cedar City

By Liz Armstrong

CEDAR CITY, UT – Each year the Utah Shakespeare Festival presents a Shakespeare in the Schools tour to bring quality performances and workshops to schools and communities throughout the West, and has been doing so for twenty-nine years.

This year, the condensed 75-minute performance of Othello will allow students and teachers to experience professional theatre and to interact with and learn from the tour’s company members through workshops and talk-backs.

“We are very excited about sharing Othello with audiences,” Associate Education Director Stewart Shelley said. “This is the first time we have toured this show and in an increasingly divisive world, this production is incredibly valuable. It serves as a springboard for further discussions including the value of communication; the dangers of jealousy, rage, and hatred; and the importance of love and trust in any relationship.”

Cedar City Public Performance
Before Shakespeare in the Schools takes the timely message of Othello across Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah, there will be a public performance on January 27 in Cedar City.

At 7:30 pm, the performance will be held at the Southern Utah University Auditorium Theatre, located on the southwest corner of University and 300 West. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children over age six. To purchase tickets, go to or call 1-800-PLAYTIX. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.

About the Touring Team
“Director Cordell Cole and a talented team of designers and actors have created a visually stunning, aurally impactful production of this classic tragedy. It is one not to be missed,” Shelley said.

In addition to Cole as director, the production team consists of Technical Director April Salazar, Tour Manager Abby Nakken, and Stage Manager Lindy Rublaitus.

Cordell Cole • Director
Cordell Cole previously toured with the Festival’s 2019 productions of Macbeth and Every Brilliant Thing. Previous mainstage productions include Ragtime, Julius Caesar, Pericles, and Richard III. He has performed all over the country and other favorite productions include Into The Woods, Spamalot, Something Rotten, The Seagull, and As You Like It.

April Salazar • Technical Director
April Salazar received a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with an emphasis in Design and Technology from Texas A&M. She was the technical director for the 2022 Much Ado About Nothing tour and worked as an electrician and spotlight operator during the 2022 season at the Festival. She has also worked at Laredo Theatre Guild International, Santa Fe Opera, and Tuacahn Center for the Arts.

Abigail Naaken • Tour Manager
Abigail Naaken received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Classical Acting from Southern Utah University. Previously at the Festival she has been in the 2019 tour of Macbeth, Cymbeline, Shakespeare in Love, Romeo and Juliet, and Fiddler on the Roof. She has also performed with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company and Kentucky Shakespeare Festival.

Lindy Rublaitus • Stage Manager
Lindy Rublatius is currently earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communication-Theatre-Teaching and was a teaching artist at Black Hawk Children’s Theatre in Iowa. She was an assistant stage manager for As You Like It at the University of Northern Iowa, stage manager for Clue at Waterloo Community Playhouse, and properties head for Blood at the Root at University of Northern Iowa.

About the Actors
Darin Earl II • Othello
Darin Earl II received a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Journalism from Rider University. He has teaching credits from Writers Theatre of New Jersey, Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey, and Mount Saint Dominic’s Academy. Earl was an understudy on Off-Broadway in Ye Bear & Ye Cub at 59E59 Theaters and played Damian in Inferno: A New Work About Sin at The Flea Theater. His film credits include “The Dennis Boys,” “852 Forest Road,” and “Foul Play.”

Ian Geers • Iago
Ian Geers received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from Boston University and was a teaching artist at Montana Shakespeare in the Schools, National Players, and Performing Arts Center Chicago. He has acted at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Michigan Shakespeare Theater, and Virginia Stage Company. Geers has also been in the television show “Chicago P.D.”

Rachel J. Jones • Desdemona
Rachel J. Jones received a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. She has played Lady Macbeth in Macbeth at Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Marianne in Constellations at Liberty Exhibition Hall, and Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music.

Nazlah Black • Emilia/Bianca/Others/Intimacy Captain
Nazlah Black received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre from the Cornish College of the Arts. At Emit Theatre, Black played Viola in Twelfth Night, Cordelia in King Lear at Barefoot Shakespeare, and Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night at Match:Lit. They also played Rosalind in the film “As You Like It,” presented by Shakespeare in the Woods.

Noah Ratgen • Cassio/Others/Associate Fight Choreographer/Fight Captain
Noah Ratgen received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from Shenandoah Conservatory. He has acted in many roles at Children’s Theatre Company, was in A Christmas Carol at Guthrie Theatre, played Malcolm in Macbeth at Hoosier Shakespeare Festival, and was Iachimo in Cymbeline at Nashville Shakespeare Festival.

Nic Sanchez • Roderigo/Others
Nic Sanchez received a Bachelor’s Degree from New York University. He has taken on a plethora of roles at American Shakespeare Center, played Lucio in Measure for Measure at Smith Street Stage, and portrayed Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night for Shakespeare in the ‘Burg.

Shay Jowers • Brabantio/Montano/Lodovico/Others
Shay Jowers is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. They have played Renfield in Dracula: Mina’s Quest and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Nebraska Repertory Theatre.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival’s production of Othello is part of Shakespeare in American Communities: Shakespeare for a New Generation, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with Arts Midwest. It is also sponsored by Ally Bank, POPS Utah State Office of Education, and Southern Utah University.

If you have any questions, contact the Utah Shakespeare Festival Education Department at 435-865-8333 or, or visit

Festival Announces New Education Director Katherine Norman and Associate Education Director Stewart Shelley

Katherine Norman and Stewart Shelley

By Liz Armstrong

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is thrilled to announce their new Education Director and Associate Education Director. Katherine Norman has been hired to fill the position of Education Director while Stewart Shelley, who has been serving as Interim Education Director, will be the new Associate Education Director.

Interim Managing Director Michael Bahr said these individuals illustrate the Festival’s commitment to education and in cultivating the future through theatre and Shakespeare.

“Norman’s extensive experience as a theatre educator, director, and Shakespeare scholar is a guarantee that our education department will continue the great work that has distinguished it for the last two decades,” Interim Aristic Director Derek Livingston said.

“And the elevation of Stewart Shelley to Associate Education Director, after his tenure as the Interim Education Director, ensures that our Education Department will flourish as a jewel of the Festival’s offering.”

Education has been a fundamental part of the Festival’s mission since the beginning, and Bahr believes Norman and Shelley will solidify its educational legacy and provide a catalyst and vision for continued growth.

Education Director Katherine E. Norman

Katherine Norman is the new Education Director at the Festival. She has an immense amount of knowledge and experience in theatre and arts in education that will greatly benefit the Festival.

Norman received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and began performing, teaching, and touring after earning her undergraduate degree.

“That’s when I really fell in love with the educational side of [theatre],” Norman said. “I was driven to understand theatre and education and the truly unique impact I saw arts education having on so many students I got to work with.”

Norman then received a Master of Science in Educational Neuroscience and a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Theatre with a focus on theatre with youth from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her education didn’t stop there, however, and Norman is finishing a PhD in Educational Psychology with a focus on arts and cognition and learning from the same university. She will be defending her dissertation later this year.

“My path has [always] been focused on the goal of better understanding and advocating for arts in education,” Norman said.

After years of seasonal and contracted work, teaching in the theatre department at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, and serving as the Education Director for Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, Norman is excited to take this new position at the Festival.

She was drawn to the Festival because it “blends professional theatre with educational content that focuses on bringing students here for camps, classes, and the competition while also sending tours out to schools.”

Norman also has room to conduct research because the Festival is housed within Southern Utah University. She believes this future research could benefit work at the Festival as well as contribute to the national conversation about arts in education.

“[That’s in addition] to the work that is done here with students and teachers and professional development,” Norman said. “I don’t think those three parts – theatre, education, and research– exist anywhere else but in this magical place [at the Festival].”

Norman is ready to get to work and plans to become familiar with the community, get to know the programming at the Festival, and form relationships with those involved in theatre and education.

“I am excited about bringing my experience of theatre spaces and research spaces and pairing it with Stewart’s experience in classrooms,” Norman said.

Asssociate Education Director Stewart Shelley

After serving as the Interim Education Director, for the past year and a half Stewart Shelley has taken the position of Associate Education Director and will be working side by side with Norman.

Shelley attended Brigham Young University where he received a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts Education, and later received a master’s degree in Education Administration from Grand Canyon University.

He spent 19 years as a high school theatre teacher. Stewart’s experience with the Festival runs way back, as he attended the Shakespeare Competition as a teenager and later brought his own students to the competition as a teacher.

Shelley is thrilled to be working in a very collegial environment with Norman.

