News From the Festival

SUU Students Receive Opportunity of a Lifetime Through Fellowship Program

Three members of The Greenshow are SUU Fellows in the 2023 season.

Each year, the Utah Shakespeare Festival selects a group of Southern Utah University students to be a part of the SUU Fellowship Program, some in acting, others in technical theatre. This gives the university students the chance to perform with or work alongside theatre professionals before they even graduate. 

“My favorite part of the Festival this year has been getting to see all of these brilliant artists do what they are passionate about,” SUU Fellow Zina Johnstun said. “The attention to detail that these performers have to make their characters fully fleshed-out is astounding.” 

Students interested in joining the program send in video auditions and then must wait months to find out if they have been accepted into the program. Many of the roles of SUU Fellows in acting are to work as understudies, memorizing multiple parts in different plays. Oftentimes, it’s a demanding and thankless job—but the hard work is worth it, as students get the opportunity of a lifetime, working at a Tony Award-winning and world-renowned theater alongside professional actors.

 Meet the Acting Fellows

This year, the acting fellows chosen for the 2023 season are Ashley Aquino, Zina Johnstun, Jarod D. Lewis, Avery Peterson, and Matthew Wangemann. 

Ashley Aquino was cast as Mustardseed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Featured Performer for The Greenshow (front row in green in the photo above). She is also an understudy for Lady Montague/Paris’s Page/ensemble in Romeo and Juliet.

Zina Johnstun landed the roles of Fiddlefern in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ensemble in Romeo and Juliet, and understudy for Flute/Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Balthasar/Gregory in Romeo and Juliet

“I believe that theatre is essential to humanity. It is a way of storytelling that one can physically see the emotions and experiences that are different from [oneself],” Johnstun said. “This creates an empathy that we need more of in this world.” 

Jarod D. Lewis is Gregory in Romeo and Juliet, while understudying an astounding ten roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, Coriolanus, and Timon of Athens

“Keeping all those tracks straight in my head has truly been a huge task,” Lewis said. “This experience has given me confidence in my ability to learn quickly and hold lots of actor information all at once.” 

Avery Peterson is in Romeo and Juliet as ensemble and The Greenshow as Featured Performer (back row in blue in the photo above), and is an understudy for five roles between Jane Austen’s Emma the Musical and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“I have made valuable connections that I hope will last a lifetime, and learned so much from so many talented professionals,” Peterson said. “It’s easy to be intimidated by such talent, especially when it’s your first professional gig, but I’m fortunate to say that I got to work with some of the kindest, most supportive performers around.” 

Peterson noted that she was asked to sign her autograph for two girls in the audience. 

“I used to practice my signature when I was little, in hopes that someone would think I was cool enough to ask for an autograph,” Peterson said. “It felt like a full-circle moment, since I remember asking actors for their autographs growing up, too.” 

Matthew Wangemann was cast as Thistleweed in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Featured Performer in The Greenshow (back row in the hat in the photo above) and various understudy roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet

“I had the unique opportunity to cover a role for a couple weeks while a replacement was found, and the amount of love and support I received from the cast and crew was overwhelming,” Wangemann said. “I felt very seen and appreciated.”

Meet the Tech Fellows

For students interested in other areas of theatre, the Fellowship Program also selects five students to help in the technical area. The following were selected for the 2023 season: Mikayla Adams (hair and makeup/run crew), Nora Asplund (wardrobe), Ro Christiansen (carpenter/stage crew), Angella Lopez (carpenter), and Dora Watkins (production assistant to stage management and youth stage manager). 

Nora Asplund expressed her gratitude for making lifelong friends at the Festival this season, and for learning valuable life lessons, one of which was the importance of advocating for oneself.

“I had to spend a lot of time learning that I was just as important as the shows are,” Asplund said. “If the members of the cast and crew are not at their best, the show will never be.”

This season, Asplund spent a lot of time creating and modifying costumes for Coriolanus and Romeo and Juliet. As the season progressed, she switched to primarily working on The Greenshow, where she was in charge of laundry, repairs, and making sure the costumes always looked their best. 

“My primary focus is making sure the designer’s vision is upheld throughout the entire run of the show,” Asplund said. 

Asplund believes that theatre is crucial to the world we live in, and that it is an amazing tool both for those who create it and those who watch it. 

“Participating in theatre helps increase compassion and promotes an understanding…that is so crucial to living a healthy, happy life,” Asplund said. 

Don’t miss out on witnessing the hard work of these SUU Fellows, so purchase tickets today. 

The 2023 season lineup is Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Raisin in the Sun, and The Greenshow which close by September 9; The Play That Goes Wrong, Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, Coriolanus, and Timon of Athens which run through October 7. For more information, to purchase tickets, and more, visit or call 1-800-PLAYTIX.

