News From the Festival

What Do You Know about Clue, the Game?

An early version of the board game.

By Liz Armstrong

Before it was a movie or a play, Clue was, of course, a wildly popular board game which has been played around the world. So, before you see the play this summer at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, let’s see what you know about this game of murder and intrigue.

1—The board game, invented by Anthony Pratt and his wife Elva (who designed the original artwork for the board), was originally named “Murder.” Later it was changed to “Cluedo,” and is most popularly known in North America as just “Clue.”  

2—“Cluedo” is a combination of the words “clue” and “ludo.” “Ludo” is Latin for the word “play.” 

3—The Clue we know and love today contains six characters, six weapons, and nine rooms. But the original was much more complicated than this, boasting ten characters, nine weapons, and eleven rooms. Yeah, we’re glad it was simplified too. 

4—The weapons used in the game we play today (and in the play) are the candlestick, dagger, revolver, lead pipe, wrench, and the rope. Pratt’s original weapons, however contained an axe, bomb, syringe, poison, and others. 

5—The characters weren’t always the same either. The ten characters in the original patent application were Doctor Black, Mr. Brown, Mr. Gold, the Reverend Mister Green, Miss Grey, Professor Plum, Miss Scarlett, Nurse White, Mrs. Silver, and Colonel Yellow. 

6—Invented during World War II, the idea for the game may possibly be attributed to the wildly popular Agatha Christie novels, which sparked the mystery parties Pratt often attended during his career of playing piano for hotels and cruise ships. 

7—Pratt and his wife developed the board game during World War II. While waiting out the air raids their home in Birmingham, England, they played Clue. They were granted a patent in 1947, which they sold to United Kingdom games manufacturer Waddington’s. 

8— Pratt didn’t profit much from the game. In the 1960s, his patent on the game lapsed and he stopped receiving royalty payments. He received no royalties on U.S. or international versions of the game, choosing instead to sign over those rights in 1953 for 5000 pounds (then about $14,000).

9—The standard Clue has 324 possible outcomes, which may contribute to its ongoing popularity. With so many different end results, how could you ever get bored?

10—The board game has been adapted into plays, films, musicals, game shows, competitions, video games, books, and more. Check out the article “The Evolution of Clue: From Board Game to Play” for more information. 

The 2022 season of the Utah Shakespeare Festival runs from June 20 to October 8 and includes All’s Well That Ends Well, Sweeney Todd, King Lear, The Sound of Music, Trouble in Mind, Clue, The Tempest, and Thurgood, as well as all the experiences surrounding the plays, such as The Greenshow, seminars, orientations, and Repertory Magic. Tickets and information are available by calling 800-PLAYTIX or going online to bard.org/plays.

The Journey from Board Game to Play

Aaron Galligan-Stierle (left) as Wadsworth, Bailey Blaise as Yvette, and Melinda Parrett as Mrs. White in the Festival’s production of Clue.

By Liz Armstrong 

Originally a board game invented by Anthony E. Pratt, Clue has had quite the journey. As a board game itgained popularity around 1954, and in 2019 it was adapted into the play that graces the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s stage this summer. In between, it has been a film, a book, a video game, a game show, and a musical. Clue has had quite the journey, so let’s dive in and follow along: 

1944: The Board Game 

Developed during World War II by Pratt and his wife Elva as a way to wait out the air raids that were occurring in England, the couple received a patent for the game in 1947. 

1985: The Feature Film

This may be the most popular adaptation of the game. The film featured Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, and Eileen Brennan. The film actually lost money in its production, costing $15 million to make and earning $14.6 million at the box office. However, it is still considered a comedy classic, with a cult-like following spawning annual family traditions and watch parties where friends gather to cheer on their favorite character. In fact, some fans say it is the “best film of all time.” 

1985: The Book

Paramount Pictures commissioned a hardcover storybook, a kid’s collectible written by John Landis, Ann Matthews, and Jonathan Lynn. An actual novel was written by Michael McDowell as well.

1985-2009: The Video Game

In 1895, the original video game of Clue was released as a VCR mystery game. Other video game versions followed in 1992, 1998, 1999, 2008, and 2009. 

