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Meet the Team: Every Brilliant Thing to Tour 2023-2023

Every Brilliant Thing

By Liz Armstrong

CEDAR CITY, UT – Offered free by the Utah Shakespeare Festival to every public high school in the state of Utah, the life-affirming play Every Brilliant Thing will tour once again this year. Sponsored by the Utah State Legislature, this production aims to address the extremely high suicide rate among Utah teenagers. 

Every Brilliant Thing follows the experience of one person dealing with how his mother’s depression and suicide attempts affect his life,” Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox said. “It is a poignant, moving story with the potential to reach students who may be personally coping with mental illness or who are witnessing its impact within their family or social network. Using the arts as a platform to discuss this devastating issue allows students to safely learn how to approach the topic and where to turn for help.”

Starting this February, the show will tour across the state of Utah to bring the heartwarming and comforting message to secondary school students. To reach as many schools in Utah as possible, the tour will continue in spring 2024, as well. 

“Our 2019/2020 tour was a wonderful success,” said Tour Manager Jordan Simmons. “The tour allowed students to start important conversations with parents, school counselors, and local mental health professionals.” The play provides a framework, resources, and tools for a positive and interactive discussion about suicide and depression. 

The Plot 

The story begins when, at seven-years old, the lone character learns that their mother is in the hospital after her first attempt to take her own life. Afterwards, they begin a list. A list of everything brilliant about the world. Everything worth living for. With humor and inventiveness, the story explores depression and hope, uncertainty and change, relationships and solitude, risk and resilience, guilt and forgiveness.

Meet The Team 

Cordell Cole – Director 
Previously at the Festival, Cole held roles in Richard III, Pericles, Ragtime, and Macbeth. Additionally, he acted in the Every Brilliant Thing tour the last time it went out. 

He has also taken on Othello in Othello at the Texas Shakespeare Festival, Nick in Nick’s Flamingo at Alliance Theatre, and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet at American Shakespeare Center. 

Jordan Simmons – Tour Manager
Simmons received a Master of Fine Arts in Arts Administration from Southern Utah University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Technology from Utah State University. 

He was the production assistant for Every Brilliant Thing and Twelfth Night at the Festival. He has also been the production assistant for The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Mamma Mia at Pacific Conservatory Theatre and the stage manager for Part of the Story for Salt Lake Acting Company. 

“I was one of two tour managers on the 2019/2020 Every Brilliant Thing tour,” Simmons said. “I’m excited to again watch students realize that it’s okay to talk about what they’re experiencing, even if what they’re experiencing is difficult.”

Kathryn Whilden – Stage Manager
Whilden received a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Spanish from Wofford College. Previously at the Festival, she was the assistant stage manager for The Sound of Music. 

Whilden has also worked for Cape Fear Regional Theatre, Triad Stage, and Clinton Area Showboat Theatre. 

Meet the Actors 

Kat Lee 
Lee received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from Otterbein University. Previously at the Festival, Lee acted in Intimate Apparel, Ragtime, and the 2019/2020 tour of Every Brilliant Thing.

Additionally, she played Martha Cratchit in A Christmas Carol at Denver Center for Performing Arts, Savannah in Freaky Friday for Lyric Repertory Company, and Lorrell Robinson in Dream Girls at Short North Stage. 

Jeremy Thompson 
Thompson received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Idaho. Previously at the Festival, he was in All’s Well That Ends Well, King Lear, and the 2019/2020 tour of Every Brilliant Thing.

He also has taken on roles at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Island Shakespeare Festival, and Idaho Repertory Theatre. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to reconnect with some students who saw the first tour and hear how the show stuck with them, especially through the uncertainty and anxiety of the 2020 school year,” Thompson said. “I’m very grateful to be able to bring this story to a new generation of young people.”

Funded by the State of Utah, the production is free to any secondary education school in Utah that is interested. The tour will begin February 13, 2023, and will run through the end of April. If you would like Every Brilliant Thing to come to your school or community, please complete this form: Tour Request Form.

“Young people need the affirmation that they are not alone. Each and every student that will watch this production will be reminded that they are needed, they are loved, and they belong here,” Governor Cox said.

For more information on the play, access the study guide at bard.org

For questions, contact Simmons at 435-299-0567 or brillianttour@bard.org.

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© Utah Shakespeare Festival 2024 www.bard.org Cedar City, Utah