Celebrating 19 Years Of Volunteering: Diane and Steve Sharp on Words Cubed

Diane and Steve Sharp

Diane and Steve Sharp have spent countless hours volunteering at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, and it is with grateful hearts that we celebrate their nineteenth year of work, especially highlighting their time and dedication spent on Words Cubed.

“The Sharps have been the lifeblood of the Festival’s new play program for many years,” Executive Managing Director Michael Bahr said. 

About Words Cubed

Words Cubed is the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s new play program that seeks to nurture and develop openly-submitted, solicited, and commissioned plays by providing a professionally supported platform for readings, workshops, and fully realized productions. 

Part of an ongoing commitment to create a diverse body of work, playwrights spend a week at the Festival in rehearsals, working closely with actors, directors, the Sharps, and more, refining and rewriting their plays. 

This past August Words Cubed featured two new plays. The Value by Nicholas Dunn, directed by Elijah Alexander, featured a cast with Dylan J. Fleming, Tim Fullerton, Alex Keiper, James Ryen, and Marco Antonio Vega. Horse Thief by Christine Whitley was directed by Lisa Quoresimo and featured Jasmine Bracey, Nathan Hosner, and Marissa Swanner. 

The Beginning 

The Sharps first started attending the Festival in 1992, although their love for theatre started long before that. 

“I took Diane to a play right after we were married in Salt Lake,” Steve said. “We’ve been married 57 years. We’ve always loved live theatre, but never wanted to be involved in it.” 

But that changed in 2005. 

“We told Scott Phillips and [late Festival founder] Fred C. Adams that the Festival had given us so much, and now that we were both retired, we wanted to give back,” Diane said.  

So, the Sharps began their volunteer work in the new play program. The couple candidly admitted that this is because they weren’t Shakespeare fans at first. That, of course, changed over the years, and although they now enjoy Shakespeare productions, their devotion to new plays stayed consistent. 

“It’s been a real joy in our lives,” Steve said. “If you would have asked me 20 years ago if I would be doing this, I would’ve said you were crazy. But we have felt so embraced, and volunteering is our way to give back for all the good times we’ve had at the Festival.”

As the new play program developed and grew into what is now Words Cubed—and as the Festival has grown—the Sharps’ responsibilities shifted.

“No job is beneath them, from preparing apartments, transporting playwrights, copying scripts, preparing and setting up rehearsal, and house managing,” Bahr said. “They understand and respect the process of play development and cultivation of new work and are eager to do anything to assist.”

From initially taking on a company management role, volunteering at the Shakespeare Competition, and more, they now primarily serve as hosts for the new playwrights visiting. The goal through it all has been one thing—to give back.

“Words Cubed is a Gift” 

“Little did we know, this volunteer work would change our lives,” Diane said. 

Although the couple spends half the year in a retirement community in Arizona, they return to  Cedar City from approximately March to September to volunteer at the Festival. But even out of state, they are still involved with theatre. 

“There’s community theatre [in Arizona], and Steve works the light board and I work as an assistant director and producer,” Diane said. “It’s been so rewarding, and we realized how much we’ve learned from the Festival.” 

The Sharps explained that Words Cubed has only deepened their love for live theatre, as knowing what goes on behind the scenes has taught them to appreciate productions more fully. 

“We know now what it takes to put a play together, and can point out exactly why we like [certain plays],” Diane said. 

Another joy the program gives the Sharps is discovering new talent. Because the program seeks out contemporary playwrights, the couple enjoys how Words Cubed gives these playwrights hope and highlights their up-and-coming work in theatre.

“We discover the future playwrights who are going to make a difference, and [in turn] their work is a gift to us,” Diane said. 

Although they have formed a fondness for most of the plays that have come through the program because of their close work with the playwrights, Diane especially loves Shunned by Larry Parr, while one of Steve’s favorites is How to Fight Loneliness by Neil LaBute.

However, it’s not just their love for the plays, the new play program, and live theatre that keeps them coming back, but the relationships they have made through the years at the Festival.

“It’s been phenomenal. We’ve made amazing friendships with patrons, actors, and playwrights,” Diane said. 

The Festival echoes these sentiments—expressing our gratitude for their work and friendship for nearly twenty years. Interim Artistic Director and Director of New Play Development Derek Charles Livingston expressed his gratitude profusely. 

“Diane and Steve’s dedication [to the Festival and the new play program] is not just tremendous—but invaluable,” Livingston said. “Not only do they bring a ‘We’ll do anything spirit,’ and ethos, their longevity brings an institutional knowledge that rivals that of anyone on staff when it comes to Words Cubed work.” 

