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Festival Bids Farewell to Adams Theatre and Shines a Spotlight to the Future

Utah Shakespeare Festival Founder Fred C. Adams prepares to blow out the last candle representing the Adams Shakespearean Theatre.
The Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, under construction, will be the new home of the Utah Shakespeare Festival in 2016.

Utah Shakespeare Festival Founder Fred C. Adams prepares to blow out the last candle representing the Adams Shakespearean Theatre.

CEDAR CITY, UT (Sept. 7, 2015) — The Utah Shakespeare Festival dimmed the lights in the Adams Shakespearean Theatre for the final time Saturday night and lit a new light in the under-construction Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre. It was end of an era and definitely the beginning of another.

The celebration of the Adams Theatre, which was completed in 1977 and is now suffering from the effects of weather and age, actually began Thursday night at the final performance of the 2015 production of The Taming of the Shrew. Afterward, R. Scott Phillips, Festival managing director, and Founder Fred C. Adams paid tribute to Grace and Obert C. Tanner who provided substantial funding to build the theatre, which was named after Mrs. Tanner’s parents: Thomas and Luella R. Adams. Then, the actors from that evening’s performance took the stage and recited lines from each of the comedies produced in the Adams Theatre in the past 38 years, blowing out a candle to represent the dimming of the lights in the old theatre.

The Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, under construction, will be the new home of the Utah Shakespeare Festival in 2016.

Friday night was much the same with Phillips and Artistic Director David Ivers honoring the late Douglas N. Cook, who provided the original sketches for the theatre and was later producing artistic director for many years. This was followed by the actors from King Lear reciting lines from the tragedies which have graced the iconic stage and again blowing out candles until the stage was dark.

But it was Saturday night when the torch was passed. Phillips honored the architect who designed the theatre at no charge, Max Anderson; and Artistic Director Brian Vaughn paid tribute to the theatre which has long been one of the world’s most authentic Elizabeth theatres, Shakespeare’s “wooden O,” followed by the actors from Henry IV Part Two reciting lines from all the histories from the Adams Theater’s past.

This time, one candle was not blown out but was handed to Festival Founder Fred C. Adams to lovingly carry across the street to the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, part of the new Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts which will be completed in time for the 2016 Festival season. The evening’s playgoers and guests followed him to the construction site, where the new building was bathed in light. Then, as Philips invited them to “share with us your lights as we illuminate this new performance space,” a spotlight shone straight up into the night sky from what will be the new stage in July 2016, symbolic of a bright future for a new theatre and the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

“I am going to miss that wonderful space with all its memories," said Ivers after the ceremonies. “But I am looking forward to a new era at the Utah Shakespeare Festival!”

“The Adams Theatre as been the iconic landmark and artistic home for the Utah Shakespeare Festival for many years,” concluded Phillips. “Moving to the new Engelstad Theatre will be a difficult transition for us to make from our charming and trusted home, but we are anxiously awaiting the opportunities that the new space will provide.”

Comments from Facebook on “Farewell to the Adams”

‪Patrick Page: I’m thinking of you this weekend and sending much love. What a glorious legacy you have created. The Adams Theatre is more than just a space. As Othello says “There’s magic in the web of it.”

Leslie Calvert: “Thank you USF for another amazing season! Thank you for a beautiful way to carry the past into the future. I have so many wonderful memories of the years of attendance and those from the final 3 nights at the Adams are among the top. I look forward to the next season and the new theater in just over 300 days. Thank you for what you do for live theater, you are a gem!”

Ron Ranson: “Those years were GREAT times with the most terrific theatre people. Long Live Utah Shakes.”

**Alice Sproul:**Love this place and the memories I have of it. It will be missed

Kathleen McCall-Thompson: “The Adams holds a very special place in my heart! Beautiful, spirited theatre! farewell!”

Treva Smotony Fendrick: “I’m going to miss that theatre. but the new one will have bathrooms!!! woohoo!!!”

P. J. Rockwell: “So many memories flood my mind with the closing of the Adams Memorial Theatre at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, only a sonnet seems right:”
(dedicated to Fred C. Adams)
Now rest your weary wood in mirth’s delight,
set down thy tragic mem’ries with a dance,
transfixed as ev’ry patron, ev’ry night,
as thousands whispered “Oh!’ as in a trance.
From humble roots like your famed Greenshow tree,
you’ve grown, matured, and passed the torch along,
with childlike wonder watched as words set free,
yet captured too, your heart ingrained in song.
So let the night enlivened say thy grace,
in quiet echoes of applauses past,
and show your spirit Peace as ’twere a face
so many shared as audience and cast.
Before you greet your fate think on but this,
to be remembered’s not to be remiss.

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