“My knowledge of Utah, Utah schools, the geography is something I can help Katherine with, and her knowledge of research and her dissertation is something I look forward to learning more about,” Shelley said. “I think we complement each other very well.”

Shelley said this about the future of the education program at the Festival: “The programming that Michael Bahr created is really strong and rooted in the community. A lot of what we are currently doing we will continue to do, but we are both excited about this new collaboration and new ideas.”

Bahr agreed with Shelley, stating that Norman and Shelley will solidify the Festival’s educational legacy and provide a catalyst and vision for continued growth.

Festival Acknowledges Passing of Prop Artisan Walter Stark

Walter Stark

By Liz Armstrong

“He offered advice and adopted many of us over the years,” Festival Properties Director Ben Hohman said. “I learned so much from Walter, about technology and electronic gadgets . . . but also about being an amazing human.” 

After a long battle with cancer, Walter Stark passed away at the age of 82. Stark was a senior prop artisan for ten years, and he was an integral part of the Festival. 

Interim Managing Director Michael Bahr would like to pass along Festival condolences to Stark’s friends and family, as well as express immense gratitude for his years of service at the Festival. 

Stark’s partner Judith Kilpatrick said that he discovered the Festival and was intrigued by the sets and props for the plays. 

“He made the acquaintance of [Hohman] and what he learned excited him so much he asked to be hired by the props department,” Kilpatrick said. “He grew more involved each year as he was presented with interesting demands for creativity.” 

Stark assisted in helping create the calliope in Scapin and the Model T in Ragtime. 

“He said props created magic for the audience,” Kilpatrick said. “He was immensely proud to be a part of the process, to the point of working his last seasons for only room and board.” 

In addition to Hohman and Marielle Boneau, former Festival Scenery Director Dan Giedeman expressed that Stark worked at the prop shop longer than any other employee. Working side by side with Stark, Giedeman noticed that he made a point to seek out each artisan, taking most to dinner to learn more about who they were. 

In addition to being personable and caring, Stark was a man of extreme intelligence. He was a nuclear scientist, and his thirst for knowledge became evident in the prop shop. 

“He had a fascination with the process of building and repairing props,” Giedeman said. “He used to say that he wanted to sit at my table for days and just watch me work.” 

Hohman voiced that although Stark came from a science background, he found his inner artist working at the Festival. Stark was willing to learn from other artisans, but he also took the time to get to know their dreams and aspirations.

“He took all his technical know-how and helped us create amazing props over the years,” Hohman said. “Although his attention to detail was impeccable, his attention to the people around him was what made Walter really stand out.”

Stark will be sorely missed, as he not only improved the quality of props here at the Festival, but was a shining example of what it means to be a “good human.”

Our Favorite Festive Songs

Englestad Shakespeare Theatre

Happy Holidays! We at the Festival plus some of our seasonal company members from 2022  compiled a list of our favorite festive songs to share some holiday spirit with you. Please comment your favorite holiday song on our Favorite Festive Songs post on Facebook or Instagram @utahshakespeare to join in on the fun!

Visit our Spotify playlist at:

Derek Charles Livingston – Interim Artistic Director & Director of New Play Development
“The Christmas Song” performed by Nat King Cole
“It was a favorite of many family members,  especially my great-grandmother’s,” Livingston said. “I recall a host of us being at what was the house she shared with her son, my Uncle Frank, and him singing it in her honor.”

Troy Adams – Facilities 
“Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” and “O Holy Night”

Liz Armstrong – Communications Assistant and Writer 
“Do You Hear What I Hear” by Martina McBride and “Mary, Did You Know” by Pentatonix 
“I grew up listening to Martina McBride’s holiday album, and so it elicits a feeling of nostalgia for me listening to it year after year,” Armstrong said. 

Astrid Bacy – Marketing Assistant
“Opera of the Bells” by Destiny’s Child
“It was my first caroling experience when I was 6. It was so magical,” Bacy said. “We all stood outside on my uncle’s porch in one of the rare years it snowed in Dallas, Texas. It was cold but the carolers’ voices were ethereal. It is what made me want to sing.”

Marielle Boneau – Assistant Properties Director
“We Need a Little Christmas”
“It was on a compilation Firestone Singers-type of record we would listen to when I was young.  I had no idea it was from Mame until I was out of college,” Boneau said. 

Kami Paul – General Manager
“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”
“It reminds me to find hope,” Paul said. 

