Festival Feature: Meet Volunteers Bev and Jim Mudd
By Liz Armstrong
Bev and Jim Mudd have been attending plays at the Utah Shakespeare Festival for 40 years, starting in 1983. The couple fell so in love with theatre that when they retired, they decided to move across state lines to become dedicated volunteers for the Festival.
“I think we are professional volunteers,” Bev said. “We are busier now than with any job we’ve ever had.”
The couple retired 11 years ago and moved from Carson City, Nevada to Cedar City to dedicate their lives to volunteering at the Festival.
“We’ve always loved theatre and see plays all over the world together,” Bev said.
Before Bev retired, she was a high school English teacher who taught Shakespeare to her students. Although her husband didn’t have a career that correlated directly with theatre, he also had a passion for Shakespeare.
“I was just a computer geek with an interest in Shakespeare,” Jim said.
This season, the couple have worked as ushers in the Randall L. Jones Theatre and Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre.
“We want to keep busy and stay moving, but we’re doing the things we want to do, not the things we have to do,” Jim said.
They stay busy indeed. In addition to volunteering at the Festival, the couple volunteers for the Cedar City Hospital, InterMountain Performing Arts Conservatory, Southern Utah University athletics, and more.
This year, Jim even helped decorate for the fall season on Cedar City’s Main Street and drove the train during the Cedar City Railroad Centennial Celebration.
Bev and Jim are also on the Board of the Utah Shakespeare Festival Guild. The Guild is a non-profit organization, founded over 60 years ago by the late Barbara Adams, wife of late Festival founder Fred C. Adams. The Guild serves, supports, and promotes the Festival through membership, volunteering, and fundraising activities.
The largest of its kind in North America, the competition hosts around 3,000 students who compete on Southern Utah University’s campus. This is the Mudds’ fourth year volunteering, and their support helps the mission of the Shakespeare Competition: to help participants grow and learn in the world of theatre and “cultivate the art of theatre, dance and music.”
As a retired educator, it’s extremely important to Bev that the Festival supports schools and students.
“There is nothing more powerful than seeing young people excited about something,” Bev said.
For Jim, the competition is imperative in bringing “new blood into theatre.”
But their support of the arts goes beyond just the Festival. As parents, the couple passed down their love of theatre to their daughter, who went to school for technical theatre design. Now, using her degree, she designs for Disney, hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, and more.
“We started taking her to plays when she was young. She was about eight or nine years old when she saw Richard III starring Patrick Page,” Jim said. “That performance was 3 hours and 40 minutes, and she was awake and into the play the whole time.”
Bev is Chairman of the Crafts Committee for the Guild, which means she spends hours creating masks, hair pieces, bags, and more to sell at the Randall L. Jones gift shop.
The costume and props department gives us things that would be thrown away, such as scraps of material,” Bev said. “We repurpose the materials and [sell things], and all the money comes back to the Festival.”
These pieces turn into valuable collector’s items, as patrons can purchase tangible items made from the same material they see onstage.
Leftover props, such as the maps from King Lear and meat pies from Sweeney Todd are also sold to interested patrons.
Ultimately, the couple has become an invaluable resource to the Festival and have poured countless hours of their own time into the organization.
“When they need us, they call us,” Bev said. “We are reliable and we show up, because that’s what we like to do.”