For more information on the Words Cubed program that the Sharps have shaped, visit

Utah Shakespeare Festival Unveils New Leadership Team

John DiAntonio as Artistic Director and Michael Bahr as Executive Managing Director

John DiAntonio as Artistic Director and Michael Bahr as Executive Managing Director

Utah Shakespeare Festival (USF) is pleased to announce John DiAntonio as its new Artistic Director and Michael Bahr as Executive Managing Director. DiAntonio is currently the Producing Artistic Director at Creede Repertory Theatre (CRT) in Creede, Colorado, and brings seven years of executive leadership experience with a rotating repertory company in a rural destination setting. 

Bahr has been serving as USF’s Interim Managing Director since November of 2022 and previously served as USF’s Education Director for over twenty years.

DiAntonio will join USF’s leadership team later this year with the newly appointed Bahr. Derek Charles Livingston, currently serving as the Festival’s Interim Artistic Director, will continue as Artistic Associate and Director of New Play Development. 

“John has a great love for Shakespeare, experience with rotating repertory, and embraces the complexity and sustainability of theatrical processes,” Bahr says. “He will be a great asset to our present ensemble of artists, artisans, staff members, volunteers, and the community. I’m thrilled that he is joining our artistic team, building on the legacy of the past and illuminating our bright future.”

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, DiAntonio discovered theatre at age 16 through improvisation and the works of Shakespeare. He received his BA in Theatre and Psychology from Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his MFA in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, Colorado, with additional training in classical acting from the British American Drama Academy in London. A member of Actors Equity Association, he and his wife Caitlin Wise DiAntonio, an actor who came up through USF’s education programming as a participant in its annual Shakespeare Competition, lived in New York for six years before beginning his leadership career with CRT. Before this, he was a freelance actor, director, playwright, and teacher. Under his leadership, CRT has achieved both artistic and financial success. DiAntonio and CRT are celebrated by two articles in the New York Times: “Friday Night Footlights: How Theatre Bonds a Colorado Town” and “In a Small Mountain Town, a Beloved Theatre Company Prevails.”

“What an honor to join the extraordinary artists of the Utah Shakespeare Festival,” says DiAntonio. “I cannot wait to connect with the Cedar City community, recruit more theatre lovers, and bring the magic of the Bard to the stage as we embark on the 63rd season.”

“​From a board member’s perspective, John has a wonderful balance of vision for USF accompanied by proven administrative skills and artistic leadership,” said Bryan Watabe, immediate past board chair and co-chair of the search committee. “I believe the Festival will thrive with him as our Artistic Director.”

In addition, Bahr excels at community building and stresses that all Festival productions, orientations, seminars, and Greenshows are designed to bring artists and the community together to expand perspectives.

“I am so pleased Michael has accepted this important appointment," said Southern Utah University President Mindy Benson. “He has a long history of audience development, creative programming, and cultivating connections to art not only within the community and on campus but with patrons, donors, and those with whom he works daily. As a result, I have confidence and optimism about the future of the Festival.”

Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2023 season presents Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the American classic A Raisin in the Sun, which close by September 9; the hilarious The Play That Goes Wrong, the lovely Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, and Shakespeare’s Coriolanus and Timon of Athens run through October 7. These productions are accompanied by other enriching and educational experiences such as backstage tours, orientations, literary and production seminars, and the ever-popular Greenshow. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 1-800-PLAYTIX.

A More Relaxed and Inclusive Theatre Environment: Half-Off Sensory-Friendly/All-Access Performances

Sensory-Friendly Performances

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is committed to offering a theatre-going experience in which everyone feels confident and comfortable. It is with this commitment in mind that the Festival is offering two Sensory-Friendly/All-Access performances during the 2023 season at a reduced ticket price. 

These are performances designed for individuals with sensory sensitivities, those on the autism spectrum, those with other physical and neurodiversities, and anyone who would enjoy attending live theatre in a more flexible and relaxed environment. Our team is available to answer any questions and to help ensure a positive theatre experience for all: please feel free to call the Education Department at 435-865-8333.

Tickets will be fifty percent off, and patrons can see A Midsummer Night’s Dream at 8:00 pm on September 4 in the outdoor Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, or Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical at 2:00 pm on September 9 in the indoor Randall L. Jones Theatre. To purchase tickets, contact the box office at 800-PLAYTIX.

What to Expect
For those attending these performances, visit our Accessibility Resources page for a full list of what to expect and what is being offered.

“We’re really not making changes to the shows, we’re just adjusting certain aspects to make the theatre-going experience more accessible,” Education Director Katherine Norman said.