1990: The British Game Show

The board game was adapted into a game show that ran for four seasons. Two teams of celebrities would watch as guest performers related clues in character. Some of these guest performers included David McCallum, Tom Baker, and Joanna Lumley. Alongside the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Portugal, and Sweden all had their versions of a television series, although the United States never did hop onboard.

1993: The World Championship Event 

Peter DePietro and Tom Chiodo promoted a Clue world championship event in New York City. This event was part competition and part performance art. Participants dressed up as Clue characters and played the game. The winner received a trip to Hollywood.

1995: The Musical 

This musical stage version opened in 1995 in Baltimore, directed by Peter DePietro. It focused on some of the relationships that “lead to the nightly murder of Mr. Boddy.” In this musical, audience members were invited to pick three cards that identified the murderer, weapon, and location, just like the board game.  

1997 and 2022: The Play Off-Broadway 

Opening at the Players Theater in 1997, the off-Broadway performance closed after 29 performances and 17 previews. It was directed once again by DePietro. This past January, Clue opened off-Broadway again at The Paper Mill Playhouse. 

2022: Clue at the Utah Shakespeare Festiva

This is Director Hunter Foster’s first time at the Festival who also has a writing credit on the play. In regards to the production, Foster says that the play is “a funny, entertaining evening and a real ensemble piece with great characters and a cast that is onstage together almost the whole time.” 


The 2022 season of the Utah Shakespeare Festival runs from June 20 to October 8 and includes, in addition to Clue, All’s Well That Ends Well, Sweeney Todd, King Lear, The Sound of Music, Trouble in Mind, The Tempest, and Thurgood, as well as all the experiences surrounding the plays, such as The Greenshow, seminars, orientations, and Repertory Magic. Tickets and information are available by calling 800-PLAYTIX or going online to bard.org/plays.

Clue: About the Playwrights

Playwright Sandy Rustin

By Don Leavitt

Believe it or not, the 1985 movie version of Clue is not the first theatrical adaptation of the classic Hasbro board game. Dare I claim that this distinction belongs to Riverview Junior High School in Murray, Utah? It was the winter of 1983. Our school had no drama program, so one of our English teachers got permission to hold an after-school club, “all eighth and ninth grade students welcome,” and once a week we met to engage in a series of acting and improv games. We weren’t a huge group, but we had fun, and the club was a safe place to just be.

We quickly discovered, however, that there are only so many times you can play theatre games like Park Bench and One-Word Story. By February, we were bored stiff of the same old games, and we begged our faculty advisor for something new. The following week, she obliged us.

“We’re going to act out the board game Clue,” she announced. She had written up a skeleton plot and added several characters to give everyone in the club a chance to play someone. In addition to the six main characters of the game, we also had a butler, a chauffeur, a police detective, and “significant others” for several of the main characters. Girls outnumbered boys in the club by nearly three to one, so all the character names were put in a bowl for us to draw out, and the only caveat was that we had to play whomever we drew, no trading and no complaining. This meant that boys might be playing a woman and girls might be playing a man. I played a hell of a good Miss Scarlett. Other than that, I really don’t remember much about our version, except that it was incredibly clumsy, and I’m pretty sure we never figured out which one of us was supposed to be the killer; but we laughed a lot and at the very least, preceded the film adaptation by about two years. Never underestimate the power of bragging rights.

I don’t honestly believe ours was the first attempt to act out Clue. It’s quite possible that some other theatre group somewhere had the same idea. It’s even conceivable that somewhere, sometime, someone hosted a Clue-themed party to much the same effect. It’s the mere fact that anyone, anywhere has ever dreamed of dramatizing a board game that is most fascinating. Of course, unlike most board games, Clue lends itself to playacting—can you imagine sitting through a three-hour musical production of Monopoly? —with its story-like, character-driven mystery and interactive gameplay.

Any discussion of bringing Clue to the stage must begin with the origins of the game and the ironic fact that the board game itself was inspired by actor-driven murder mystery parties of the 1920s and 1930s. The game was invented by Anthony E. Pratt, a British musician who, prior to the Second World War, made a career of playing piano for hotels and cruise ships. His idea, inspired by the popularity of Agatha Christie’s novels (particularly And Then There Were None), was sparked by the mystery parties he attended as a musician at country hotels, where part of the entertainment included mystery games involving actors and hotel guests playing characters trying to solve a murder.

The game he came up with proved to be wildly popular, so perhaps a film adaptation was inevitable. In 1985, filmmaker John Landis worked with producer Debra Hill and director Jonathan Lynn to develop the story; Landis created the film’s multiple ending concept and Lynn completed the script, giving him the sole writing credit. 

Jonathan Lynn is an English stage and film actor, writer, director and producer. Born in Bath, Somerset, he studied law at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he participated in the Cambridge University Footlights Club revue, Cambridge Circus. His first West End stage appearance came in 1965, and from then on, he wrote and appeared in a number of British television sitcoms. His first screenplay credit was for 1974’s The Internecine Project, followed by the British classics Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. As a director, Lynn is best known for Clue, My Cousin Vinny (1992), and The Fighting Temptations (2003).

Although not critically or financially successful, Clue garnered an almost cult-like fan following that spawned everything from books to game shows in Australia and the UK; a five-part television miniseries that ran on American cable channel The Hub in November 2011; and stage productions that include a musical comedy that ran off-Broadway from 1997 to 1999, and a play version by Robert Duncan in cooperation with Waddingtons that debuted in 1985 and toured the UK until 1990.

The current version being produced this year at the Utah Shakespeare Festival “based on the screenplay by Jonathan Lynn. Written by Sandy Rustin. Additional material by Hunter Foster and Eric Price” (taken from the script cover). It is unclear how much or exactly what additional content Foster, Price and Rustin contributed, but according to www.playscripts.com, the ultimate credit belongs to Rustin.

Sandy Rustin is an actress who has appeared on Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Shumer and in numerous stage and improv shows. As a playwright, she created the musical adaptation of the 1988 MGM film Mystic Pizza, and has won awards for her plays Houston and Rated P for Parenthood. According to her website, Sandyrustin.com, the play broke box office records during its regional premiere and was named the “most produced play” of 2020. An accomplished voiceover actress, Rustin is the founding co-artistic director of Midtown Rep and is an advocate for the Cowden Foundation, a non-profit that raises funds for leukemia research.

Eric Price is a prolific writer, lyricist, director, and producer, best known for the Apple TV+ animated series Central Park. In addition to his contributions to Clue, Price has also written the lyrics and book for *The Violet Hour, Radioactive,*and his musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, among others. Price was the long-time assistant to director/producer Hal Prince and currently serves as an adjunct professor of musical theatre at Pace University. He is the co-founder of This MT Space (www.thismtspace.com), an online musical theatre education platform.

Hunter Foster is an American musical theatre actor, singer, librettist, playwright, and director. In addition to his contributions to Clue, Foster is best known for his award-winning performance as Bobby Strong in Urinetown and his Tony-nominated performance in 2003’s Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors. Younger audiences may recognize him for his portrayal of Scotty on the ABC Family (now Freeform) show Bunheads (2012–2013), where he acted alongside his real-life sister, actress Sutton Foster. Not only does he have a writing credit on Clue, Foster also had the honor to direct its world premiere at New Hope, Pennsylvania’s Bucks County Playhouse in 2017 and is directing it this summer for the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

No matter what form it takes, Clue is an icon of not just American but global pop culture. As one reviewer of Cluenoted, “Yes, it’s a play based on the classic board game. . . but more directly, it’s based on the 1985 movie version . . . that’s become a TV staple over the years and has developed a cult following. . . . The stage version is even sillier and cornier than the movie. . . . [It] isn’t a perfect murder comedy, but it’s got a dizzy, stimulating joy that makes it a whole lot of fun. It’s a game that’s definitely worth playing” (Tim Dunleavy, “Review: ‘Clue: On Stage’ at Bucks County Playhouse,” May 10, 2017; https://dcmetrotheaterarts.com/2017/05/10/review-clue-stage-bucks-county-playhouse/).