Aubree Rasmussen - Guest Services Manager
“Home for Christmas” by NSYNC (the album)
“Growing up, I got the NSYNC Christmas album as an early holiday present from my mom. We used to turn it on and listen to it while we played Nintendo games when all of us kids (there are six of us) were out of school during winter break,” Rasmussen said. 

John Bixler – Duke of Albany in King Lear and Sebastian/Ceres in The Tempest
“How to Make Gravy” by Paul Kelly
“I love this song because it focuses on our traditional and chosen family and the small traditions that bind us,” Bixler said. 

Anastasha Blakely – E. Dumaine in All’s Well That Ends Well and Stephano in The Tempest 
“Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by NSYNC
“This was the first tape I owned and listened to on repeat on the way to my grandma’s house,” Blakely said. 

Aaron Galligan-Stierle – Wadsworth in Clue and Pirelli in Sweeney Todd
“River” by Joni Mitchell
“I love the peaceful imagery and feeling it evokes,” Galligan-Stierle said.

Shannon Galligan-Stierle – Frau Schmidt in The Sound of Music 
“In the Bleak Midwinter” by Shawn Colvin
“It gives me old-timey fireside vibes and her voice reminds me of my youth with so many wonderful memories accompanied by her music,” Galligan-Stierle said. 

Antonio TJ Johnson – Sheldon Forrester in Trouble in Mind
“The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole 
“It’s my mother’s favorite song and quite frankly the only thing I like about Christmas,” Johnson said.

Luke Sidney Johnson – Baron Elberfeld in The Sound of Music, Ensemble in Sweeney Todd, King of France/Captain/Ensemble in King Lear 
“The Christmas Song”
“It’s a classic which encapsulates the feeling of Christmas for me,” Johnson said. 

Aidan O’Reilly – Caliban in The Tempest and The Fool in King Lear
“White Christmas” by The Drifters
“It reminds me of being a kid during the holidays which was always a magical time,” O’Reilly said. “It still is when I get to see my nieces experiencing it too.”

Jacob Sorling – Swing for The Tempest 
“Christmas in L.A.” by The Killers feat. Dawes
“This song truly touches on the loneliness of moving to L.A. as an artist and not being able to easily go home for Christmas,” Sorling said. “The song is so cathartic.”

Jeremy Thompson – G. Dumaine in All’s Well That Ends Well, Burgundy/Herald in King Lear, and Fenton in Trouble in Mind 
“Christmas in the Trenches” by John McCutcheon
“I learned about the World War I Christmas truce through the song ‘Snoopy’s Christmas’ by the Royal Guardsmen. ‘Christmas in the Trenches’ tells the same story from a more grown up perspective and my parents recorded it from a radio show onto a cassette tape where it became the first track on our family Christmas mix,” Thompson said. “It still moves me to tears.”

Bryce Barnhill – Wardrobe Assistant
“Here Comes Santa Claus” by Gene Autry
“I grew up [listening to] it when I helped my family with decorating the tree and we’d pull out the radio and play some Christmas music CDs. It was always good and fun,” Barnhill said. 

Camillia Klausmeier – Ticket Office Staff
“O Come All Ye Faithful” by Scott D. Davis
“This song hits a balance of the whimsy of Christmas, the classic traditions, and just good music,” Klausmeier said.

Savannah LeNoble – House Manager
“I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”
“It’s my favorite song because I have been listening to it since I was a baby,” LeNoble said. “I remember singing it with my mom and dad a lot.”

Emilio Medina – House Manager 
“Last Christmas” by Wham
“It’s just a bop,” Medina said. 

Sarah McCarroll – Costume Shop Manager/Englestad Wardrobe Supervisor
“We Need a Little Christmas” by Angela Lansbury
“Angela Lansbury - what more could you ask for?” McCarroll said. 

Rebecca Villalobos – Hair and Make-up Fellow
“Feliz Navidad”
“It is such a simple, fun song to listen to and dance to!” Villalobos said. “Being half Mexican, it’s also a song that just reminds me of my family. That song always plays on Christmas Eve in our house.”

Shakespeare in the Schools: Othello to Tour in 2023

Othello Tour Art

By Liz Armstrong 

CEDAR CITY, UT – The Utah Shakespeare Festival is thrilled to announce its 2023 production of Shakespeare in the Schools, an annual touring production. A team of 10 members will travel across Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah, bringing the timely message of Othello to students. 