Some of these changes include: a relaxed audience setting that encourages and embraces movement and noise, house lights staying partially on, closed captioning, additional signs around the theatre for more ease of navigation, designated quiet spaces for guests who would like a break, and more. 

Additionally, the theatres will be open prior to performances for anyone who would like to visit the space in a quieter setting before the performance. Specific times are listed on the Accessibility Resources page. Patrons may also find these social narratives and this video story helpful to see everything they need to know before attending. 

Guests will also have the opportunity to meet actors in the lobby following the Emma performance. At the performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, there will be a sensory table, where guests will be able to interact with items from the production, like pieces of Oberon’s shirt provided from the Costume Shop. 

Festival Partnerships
In an effort to expand accessibility resources, the Festival is working in partnership with Pink Umbrella Theatre/Stepping Stone Educational Services.

“They are a theatre company completely focused on theatre by and for people, mostly on the autism spectrum, but with all sorts of neurodiversities,” Norman said. “Since that is their expertise, they’ve been supporting us in expanding our offerings.”

Additionally, the Education Department is working directly with an advisory committee of Cedar City community members to make sure the Sensory-Friendly/All-Access performances are benefitting guests in the best way possible. Made up of theatre lovers who are neurodiverse themselves, as well as parents, teachers, and more, it has been a very collaborative process. 

“These community members came to the shows and have offered feedback on what extra resources or supports were needed, or how we could adapt to make guests feel more comfortable,” Norman said. 

For those interested in joining the committee next season, please email

Military Appreciation Days and Sensory-Friendly/All-Access Performances
During the same time, the Festival is also celebrating our Armed Forces by offering free tickets to military personnel for performances from September 4 to 9. Our Military Appreciation Days recognize the invaluable sacrifices, commitment, and unwavering dedication of our veterans and active-duty members.

Eligible patrons—those with a military ID or DD214 form, whether active or veteran—can receive four complimentary tickets per ID to any 2023 show during the specified dates. Please contact the box office to redeem. These tickets can be split across multiple shows or all used for a single performance. Please note, these tickets cannot be redeemed for premier seating sections.

These tickets can be redeemed for Sensory-Friendly/All-Access performances during the same week. Our team is available to answer any questions and to help ensure a memorable theatre experience for all.

The 2023 season lineup is Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and A Raisin in the Sun which close by September 9; The Play That Goes Wrong, Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, Coriolanus, and Timon of Athens which run through October 7. For more information, to purchase tickets, and more or call 1-800-PLAYTIX.

Military Appreciation Days 2023

Military Appreciation Days 2023

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is celebrating our Armed Forces by offering free tickets to military personnel for performances from September 4 to 9. Our Military Appreciation Days recognize the invaluable sacrifices, commitment, and unwavering dedication of our veterans and active-duty members.

Eligible patrons—those with a military ID or DD214 form, whether active or veteran—can receive four complimentary tickets per ID to any 2023 show during the specified dates. These tickets can be split across multiple shows or all used for a single performance. Please note, these tickets cannot be redeemed for premier seating sections.

“I’m honored to be the son of a proud Vietnam veteran,” said Donn Jersey, director of development and communication, “and once again the Utah Shakespeare Festival wants to extend a warm welcome and humble thank you to all of those that made sacrifices for our country and every one of us.”

Reserve tickets now by calling 800-PLAYTIX or by visiting the ticket office near the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre. Please note: this special offer cannot be reserved online and spaces are limited.

Military Appreciation Performances Include:

MONDAY (9/4)

  • A Raisin in the Sun, 2:00 pm, Randall L. Jones Theatre
  • Timon of Athens, 2:00 pm, Anes Studio Theatre (SOLD OUT)
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 8:00 pm, Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre
    *Sensory-Friendly/All-Access performance (click here for more details)
  • Jane Austen’s Emma the Musical, 8:00 pm, Randall L. Jones Theatre


  • The Play That Goes Wrong, 2:00 pm, Randall L. Jones Theatre
  • Coriolanus, 2:00 pm, Anes Studio Theatre
  • Romeo and Juliet, 8:00 pm, Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre
  • A Raisin in the Sun, 8:00 pm, Randall L. Jones Theatre


  • Jane Austen’s Emma the Musical, 2:00 pm, Randall L. Jones Theatre
  • Timon of Athens, 2:00 pm, Anes Studio Theatre
  • Romeo and Juliet, 8:00 pm, Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre
  • The Play That Goes Wrong, 8:00 pm, Randall L. Jones Theatre


  • A Raisin in the Sun, 2:00 pm, Randall L. Jones Theatre
  • Coriolanus, 2:00 pm, Anes Studio Theatre
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 8:00 pm, Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre
  • Jane Austen’s Emma the Musical, 8:00 pm, Randall L. Jones Theatre