The 2022 season of the Utah Shakespeare Festival runs from June 20 to October 8 and includes All’s Well That Ends Well, Sweeney Todd, King Lear, The Sound of Music, Trouble in Mind, Clue, The Tempest, and Thurgood, as well as all the experiences surrounding the plays, such as The Greenshow, seminars, orientations, and Repertory Magic. Tickets and information are available by calling 800-PLAYTIX or going online to bard.org/plays.

Festival Names Interim Artistic Director

Derek Charles Livingston

Derek Charles Livingston has been named as the interim artistic director at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. He will fill that role while a nationwide search is completed to hire a new artistic director to replace Brian Vaughn, who stepped down May 25.

Livingston has worked at the Festival since March of 2021 when he was hired as director of new play development/artistic associate. He says he is both excited and humbled to step into this new position: “It was never in my imaginings when I applied to work here, nor when I was hired, nor even a month ago, that I would be asked to step up and serve the Utah Shakespeare Festival as its interim artistic director,” he said. “But having been asked, I accept it with humility and honor.” 

“I welcome Derek to the role of interim artistic director,” added Executive Producer Frank Mack, “and I am eager to see the work he’ll do while the Festival searches for a permanent artistic director.”

Prior to coming to the Festival, Livingston was primarily a theatre director, producer, and new play developer. He served for over four years as the managing artistic director of Los Angeles’s Celebration Theatre (the country’s second oldest, continuously operating LGBT-focused theatre). During that time and after, he produced and/or directed several acclaimed plays and musicals; those productions received over fifty Los Angeles theatre awards or nominations (including acknowledgements for Livingston’s directing work on five productions). Later he lived in San Diego where he produced or co-produced a host of new play festivals, helping give life to over forty new plays. For San Diego’s Diversionary Theatre, he directed the award-nominated San Diego premiere of Tru, depicting the life of Truman Capote.

In addition to his new duties, he will also be performing in the one-man play Thurgood which opens September 14 at the Festival.

“Any success that happens during this interim tenure will be because of our great staff, so many of whom have given decades—literally decades—to serving this organization and producing great theatre here,” said Livingston. “I would not agree to serve if I didn’t have utter confidence and faith in them and in their abilities, and I cannot serve without their support, guidance, feedback, and critical observations.” 

The 2022 season of the Utah Shakespeare Festival runs from June 20 to October 8 and includes All’s Well That Ends Well, Sweeney Todd, King Lear, The Sound of Music, Trouble in Mind, Clue, The Tempest, and Thurgood, as well as all the experiences surrounding the plays, such as The Greenshow, seminars, orientations, and Repertory Magic. Tickets and information are available by calling 800-PLAYTIX or going online to bard.org.

Jean Valjean Is Back!

J. Michael Bailey as himself and as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, 2012.

Jean Valjean is back!

J. Michael Bailey, who played Jean Valjean in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s production of Les Misérables in 2012, is returning this summer to play the equally powerful role of Sweeney in the Stephen Sondheim musical Sweeney Todd.

“I am excited to welcome J. Michael Bailey back to the Festival,” said Executive Producer Frank Mack. “He is a great Utah-based performer and I am thrilled our audiences will get to see his great artistry on the Festival stage again.” 

“I am absolutely thrilled to be back at the Festival!” Bailey said. “It is my favorite place on the planet to perform—the outside venue, the talented acting company and artistic teams—I just can’t get enough of it.”

Besides his critically-acclaimed role as Valjean in Les Misérables, he has appeared at the Festival in Hamlet, Macbeth, The Secret Garden, Foxfire, and Great Expectations. He has also appeared at numerous other theatres throughout the United States and Canada, including Pioneer Theatre Company, Encore South Bay, Sundance Theatre, Salt Lake Acting Company, Encore Musical Theatre Company, West Valley Arts, Utah Musical Theatre, and Tuacahn Amphitheatre. He is also a singer-songwriter with three studio albums and the original cast recording for White Chapel the Musical as Jack the Ripper.