Shakespeare in the Schools “brings quality Shakespeare performances and workshops to schools and communities throughout the West,” and has been doing so for twenty-nine years. 

The shortened 75-minute performance will allow students to experience quality theatre, while the 15-minute talkback following the show gives students the opportunity to interact with the actors. The acting company also teaches three performance-based workshops covering text and voice, stage combat and movement, and improvisation. 

Associate Education Director Stewart Shelley said the tour is incredibly important because it gives students a full Shakespeare experience. 

“It’s important for students to hear Shakespeare’s text spoken out loud and see the actors embody the characters,” Shelley said. “This tour is a really important next step in understanding Shakespeare as a classical playwright and understanding his stories.”

The tour will start January 30 and end April 21. If you wish for Shakespeare-in-the-Schools to come to your school or community, please complete this form: Tour Request Form.

This is the first time that Othello will be taken on tour by the Festival. Director Cordell Cole, who has previously toured for Shakespeare in the Schools, strongly advocated for the play, specifically because of Othello’s message on the destruction that hate brings. 

“When hate seeps so far into our bones that we stop looking for the truth, danger follows,” Cole said. “It is a violent lesson, one told achingly, through language full of dirt, grit, and pace. At any moment in this tale, had hate been thrown aside just long enough to sit, express, and work through, things could have perhaps turned out differently.”

Cole believes it was lack of communication that tore Iago and Othello apart, as well as Othello and Desdomona. 

“It all spirals away from them; for seemingly nothing. And I believe that’s the point,” Cole said. Hate in communication’s stead seems to be our country’s truth, today, yesterday, and tomorrow if we do not address it.”

Shelley agrees that Othello is an “important show with an important message.” 

“It’s very timely for our society right now and a great opportunity for students to engage early on in important conversations about equity, diversity, and inclusion and what that means,” Shelley said. 

In addition to Cole as director, the team will consist of Technical Director April Salazar, Tour Manager Abby Naaken, and Stage Manager Lindy Rublaitus. The seven actors are Darrin Earl II, Ian Greers, Rachel Jones, Nazlah Black, Noah Ratgen, Nic Sanchez, and Shay Jowers.

The Festival will actually have two different touring productions on the road around the same time: Othello and Every Brilliant Thing, which is not part of Shakespeare in the Schools, but is funded by the state legislature. While the audiences are similar, the goals for each show are different.

Shakespeare in the Schools–this year, Othello–is designed for audiences to have a condensed yet complete theatrical experience, with lights, costume, and sound design. More information can be found at Every Brilliant Thing, however, is a much smaller production with only one actor that aims to reach students with important messages about mental health and hope. Information about this show can be found at

If you have any questions, contact the Utah Shakespeare Festival Education Department at 435-865-8333 or

Props Team Brings Holiday Cheer to Cedar City

Photo by Ben Hohman

By Liz Armstrong

Husband and wife duo Ben Hohman and Marielle Boneau have gone all out once again with their holiday display, bringing lots of light – literally — to Cedar City and its community.

This is the 18th year that Properties Director Hohman and Assistant Properties Director Boneau have decked out their house at 26 N 1150 W. The display lights up every night from 5:30-10 pm and will run until December 31st.

Including over 65,000 lights and over 40 inflatable decorations that are choreographed to dance with 20 Christmas songs, visitors can walk through Candy Cane Lane, taking in the light display in both the front and back yard. 

The display has raised over $28,000 for Make-A-Wish since they started. In addition to taking donations, the couple also donates the value of their December power bill to the organization. 

And lots of power is needed! An electrician installed an extra 120 amps of electricity in the back of the house just for the Christmas lights, which is four times the amount used inside. It’s safe to say that Hohman and Boneau love Christmas a whole “watt.” 

The idea to collect donations came about almost a decade ago. Hohman helps with the annual Make-a-Wish Christmas party and is a trained Wish Granter, so his involvement with the organization goes back a long time.

“We help decorate for the Christmas party each year, and we decorate the house as a fundraiser for the organization,” Hohman said. 

That first year, they were encouraged to become more involved with the organization after their friend Heather was impressed with their decorating, and so the couple started to collect donations at their light display

Boneau joked that because the display is for a good cause, it “legitimizes his Christmas craziness.” Call it “crazy,” we call it “passionate Christmas cheer!” Either way, the Utah Shakespeare Festival is proud that this Props team continues to go above and beyond with the display.

