Festival Season a Wholehearted Artistic Success
The most recent season at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the last in the iconic Adams Shakespearean Theatre, was a wholehearted artistic success, according to Artistic Directors David Ivers and Brian Vaughn. The last spotlight was dimmed on October 31, after a Halloween production of Dracula—and now 2015 is one for the books.
“I am very pleased with the artistic excellence of the season,” said Ivers. “The Festival continues to attract top talent in our field, and the strength of our programming, coupled with the immense beauty and welcoming spirit of our community continues to keep us on the radar as one of the top destination theatres in the country.”
“The season was generally very well received by audiences, reviewers, and theatre professionals,” added Vaughn. “It was a solid artistic season.”
The Festival this year put a lot of resources and effort to new technology in the theatre, bringing an enhanced experience to the plays. For instance, the Festival purchased new computerized moving lights and high-tech projection equipment to provide some amazing lighting effects in such shows as Amadeus and beautiful (and spooky) projections in Dracula. “We embarked into new territory in some of our production areas,” said Ivers. “By allocating resources to our these areas, we were able to attract top-notch artists and improve the quality of our final product.”
But, putting technology and special effects aside, the historical appeal of the Festival has long been the strength and quality of its actors, and 2015 was no exception. “It was one of the strongest acting companies we’ve had in a long time,” said Vaughn.
Especially memorable for both Ivers and Vaughn was the Festival’s production of the extraordinary Amadeus. Both mentioned the size and scale of the production (especially Ivers, who played the huge and challenging role of Salieri), and both were proud of the work. “It was one of the most powerful productions we have had in some time,” said Vaughn, “and it was ascetically beautiful across the board.”
Memorable for Executive Director R. Scott Phillips was The Taming of the Shrew. Phillips was assistant director on the show, while Fred. C. Adams, Festival founder, was the director. “The Taming of the Shrew was the most popular show with our audiences and also received universally positive reviews,” said Phillips. “It was a joy to work on and was a fitting conclusion to the amazing life of the Adams Shakespeare Theatre.”
Of course, no discussion of 2015 would be complete without exploring how it helps set the stage for the huge changes planned for 2016. The 2015 productions of Henry IV Part Two, King Lear, and The Taming of the Shrew were the last Festival productions in the aging Adams Theatre.
Next season, the Festival will have moved into the new Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, including the new Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre which replaces the Adams Theatre, and the new Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre, a 200-seat theatre designed for intimate productions, as well as the existing Randall L. Jones Theatre.
The move gives the Festival a dedicated rehearsal hall for the first time in its history, as well as the latest technology and audience comforts in all three theatres. The audience experience will also be enhanced by having everything—including plays, seminars, The Greenshow, and the new Southern Utah Museum of Art—all in a cohesive center, with everything easily accessible.
In addition, having all three theatres will open up some exciting scheduling and production possibilities for the Festival, and the excitement generated during the 2015 season as construction as been moving ahead rapidly will definitely carry over to 2016.
“It was a bittersweet year as we bid farewell to the Adams Theatre, and it is with great excitement that we look forward to an engaging first season in the new Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre in the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts,” said Ivers.
The 2016 season includes Shakespeare’s warm comedy Much Ado about Nothing, the conclusion of the story of Prince Hal/King Henry in Henry V, and a new, swashbuckling Ken Ludwig adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers in the new Engelstad Theatre. In the new Anes Theatre will be a modern version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and a hilarious two-person tour-de-force musical, Murder for Two. The Randall Theatre will feature the Festival’s production of Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins, Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, and the hilarious Marx Brothers farce, The Cocoanuts.
Tickets and more information are available online at www.bard.org and by calling the Ticket Office at 800-PLAYTIX.