“I am very grateful to be here and for the trust Frank and the rest of the administrative and directing team have put in me,” said Bailey. “Sweeney is a bear of a show but the Festival production is going to be something else. The talent is huge! I am so blessed to be back here performing a role I love with people I love even more.”

The 2022 season of the Utah Shakespeare Festival runs from June 20 to October 8 and includes All’s Well That Ends Well, Sweeney Todd, King Lear, The Sound of Music, Trouble in Mind, Clue, The Tempest, and Thurgood, as well as all the experiences surrounding the plays, such as The Greenshow, seminars, orientations, and Repertory Magic. Tickets and information are available by calling 800-PLAYTIX or going online to bard.org.

10 Things You May Not Know about Trouble in Mind

Artwork by Cully Long.

By Liz Armstrong 

Originally written in 1955, Trouble in Mind only started to gain traction after the extremely talented playwright Alice Childress passed away. Well-written and powerful, this play tackles difficult subject matter in a deft and humorous way and is sweeping the nation with growing popularity. Here are some things you may not know about Trouble in Mind and Childress herself. 

1–The play was supposed to move to Broadway in 1957, but producers told the playwright they would only do so if she changed the ending of the play. Childress refused, and it didn’t go on Broadway. Variety wrote, “Childress refused to bow to the demands of producers who urged her to ‘tone down’ the play’s powerful conclusion. It’s a good thing she didn’t.”

2–It recently received its Broadway debut after a sixty-five-year wait, premiering in November of last year at the Roundabout Theatre. 

3–The playwright, Childress, was raised by her grandmother in Harlem, New York, who encouraged her to write. It’s a good thing she did, too, as Childress later became a pioneering black actress, playwright, and novelist. 

4–Childress was a fan of Shakespeare, too! After hearing Shakespeare being read, she began acting and directing in 1941 at the American Negro Theatre. 

5–Childress never finished high school, but that didn’t compromise her talent for writing. A Hero Ain’t Nothin but a Sandwich was named one of the Outstanding Books of the Year by New York Times Book Review. It also received the Lewis Carroll Shelf award, ALA Best Young Adult Book of 1975, and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Honor.

6–A Hero Ain’t Nothing but a Sandwhich reached the Supreme Court in a book banning case, one of nine to do so. The book was banned in several school libraries, but was then reinstated in all but one by court order in 1984.

7–She received a Tony Award acting nomination in 1944 for her role in Anna Lucasta.

8–Childress was the first woman to win the Obie Award, which she received in 1956 for the best original off-Broadway play. 

9–Her other famous play, Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White, was also supposed to be staged on Broadway, but because it stirred up so much controversy, it never was. In 1972, it was produced at the New York Public Theatre and it was televised on ABC. 

10–High praise is being given for this play, with The New York Times calling it “the play of the moment.” It has also been chosen as a New York Times Critic’s Pick.

Meet Playwright Alice Childress

Playwright Alice Childress

By Rachelle Hughes

“I continue to create because writing is a labor of love and also an act of defiance, a way to light a candle in a gale wind.”

—Alice Childress

Born in 1916 in South Carolina, Alice Childress, born Alice Herndon, moved to Harlem at age nine to live with her grandmother after the separation of her parents. Her grandmother Eliza Campbell White raised her and encouraged her to write and pursue the arts. Despite dropping out of high school after two years, Childress pursued an education in the theatre. Like most New York actresses, she started by working low paying jobs in Harlem while getting her foot in the acting door. She eventually furthered her education and her theatre skill set by joining the American Negro Theatre where she worked as an actress, stage manager, personnel director, and costume designer for eleven years. In the 1930s she married and divorced Alvin Childress. They have one daughter, Jean Childress. Later, she married musician Nathan Woodard whom she eventually collaborated with on some musicals later in her career. The reality of Alice Childress’s childhood, her family history, and her experience seeped into her plays, giving her authentic insight into the black culture and experience. 

Long before Childress became known for her unapologetic and authentic plays on black lives, she was a talented actress. Her acting credits included Natural Man (1941), Rain (1948), and The Emperor’s Clothes (1953). Her role in Anna Lucasta (1944) reportedly earned Childress a Tony Award nomination; however, there is some debate as to the accuracy of this claim that has been made in some of her biographies. In 1949, she began her playwriting career with the one act play, Florence. She also starred in her first play that explored the themes that would become the hallmark of her own plays: interracial politics, working-class life, attacks on black stereotypes, and empowerment of black women. 

“She has been credited with many ‘firsts’” as Helen Shaw says in her 2020 essay for online magazine Vulture (“Alice Childress Didn’t Defang Her Plays, and Producers Said No,” <https://www.vulture.com/ 2020/01/ alice-childress-trouble-in-mind.html>, January 8, 2020). She became the first black woman playwright to have an all Equity cast with her play Gold through the Trees (1952), and this play along with Just a Little Simple (1950) helped bring her accolades as the first professionally produced black female playwright. When Childress’s first full-length, dramatic play, Trouble in Mind (1955) about racism in the theatre world was produced at Stella Holt’s Greenwich Mews Theatre, it brought her yet another first as the first black female playwright to be awarded an Obie Award. The comic drama Trouble in Mind ran for ninety-one shows initially but never made its way to Broadway in her lifetime despite predictions that it would. Producers wanted her to make changes that Childress was unwilling to make. 

Of all of her plays, Trouble in Mind has seen the most attention on today’s stages. The 2022 Utah Shakespeare Festival is the latest regional theatre to take on Childress’s Trouble in Mind and itsheroine Willetta’s fight to overcome black stereotypes and racism in the theatre. However, it wasn’t always so. The play was written in 1955 and was optioned for Broadway but never opened there because Childress would not tone down the dialogue for the show’s white producers. The action around the play is eerily analogous to the play itself, where the white director in Trouble in Mind says: “The American public is not ready to see you the way you want to be seen because, one, they don’t believe it, two, they don’t want to believe it, and three, they’re convinced they’re superior.” 

Unafraid of taking on the controversial topics of her time Childress’s next dramatic play Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White, which dealt with interracial relationships, was a fight for Childress to get to the stage. As theatre critic Tony Adler wrote, “Written in 1962 but unseen onstage until 1966 because, the story goes, Broadway theaters were afraid to touch it (the premiere finally took place at the University of Michigan)” (“Who’s Alice Childress? We Should All Know,” Chicago Reader, https://chicagoreader.com/ arts-culture/ whos-alice-childress-we-should-all-know, 2017). By the end of her career Childress had written thirteen plays including some musicals in conjunction with her composer-husband Woodard. Together they collaborated on Young Martin Luther King (1968) and Sea Island Song (1977). As Shaw (2020) said, “Any list of great American playwrights is incomplete without Alice Childress—her cool eye saw deep into history, into the theater, into blackness, into whiteness.”

Childress also became known for her young adult novels including Those Other People (1989) and A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich (1973). The latter had the most literary traction and she later adapted it as a screenplay in 1978 starring Cicely Tyson and Paul Winfield. Never one to shy away from difficult topics, A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich dealt with the social issues of racism, drug use, teen pregnancy, and homosexuality (M. Granshaw, “Alice Childress (1916–1994),”Blackpast.Org, https://www.blackpast.org/ african-american-history/ childress-alice-1916-1994/, January 31, 2019). After it was released some school districts and libraries banned the book. Just seven years later her novel A Short Walk was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. 

Her words and work have been called savage, poetic, honest, and risky. She was not afraid to speak her mind and tell the stories she saw. Sometimes it brought her dazzling success even if it never brought her plays to a Broadway hit. She garnered many awards in her time for her incessant and passionate work, including a Rockefeller grant, a graduate medal from the Radcliffe Institute for Independent Study, the Radcliffe Alumnae Graduate Society Medal for Distinguished Achievement, a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award and a Lifetime Career Achievement Award from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE).

She died from cancer at 77 years old in 1994. At the time of her death she was working on a piece that was true to her themes, as always: a story about her African great-grandmother, who had been a slave, and her Scotch-Irish great-grandmother.

Trouble in Mind Finally Gets Its Due

Director Melissa Maxwell (left) and Director of New Play Development/ Artistic Associate Derek Charles Livingston.