When asked why the couple continues to put in over 700 hours to put up and take down the display each year, Hohman and Boneau said they do it for the community. 

“The community has grown to love it,” Hohman said. “It’s become a tradition for a lot of families in town.”

Boneau added that they truly enjoy doing it, and seeing the reaction of community members makes it all worth it. 

“We have a back patio area that we call ‘Winter Disco Land,’” Hohman said. “And it’s so fun to see the little kids go back there and dance.” 

For those in the community that return each year, there are some exciting new additions. Their inflatable Mater, from the movie Cars, is now “selling,” Christmas trees in their front yard. A large toy soldier brigade now stands guard out front too! 

“Marielle found a gingerbread house for our two gingerbread inflatables to live in Gingerbread Land,” Hohman said. 

Boneau is also excited about the newest Snoopy additions, so keep an eye out! 

Come see the display, “lighten” up, and get in the Christmas spirit! We promise, it’s sure to be merry and “bright.” 

Donations can be made at the display or at their website. While on the site, check out video footage of the past 15 years of the display. Donations are also accepted directly on the Make-a-Wish website or Venmo @benslightdisplay.

Every Brilliant Thing to Tour Again 2023-2024

Every Brilliant Thing

By Liz Armstrong

CEDAR CITY, UT – Offered free by the Utah Shakespeare Festival to every public high school in the state of Utah, Every Brilliant Thing will tour once again. In 2019, the play swept the state with the “intention of cultivating the use of proactive, life-affirming communication when you or those you love are confronted with depression.” 

Director of Development and Communications Donn Jersey said Every Brilliant Thing is one of the most critical pieces of work the Festival has ever produced. 

“Every Brilliant Thing demonstrates why no darkness lasts forever; even then, there are stars,” Jersey said. “It reminds us of things hiding in plain sight that make life worth living that we don’t see when we are suffering.”

Starting this February, the show will tour across the state of Utah to bring the heartwarming and comforting message to secondary school students. To reach as many schools in Utah as possible, the tour will continue in spring 2024, as well. 

“This show is so relevant, and it’s the relevancy that heightens the importance,” Associate Education Director Stewart Shelley said. “This show opens up dialogue in a very positive manner and is a door that students who are experiencing anxiety, depression, or suicide ideation, can walk through to get the resources that they need.”

The one-person play tells the story of someone who learns that their mother is in the hospital after her first attempt to take her own life. The narrator then begins a list of every brilliant thing in the world worth living for: “ice cream, water fights, staying up past your bedtime and being allowed to watch TV, the color yellow, and things with stripes.” 

Filled with humor and inventiveness, the plot explores hope and depression, change and uncertainty, relationships, risk, guilt, and forgiveness. 

Directed by Cordell Cole, the traveling company will consist of just four members–Tour Manager Jordan Simmons, Stage Manager Kathryn Whilden, and actors Kat Lee and Jeremy Thompson. 

Interim Managing Director Michael Bahr noted that the first touring productions cured hearts, amplified voices, and saved lives. 

“Over the next two years we will be canvassing and performing across the state, bringing messages of hope and serving as partners to Utah schools,” Bahr said. “This production has been instrumental in cultivating consequential conversations about suicide and depression with students and their families.”

Simmons noted that the project has four goals, the first being to create an active dialogue between all stakeholders about emotional and mental well-being in regards to depression and suicide. 

“I hope students learn that they’re not weird, they’re not alone, that things get better, and that life goes on,” Simmons said. “We want every student to know that when they need help there is help available.” 

The team hopes to increase awareness of mental health resources available for students and find applicable ways to use these resources. The other goals are to provide an artistic experience that enables young people to see things from a new and positive perspective, and to inspire people to see the beauty in life. 

For Simmons, the show hits close to home, and why he is eager for as many students as possible to see Every Brilliant Thing. 

“Having experienced suicide ideation periodically in my own life, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I’ve been able to openly address it,” Simmons said. “I wish I would have experienced something like this when I was a teenager that would have allowed me to get help.”

Funded by the Utah State Legislature, the production is free to any secondary education school in Utah that is interested. The tour will begin February 13, 2023, and will run through the end of April. If you would like Every Brilliant Thing to come to your school or community, please complete this form: Tour Request Form.

