It is the time of year when every news outlet and public organization seems to announce its top stories of the past twelve months. The past season has been a banner year at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, so we thought we would get in on this fun year-end tradition. It was difficult to narrow it down to just ten stories, but here are those chosen for 2016 by the Festival communications team:


10. Salt Lake City Gala raises record amount for one evening: the gala fundraiser, which honored Founder Fred C. Adams, was February 20 at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City and netted over $130,000 for the Festival. The evening, with Amanda Dickson and Brian Martin as masters of ceremonies, featured a social hour, dinner, program, and live dancing.
Read about the Gala


9. Everybody was talking about the 2016 season: From prominent mentions in American Theatre magazine and the Los Angeles Times to a twenty-minute news special on KSL-TV and online shout-outs from fans and friends around the world, this season has been the subject of hundreds of positive notices throughout the country.
American Theatre article | Los Angeles Times article | KSL-TV broadcast


8. Incredible artistic season leads to record number of sold out performances: The 2016 season saw more sold out performances than at any other time in the history of the Festival: 139 sold-out performances, compared to 72 in 2012, which was previously the best season for sold-out houses. Driven by the incredible artistic success of the season, it was, indeed, a stellar year.
Read about the landmark season


7. Long-time volunteer coordinator passes away: On September 11, The Utah Shakespeare Festival staff, artists, guests, and volunteers were saddened by the passing of Anne Judd. She had been a supporter of the Festival for many years in many capacities, most noticeably as volunteer coordinator since 1989. She was also very involved in the New American Playwrights Project, as a wise and steady voice in selecting plays for the program.
Read the complete story


6. Festival Founder appears for the first time on the Festival’s outdoor stage and in a Shakespeare play: It’s easy to assume that Fred C. Adams, the Festival’s founder, has appeared on the Festival’s outdoor stages or at least in a Festival play by William Shakespeare. But, even though he has appeared in other Festival plays and has directed most of the Shakespearean canon, 2016 marked his debut in a Shakespeare play (Verges in Much Ado about Nothing) and on the outdoor stage (the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre).
Read a bio of Adams | Read about his latest recognition


5. Artistic directors perform in The Odd Couple—and alternate between roles: On September 16, the Festival opened Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, starring David Ivers and Brian Vaughn as the greatly-at-odds roommates Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar. But they added a twist: They would alternate between the roles and once a week let the audience choose who played whom just before the show started. “Crazy” or “heroic,” it was a resounding success.
Read the Complete Story


4. The Festival unveils new logo: In March, the Festival unveiled a new logo. The new emblem has a connection to the past but an eye firmly on the future. It features a stylized crown with three points which represent the three points of the Festival mission: to educate, enrich, and entertain. They also represent the three Festival theatres and acknowledge the Festival’s beautiful mountain home and the Engelstad Theatre, including the chevron pattern that is so prevalent there.
Read about and view a video explaining the logo                            


3. New plays program re-envisioned, prompting a world premiere in 2017: On August 12, Artistic Directors David Ivers and Brian Vaughn announced a new name, an increased commitment, and an enhanced mission for the Festival’s new plays program. Formerly known as the New American Playwrights Project (NAPP), the Festival’s primary vehicle for exploring new works is now Words Cubed. One of the first successes of the new program was to present the first staged reading of nationally-recognized playwright Neil LaBute’s new play, How To Fight Loneliness, which will have its premiere production at the Festival during the 2017 season.
Read the Words Cubed Story | Read about Neil LaBute


2. Festival executive director announces retirement: On September 7, R. Scott Phillips, who has worked in leadership of the Festival for forty years, announced his retirement effective March 1, 2017. This was followed up by the announcement on October 21, that Phillips was the recipient of the prestigious Mark R. Sumner Award, granted yearly by the Institute of Outdoor Drama (IOD). The award recognizes significant contributions by an individual in the theatre community.
Read the Retirement Story | Read the Sumner Award Story          


1. The Beverley Center, including two new theatres, opens: July 7, 2016 was one of the most noteworthy days in the history of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, as trumpeters heralded the events, dignitaries spoke, and friends cut the ribbon to the new Beverley Taylor Center for the Arts, new home of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Planned for decades, the center, with two new theatres, administrative and artistic offices and work space, and a rehearsal/education hall, was finally opened to crowds of well-wishers and long-time dreamers.
Read the Complete Story | View Photos of the Dedication


Tickets are now on sale for the Festival’s 56th season. It will run from June 29 to October 21 and features As You Like It, Shakespeare in Love, Romeo and Juliet, Guys and Dolls, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Treasure Island, The Tavern, How To Fight Loneliness, and William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play (abridged). For more information and tickets visit www.bard.org or call 1-800-PLAYTIX.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is part of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts at Southern Utah University, which also includes the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA).