CEDAR CITY, UT — They arrived Monday, May 14.

They traveled here, nearly 300 strong, from New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, and other cities across the country and even around the world. They will be here from eight weeks to five months, depending on their job and their contract. They are the 2018 Utah Shakespeare Festival company of actors, directors, designers, stage managers, builders and creators—and they love being in Cedar City.

For instance, actor Lance Rasmussen calls Logan his hometown, but Cedar City is a type of second home for him. “My family has been seeing the Festival every year of my life,” he said. “I’ve seen 22 seasons and well over 100 plays at the Festival and consider Cedar City my artistic home and the impetus of my career as an actor.”

Tyler Morgan, Festival marketing and communications director, who is enjoying his first summer working at the Festival, said the feeling is shared by the Cedar City and Iron County communities. “This is a chance for our community to shine and welcome,” he said. “The company members are excited; it feels fresh and new; and I think the community feels that too.”

“It is invigorating to see people greeting old friends,” added Frank Mack, executive producer, who is also working his first full season at the Festival. “There are visible friendships between artists and volunteers, townspeople and the company.”

While all these temporary residents are here, they will shop in our stores, live in our apartments, and dine in our restaurants. They will attend our celebrations and visit our museums, parks, and hiking trails. They will enjoy the amazing life that those of us who live here relish year-round. They will become part of our community.

“It feels like summer now,” said Brian Vaughn, artistic director. “There is a palpable energy, and a strong synergy between the company, our amazing volunteers, and the people of Cedar City.”

“The people of Cedar City love Shakespeare and theatre, and they love the actors and artists the Festival brings to the community,” said Morgan. “They welcome the company and enjoy seeing them around town and making them feel at home.”

By the time the last spotlight is dimmed and the last bows are taken in October, the work of these talented theatre professionals will have attracted 100,000 visitors to the fifty-seventh season of the Festival. And, all total, they will have been the impetus of an economic impact of more than $40 million for Cedar City.

“The economic impact of the Festival starts now,” said Mack. “We tend to think that the Festival starts to contribute to the economy when the tens of thousands of audience members begin to arrive in late June. But it really starts now, with nearly 300 men and women who are shopping in our stores, buying their groceries, and spending their time and money. These amazing people are now working and living in our community.”

“If the first day with the company here was a glimpse of what is to come, this will be an engaging, electrifying season that I hope will surpass everyone’s expectations,” concluded Morgan. “The day seems like a harbinger of things to come, of a taste of an amazing collaboration between the Festival company and the community that has welcomed them here.”

Tickets are now on sale for the Festival’s fifty-seventh season, which will run from June 28 to October 13. season will include The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry VI Part One, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Big River, The Foreigner, The Liar, and An Iliad. For more information and tickets visit www.bard.org or call 1-800-PLAYTIX.