For more information on the play, access the study guide here.

For questions, contact Simmons at 435-299-0567 or

2023 Is Just Around the Corner

Cyber Monday

By Liz Armstrong

Cedar City, UT— It’s not too early to plan for the 2023 season at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Cyber Monday, our biggest sale of the year is just around the corner and is the perfect opportunity to purchase tickets. 

 Take advantage of the deal and receive $10 off every ticket by visiting or by calling the Festival ticket office. The sale will go live at midnight and is only available on Monday, November 28. 

“Our 2023 season is full of beloved classics and bold stories—most of them new to Festival audiences,” said Derek Charles Livingston, interim artistic director. “It is a line-up perfect for theatre lovers, a must-see collection of great work.”

Here’s the 2023 lineup:

In the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
June 22 - September 9
By William Shakespeare

This luxurious tale of fairies, dreams, and moonlight is Shakespeare’s most popular comedy. “The course of true love never did run smooth,” but, when the feuding king and queen of the fairies interfere in the mercurial romances of mortals, the result is pure pandemonium and magical mayhem, spotlighting the roguish Puck, bumbling would-be actors, impish fairies, and young lovers. 

West Side Story
June 21 - September 8
Based on a Conception of Jerome Robbins
Book by Arthur Laurents
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Tony, a leader in the Jets, a gang of white working-class youths, and Maria, sister of the leader of the Puerto Rican American Sharks, are in love—defying the gang tensions and ignoring racial differences. But, just as in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, a feuding rivalry threatens to keep the lovers apart. West Side Story is a musical masterpiece that is just as relevant and provocative as when it premiered in 1957 and changed American musical theatre forever.

In the Randall L. Jones Theatre

Jane Austen’s Emma
June 22 - October 7
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Paul Gordon
Orchestrations by Brad Haak, Paul Gordon, and Brian Allan Hobbs
Based on the Novel by Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s enduring love story is given new life as a romantic musical. Revisit with new wonder one of Austen’s most adored heroines, a well-meaning but bungling matchmaker who ignores her own desires for love while setting out to find a suitor for her friend Harriet. Sweet, intelligent, and buoyant, this musical will make you fall in love all over again.

A Raisin in the Sun
June 23 - September 8
By Lorraine Hansberry 

In 1959 playwright Lorraine Hansberry created a theatrical masterpiece that broke down racial barriers both on and off the stage. A Raisin in the Sun follows the proud Younger family members as they grapple with different definitions of the American dream and how to achieve it, while battling racial discrimination and financial pitfalls that threaten to pull the family apart and push their dreams out of reach.

The Play That Goes Wrong
June 30 - October 7
By Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields

Welcome to the opening night of the Cornley Drama Society’s newest production, The Murder at Haversham Manor, where things are quickly going from bad to utterly disastrous. The ill-fated play-within-a-play has everything never wanted in a show—an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines). Nevertheless, the accident-prone thespians battle against all odds to make it through to their final curtain call, with hilarious consequences!

In the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre

Timon of Athens
July 14 - October 7
By William Shakespeare

Timon’s compulsive generosity makes him the most popular man in Athens. The people flatter and praise him, all the while accepting his gifts. Timon is everyone’s best friend—until his wealth is suddenly gone. Destitute and disillusioned with so-called friends who have abandoned him, he turns his back on the world. A play for our times, Timon of Athens is hilarious, satiric, and deeply moving as it explores friendship, wealth, and the foibles of a materialistic society. 

July 15 - October 7
By William Shakespeare

An arrogant, proud and hot-headed military hero, Coriolanus is seduced by the notion of becoming Rome’s ruler, but he must go among the “commoners” he disdains to win their votes.  His loathing becomes public, and the people drive this skilled general from Rome and into allegiance with a sworn enemy. Coriolanus now threatens to attack those whom he sought to rule. This rarely produced play’s themes of ambition, love, family, and power will crackle in our intimate Anes Theatre. 

Once again, visit or call to get $10 off per ticket while the sale lasts! Please note that the sale cannot be combined with other discounts and it is only available on Monday, November 28.

With additional questions or to purchase tickets over the phone, call 800-PLAYTIX. The ticket office is open from 10 am-5 pm Monday through Friday. 

Check out showtimes and dates at