By Liz Armstrong

More than sixty-five years after it first premiered, Alice Childress’s poignant and powerful play Trouble in Mind is finally getting the praise and attention it deserves, hitting Broadway in November and since then being produced in numerous theatres—including the Utah Shakespeare Festival this summer. 

The play tackles sexism and racism in American theatre, and it was originally scheduled to move to Broadway in 1957. However, producers insisted Childress change the ending, and she refused. Childress’s refusal cost the playwright the chance to see her work on Broadway in her lifetime, but the play and her action both portray a mighty message about being true to oneself. 

Melissa Maxwell will have her debut at the Festival directing Trouble in Mind. An award-winning playwright who has been directing for over twenty years, Maxwell has directed world premieres such as Tunnel Vision and Safe House, and she is proud Childress didn’t give in to the producers so many years ago.

“She is finally getting her due,” Maxwell said. “It would’ve been great had she been able to see her works on Broadway in her lifetime; but it wouldn’t have been the same story, and it wouldn’t have been true to her voice, and I don’t know that it would’ve been true to the history of the moment of what she was trying to capture.”

Now, well over fifty years later, Trouble in Mind is garnering high praise. “Hauntingly timely” and “intellectually curious,” said The Hollywood Reporter. 

The New York Times called Trouble in Mind “the play of the moment.” Time Out wrote, “it’s as though an old curtain has been lifted from a mirror.” The New York Theatre Guide added, “Though the play was written in 1955, it pulsates with such vitality that it feels like it was written yesterday, showing the audience that while some things have changed in sixty-six years, others have stayed maddeningly the same.”

Maxwell voiced a similar sentiment.

“Things are slowly just now starting to change,” she said. “I’m hoping that people recognize the constructs that we’ve been put into that we’re all complicit in, the ways in which we add to those.”

“I’ve learned there are no victims and villains,” Maxwell said. “But I do think that each one of us is responsible for the relationships we have and maintain in our lives.” 

Festival Director of New Play Development Derek Charles Livingston addressed why it’s especially important and exciting that the Festival produce this play this season. 

The Festival has “committed to the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in everything we do,” Livingston noted, adding that producing this play is a part of that commitment. “People have this misconception that when you start talking about race in America that it always has to be through this lense of tragedy and trauma, and Trouble in Mind does have that at its core . . . but people should realize the play’s not going to be a slog through trauma and accusations, but that it will be entertaining,” Livingston said. 

Livingston and Maxwell both said that this a not-so-well-known classic that should be better known. It’s a layered play—Maxwell compared it to an onion—that addresses important issues with humor and grace.

“To any good storytelling, humor is what opens the door that allows people to accept the message, so any good comedy has heart, and good tragedy has humor,” Maxwell said. “What Alice Childress does beautifully is address a very serious, important message in a way that we can all enjoy. She makes it palatable for us to be reflective and hopefully opens the door for us to have those long overdue conversations,”

Livingston believes patrons will very much enjoy this play and that it will speak to them intellectually but also in terms with humor. “There’s a nuanced debate on a number of issues, and the play handles it in a way that is befitting of a Shakespearean audience,” Livingston said. “For our audiences particularly, they don’t just like Shakespeare, they enjoy good theatre.”

The 2022 season of the Utah Shakespeare Festival runs from June 20 to October 8 and includes All’s Well That Ends Well, Sweeney Todd, King Lear, The Sound of Music, Trouble in Mind, Clue, The Tempest, and Thurgood, as well as all the experiences surrounding the plays, such as The Greenshow, seminars, orientations, and backstage tours. Tickets and information are available by calling 800-PLAYTIX or going online to bard.org.

Make Your Own Meat Pie

Sweeney Todd artwork by Cully Long.

By Liz Armstrong 

“Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies, savory and sweet pies.” Ah, Mrs. Lovett, that entrepreneurial baker, serving up London’s most popular meat pies, thanks to the secret ingredient provided by Sweeney Todd’s upstairs barber shop.

After watching Sweeney Todd this summer at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, that wild and revenge-filled play may leave you in the mood for meat pies. Okay . . . well, maybe not. But, just in case you would like a tasty meat pie (without the murderous ingredient), here is a recipe from the Utah Shakespeare Festival that just might fill you craving:

Ingredients

— 1 medium potato (peeled and cubed)

— ½ pound ground beef

— ½ pound ground pork

— ⅓ clove garlic (chopped)

— ½ cup onion (chopped) 

— ¼ cup water 

— ½ teaspoon mustard powder

— ½ teaspoon dried thyme 

— ½ teaspoon ground cloves

— 1 teaspoon salt 

— ¼ teaspoon dried sage

— 1 package refrigerated pie crusts (15 ounces)

Directions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the potato in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, cook until tender (about 5 minutes). Drain, mash, and set aside. 

Step 2: Crumble the ground beef and pork into a large saucepan and add the garlic, onion, and water. Season with the remaining spices. Brown over medium heat, stirring to mix in spices and crumble the meat. Remove from heat and mix in potato. 

Step 3: Place one of the pie crusts into a 9-inch pie plate. Fill with meat mixture, then top with the other pie crust. Pierce the top of the crust a few times with a knife to vent steam. Crimp around the edges with a fork, and remove any excess dough. Cover the edges of the pie crust with aluminum foil. 

Step 4: Bake for 25 minutes or until the crust is browned. 

And there you have it! A delicious meat pie, just like Mrs. Lovett’s, sans Sweeney Todd’s victims.

New Director Promises "Joyous" Greenshow

Cassie Abate

By Liz Armstrong 

Last year, Utah Shakespeare Festival patrons enjoyed a fabulous production of The Pirates of Penzance, with a colorful and buzzing energy that entranced audiences throughout the play. This season, patrons can expect the same at The Greenshow. “It’s going to be joyous, fun, and nonstop,” director Cassie Abate said. 

And Abate should know. She directed that acclaimed production of The Pirates of Penzance and this year is writing, directing, and choreographing The Greenshow, the Festival’s free pre-play entertainment.

Abate said that directing The Pirates of Penzance last year prepared her for directing The Greenshow this year. “Being at the Festival last year, I really got a sense about the traditions, and experiencing what the Festival is all about was awesome,” she said. “I’m so excited to be back.”

Directing The Greenshow will have its challenges, but this vivacious director is up for the task. “The Greenshow has been a fun learning experience for me because I’ve never fully written a show before,” she said. “So taking an [idea] all the way through has been a really fun, interesting, dynamic experience.”

Abate is also extremely excited about how collaborative the process of putting together The Greenshow has been. “What’s so great about this kind of production is because it’s new, the cast gets to be a collaborative part of it,” Abate said. “So things shift and change and adapt more so than when you have a set show that you are producing.”

“It’s a lot less predictable than when you’re inside a theater,” she said in discussing the outdoor space on the green. “I’m looking forward to experiencing how we fill that space and how we utilize it to its full potential so that we don’t just make it an entertainment, but an immersive experience for the audience—where they’re interacting with the performance.”

Abate plans to honor the traditions of the Festival and The Greenshow while adding fun and new elements. Jokingly, she promised to mention the Festival-famous tarts in each show. 

Patrons can also expect an extremely fun soundtrack. Abate hinted that in addition to pulling from the musical theatre canon, the company will also be using more popular songs from the ’40s to the ’60s. 

Because The Greenshow is presented every night before the plays, Abate’s biggest goal is to make sure it complements the shows being performed, as well as making sure each of the three versions of The Greenshow can stand alone as a fun and family-friendly entertainment. The Last Time I Saw Paris will play before All’s Well That Ends Well; British Music Hall before Sweeney Todd; and Coronation Day before King Lear. Abate promises each one is unique in its own way.

The 2022 season of the Utah Shakespeare Festival runs from June 20 to October 8 and includes All’s Well That Ends Well, Sweeney Todd, King Lear, The Sound of Music, Trouble in Mind, Clue, The Tempest, and Thurgood, as well as all the experiences surrounding the plays, such as The Greenshow, seminars, orientations, and backstage tours. Tickets and information are available by calling 800-PLAYTIX or going online to bard.org.