  • The Play That Goes Wrong, 2:00 pm, Randall L. Jones Theatre
  • Timon of Athens, 2:00 pm, Anes Studio Theatre
  • Romeo and Juliet, 8:00 pm, Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre - Closing Night
  • A Raisin in the Sun, 8:00 pm, Randall L. Jones Theatre - Closing Night


  • Jane Austen’s Emma the Musical, 2:00 pm, Randall L. Jones Theatre
    *Sensory-Friendly/All-Access performance (click here for more details)
  • Coriolanus, 2:00 pm, Anes Studio Theatre
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 8:00 pm, Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre - Closing Night
  • The Play That Goes Wrong, 8:00 pm, Randall L. Jones Theatre

(*As noted, in addition to our regular shows, the Festival is also offering two Sensory-Friendly/All-Access performances during this same week. These are performances designed for individuals with sensory sensitivities, those on the autism spectrum, and other neurodiversities. We encourage patrons to be thoughtful when choosing to attend these shows to ensure they align with their unique needs. Our team is available to answer any questions and to help ensure a memorable theatre experience for all.)

The 2023 season lineup is Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and A Raisin in the Sun which close by September 9; The Play That Goes Wrong, Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, Coriolanus, and Timon of Athens run through October 7. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit or call 1-800-PLAYTIX.

Festival Offers Affordable and Safe Child Care During Plays

Festival Child Care

The goal of the Festival’s productions are intended to “entertain, educate, and enrich regional and national audiences.” With that in mind, the Festival offers professional child care, so that busy parents and caretakers may also more easily enjoy the productions. 

For children up to ten years of age, child care is provided for all Festival plays. Because the program is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Foundation, it is extremely affordable, just $10 per child per play. 

The facility is professionally-staffed, safe, and state-licensed, located just south of the Randall L. Jones Theatre at 123 South 300 West. 

Manager Kris Cooley has worked at Festival Child Care since 1981, although she started caring for children long before that. 

“When I was twelve years old, [our late Founder] Fred C. Adams asked me to tend kids in his office,” Cooley said. “It was always his vision to have child care at the Festival.”

That vision became a reality, and Cooley has watched children over the years grow up and return to the Festival, bringing their own kids to child care. 

“They trust their kids to us, which is their most treasured possession, so you create a bond with the families,” Cooley said. “We’ve received wedding and graduation announcements from kids we’ve watched . . . it becomes a family.”

The staff has extensive training, and there is always someone at the facility that is CPR certified. The program meets all state requirements, and Cooley noted that the facility is designed just for kids.

“It’s the best job ever,” Cooley said. “I taught school for 35 years, so I always had lesson plans and other things to do. At child care, the lesson plan is to be happy, make the kids happy, and make sure everyone has fun.” Clearly, Cooley loves children, having spent her summers off between teaching school to manage Festival Child Care.

At the facility, infants receive personalized attention, and are placed one-on-one with a child care worker. The facility is split up, with infants and toddlers in one area and older children in another. This way, the atmosphere, activities, and toys are suited specifically for each age group. There is even a backyard, with sandboxes, riding toys, and climbing equipment for children to explore. 

“We have wonderful employees; we hire good people,” Cooley said. “We have elementary principals and librarians and teachers on staff, and the younger staff members are involved in the community, serving on the mayor’s council and more.” 

Cooley is passionate about the program and wishes more patrons knew about and took advantage of Festival Child Care. 

Please note that children over the age of six may attend mainstage plays, but it’s important to visit to gather additional information about the plays, including content advisories, articles, study guides, and more in order to determine if the play is suitable for your family. 

Children of all ages are welcome at The Greenshow, playing Monday through Saturday at 7:10 p.m. With singing, dancing, stories, music, and audience participation, this is the perfect free and family-friendly entertainment. This season, there are three themes, including The Hills of Appalachia, English Regency Garden Party, and Paiute Heritage and Celebration, which rotate throughout the week. 

During the evening, Festival Child Care opens at 7 pm, so parents have the option of taking their children to The Greenshow and then dropping them off before the evening plays––or bringing them to child care so they can attend The Greenshow and the play that follows without them.

Please note that The Greenshows, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and A Raisin in the Sun close by September 9. Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, The Play That Goes Wrong, Timon of Athens, and Coriolanus continue running through October 7. Festival Child Care is available through the end of the season. 

To reserve child care, please visit or the Ticket Office onsite, or call 800-PLAYTIX.

Festival Feature: Meet Festival Charge Artist Shiloah Frederick

Shiloah Frederick
Shiloah Frederick

The success of the 2023 season at the Utah Shakespeare Festival has been a team effort. It’s the result of the ultimate collaboration between many departments and staff––from props, sound, set, costumes, marketing, company management, guest services, acting, administration, and much more. 

Shiloah Frederick was a huge part of the creation of the plays this season. As Festival Charge, Frederick oversaw painting teams as they prepared the sets for the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre and Randall L. Jones Theatre. 

A charge artist is responsible for the painting and service treatment of the scenic elements for a production. But for Frederick, her title encapsulated much more than that. Along with creating high quality sets for the plays, cultivating a team that created a positive atmosphere and worked well together was a priority for the artist. 

Frederick received the Festival’s Gene Chesley Memorial Design Award for the 2023 Season. The honor is awarded to a young Festival designer in recognition of outstanding talent and dedication. 

“Shiloah has been selected because of her outstanding talent in transforming surfaces into theatrical works of art that help tell stories to Utah Shakespeare Festival’s audiences,” Interim Artistic Director Derek Charles Livingston said, “And for her leadership with her colleagues and among the artists as the Festival Charge.” 

Frederick adamantly noted that she wouldn’t have received the award without her team. 

“Everything we do is such a team aspect, I wanted to give [the award] to the whole painting department,” Frederick said. “But my leadership is something I’m proud of, because I put a lot of intention into creating a vision for the summer.” 

Frederick’s Journey from Painting to Theatre

Originally from a town outside of Chicago, Frederick attended the University of Illinois to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting. 

During her education at the university, Frederick took a one hour practicum class in the theatre department to decompress from the stress of Fine Arts. 

“I started working in scenic design and I loved it,” Frederick said. “It took everything I liked in Fine Art and put it into something that had a career possibility.”

After completing a two-year training program at Cobalt Studios in the Scenic Artist Training Program in White Lake, NY, Frederick took a position as a charge artist at a theatre in Logan, Utah, where she worked for Lyric Repertory Company.

As for coming to Cedar City, one of Frederick’s classmates from Cobalt previously had the Festival Charge position, but after taking a full time job elsewhere, asked Frederick if she would be interested. 

Frederick was extremely interested, and fell in love with the job, returning for her second season in 2023. For the artist, being Festival Charge is the perfect intersection between art, leadership, and theatre. 

Her Work at the Festival 

This season, Frederick worked most closely on the plays in the Randall L. Jones Theatre––A Raisin in the Sun, Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, and The Play That Goes Wrong––although she also oversaw and assisted the painting team that worked on the Engelstad shows. 

“I feel most proud of the Emma floor with the deep blue/green and gold inlay,” Frederick said. “We do a lot of brick, wood, and stone [flooring], and so to do something that was so lovely was [fun].” 

The Play That Goes Wrong was Frederick’s favorite show she worked on at the Festival. 

“We did all the stenciled wallpaper, which was a long and tedious process,” Frederick said. 

But the hard work was worth it, as now audience members get to admire the art as they watch the production onstage.

In addition to painting the sets, a large part of Frederick’s work at the Festival is cultivating relationships with her team. 

“Once a week, we got the team together to talk about communication and processing emotions,” Frederick said. 

As Festival Charge, Frederick also does the hiring for the painting team, oversees the budget, decides the schedule, and creates a team culture that she and her team want to keep coming back to. 

“One of the huge benefits of being at the Festival is the dedication other people have for making other people’s lives easier,” Frederick said. 

To see Frederick’s hard work, purchase tickets to the 2023 season by calling 800-PLAYTIX or by visiting

Festival Employees Share Personal Experiences Regarding Believe Campaign

Believe Campaign

Believe (verb): To embrace a conviction with the heart and mind, drawing certainty from personal experience or intuition

To inspire connectivity this 2023 season and beyond, the Utah Shakespeare Festival excitedly launched the Believe Campaign. With this campaign, the Festival is asking beloved patrons to believe in the organization and the transformative power of live theatre. 

However, the campaign doesn’t just appeal to patrons, but to Festival employees as well. Directors Jessica Kubzansky and Valerie Rachelle share their experiences with the power of theatre, and Scenic Designer Jason Lajka describes his experience designing the set for Jane Austen’s Emma the Musical.

Director Valerie Rachelle on Believing in the Power of Theatre 

Director Valerie Rachelle’s experience with the power of theatre began at a young age. 

“I have believed in theatre and performing arts since I was a child,” Rachelle said. “My parents were professional magicians, so I grew up seeing how performing could not just entertain, but lift the hearts of an audience.”

In 2011, Rachelle had an incredible experience that further cemented her love for theatre. 

“I was in a production of Chicago in Los Angeles, and the woman playing Velma had just returned to performing after seven years,” Rachelle said. “We were backstage talking, and she was expressing how thankful she was to get back onstage.”

“It was a production she saw in Solvang of Les Miserables that gave her the courage to try again. She said the woman who played Fantine made her cry and inspired her to perform again,” Rachelle said. “I looked at her in disbelief, because I was that performer who played Fantine in Solvang.”

It is that same transformative experience that Rachelle had that she hopes audience members experience from the show she directed this season, Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical.

In an early interview, Rachelle explained that she hoped by the end of the show, the audience members would be uplifted, hug their spouse, hold hands with a loved one, or say “I love you” to someone they care about. 

“After our first preview had ended for Emma, there was a couple sitting in front of me. The wife looked at her husband and asked, ‘Are you crying?’” Rachelle said. “The man didn’t say anything, he just hugged her. And that was my goal for Emma––that the power of theatre would inspire the audience to spread pure joy and love to others.” 

Egeus’ Transformation in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Director Jessica Kubzansky 

In an exclusive 2023 season interview, Director Jessica Kubzansky encouraged patrons to look for Egeus’s transformation in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Through the power of theatre, Egeus realizes the error of his ways and comes to a startling realization regarding his daughter.

Kubzansky explains the transformation below:

“Nathan Hosner, playing Egeus, made a gorgeous discovery for the character and the story. Egeus is the one person that doesn’t go through the woods at night, and he’s insisting his daughter marry someone she doesn’t want to. He shows up the next day [but the Duke] overrrules him.

“When he ends up at the celebration of the nuptials of the couples, the mechanicals’ perform the play Pyramus and Thisbe, a star-crossed lover’s story very much like Romeo and Juliet, which is particularly fitting, given the Festival’s current season. 

“Egeus watches that play and suddenly realizes that what happened to Thisbe could have been what happened to his daughter, if the Duke hadn’t overruled him. He discovers the power of theatre. . .and perhaps now he’s going to have a happier and more fulfilled life.”

Jason Lajka on the Set Design Process of Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical 

Much of Lajka’s job as a set designer is believing that the choices he makes will connect with an audience, months before the audience is even in the theatre. 

The process of designing Emma started last August with initial design meetings––ten months before the show opened. 

Some of the questions during these brainstorming sessions included: What story are we trying to tell? What emotions are we trying to evoke? Would the story be best told on a square/angular set, or a circular/organic set? How much story does the scenery need to tell in relation to time and location? 

From there, Lajka makes “a bit of a leap of faith.” 

“I then design the set. I put down on paper what I think is going to fulfill the discussed needs,” Lajka said. 

From there, Lajka met with directors, designers, and production staff often, pushing and pulling the design to align with their intentions. 

Then, the audience arrives. 

“We’ve been working in a bubble for so long up until this moment––now it’s opening night, and we’re sitting in the audience not only as creators of the immersive experience, but now as members of a connected group.” 

Sitting in that audience, Lajka and other Festival staff members ask themselves: “Will what we decided to do in the design process resonate? Will the audience believe?” 

It is at this moment that the designers’ hope in their own work is handed over to audience members, giving patrons the ultimate control to believe in the power of theatre for themselves. 

For more information or to purchase tickets for the 2023 season, visit or call 800-PLAYTIX.

The Greenshow: Q&A with Director Britannia Howe

Britannia Howe

Director Britannia Howe has been an integral part in the production of The Greenshow at the Festival for years, including the four seasons she wrote and directed The Greenshow. She made her main stage debut at the Festival in 2021, directing Cymbeline. Howe has also directed at Cabaret Theatre, the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Women of Will, and Innovative View Theatre Company.

This season, Howe has written and directed two Greenshow performances—The Hills of Appalachia and English Regency Garden, inspired by our 2023 productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, respectively. The Festival was able to catch up with Howe and visit with her about her process as a director and theatre practitioner.

The Festival: Why were you excited to direct The Greenshow again this season?

Howe: I love The Greenshow. Being overwhelmed with the task my very first year, I remember walking into Special Collections at the Southern Utah University library and asking for the scripts of the past Greenshows. They handed me a big cardboard box and in it I found sheet music, scripts, and even Barbara Adams’s (late Founder Fred C. Adams’ wife) handwritten notes of “Greenshow Goals.” What a legacy! That was where I started, with Barbara’s handwriting.

The Festival: As audience members, what should we watch for in these performances that would help us enjoy them even more? Are there any special “Easter eggs” you have implemented as a director?

Howe: The Hills of Appalachia was inspired by the fairy magic in Midsummer. When I write Greenshows, I like to create a setting first. This gives me a box I can work inside of or a canvas I can start painting. I knew I wanted to make a night with Pixie Magic, but we have already seen English and Irish fairies on our stages. I started researching about Appalachia and I found it carries pixie folklore.

Regency Night has Jane Austen “Easter eggs” and most of the jokes I wrote are celebrating or poking fun at the relationships or story structure of her writing.

The Festival: What do you hope audience members take away from seeing The Greenshow?

Howe: I hope audience members feel like they are watching a new Greenshow but also feel nostalgia hearing the folk songs and stories of the past.

The Festival: Why should people come see The Greenshow?

Howe: The Greenshow is a community celebration. We offer three differently themed Greenshows, including the two I wrote plus Paiute Heritage and Celebration created by the local tribe. There’s something for everyone––humor, dance, music, and narrative.

In addition to the free daily Greenshows, the 2023 lineup of production include Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, A Raisin in the Sun, The Play That Goes Wrong, Timon of Athens, and Coriolanus. Tickets and information are available by calling 800-PLAYTIX or visiting

The Charismatic Character of Nick Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

By Liz Armstrong

This is the eleventh time that the Utah Shakespeare Festival has produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream––Shakespeare’s magical tale of fairies, lovers, mischief, and moonlight.

Topher Embrey as Nick Bottom in the Festival’s 2023 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Photo by Karl Hugh.

Perhaps the most humorous character in the production is Nick Bottom. Overly confident, dramatic, and self-assertive, Bottom believes himself to be the very best of the actors in the troup of mechanicals presenting a play-within-a-play. A fun and vibrant character, let’s take a look at who has taken on this iconic role throughout the years, as well as dive into what it’s like to play Bottom with current season’s actor Topher Embrey.

1964 - Paul Vorkink

1969 - Norman Langill

1973 - Derek Weeks

1978 - Gregory Leach

1986 - Irwin Appel

1993 - George Judy

1999 - Jay Russell

Jay Russell in the Festival’s 1999 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

2005 - John Tillotson

John Tillotson (left) as Bottom and Anne Newhall as Titania in the Festival’s 2005 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Photo by Karl Hugh.)

2011 - Max Robinson

Max Robinson as Nick Bottom in the Festival’s 2011 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Photo by Karl Hugh.)

2017 - James Newcomb

James Newcomb (left) as Nick Bottom and Melinda Parrett as Titania in the Festival’s 2017 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Photo by Karl Hugh.)

Topher Embrey on Playing Nick Bottom

This season, Bottom is played by actor Topher Embrey. He started acting in middle school, and his love for the 1982 film of Annie with Carol Burnett and Tim Curry inspired him to be an actor.

This is Embrey’s fifth production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and his second time playing Bottom. Embrey played the charismatic character on a 2019-2020 tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the American Shakespeare Festival.

Topher Embrey in the 2019-20 tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the American Shakespeare Center. Photo by Lauren Rogers Parker.

“The first character I played was Francis Flute/Thisbe, in high school, and I fell in love with the play,” Embrey said. “It was one of the plays that we had to read in high school, and it was interesting because there were fairies…Bottom’s head gets turned into a donkey…there are the lovers that quarrel!”

Embrey gets along well with Bottom’s character, as he finds similarities between the character and himself.

“My interpretation of Bottom is that he is very lovable and, like me, loves the attention,” Embrey laughed. “He wants to do it all, because he thinks he can do it all.”

Embrey finds Bottom especially comedic because he is overly confident, but likable because he still loves his friends. For Embrey and Director Jessica Kubzansky, the challenge with Bottom’s character was trying to find a happy medium in his presentation to the audience.

“The challenge was not making him the type of diva that people don’t love or root for,” Embrey said. “It’s important to make sure that Bottom is not the villain of the mechanicals. He’s a team player, just passionately so.”

Embrey wanted to find a middle ground of not overdoing Bottom’s character, but not underselling it either. For this actor, nothing is better than making people laugh.

“I know a lot of people are seeing The Play That Goes Wrong, but if you want to see the original play that goes wrong, you can see the play-within-a-play in Midsummer,” Embrey joked.

Embrey has been auditioning for the Festival since 2016, and is thrilled to be cast in the 2023 season.

“I’m so grateful to be here––I got to revisit one of my favorite characters in Shakespeare,” Embrey said. “And I got to work at one of the most prestigious regional theatres in the country.”

To see Embrey onstage playing Nick Bottom, visit or call 800-PLAYTIX to purchase tickets. In addition to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the 2023 lineup of productions include Romeo and Juliet, The Play That Goes Wrong, Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, A Raisin in the Sun, Timon of Athens, and Coriolanus.