Utah Shakespeare Festival announces 2018 season

In this 2016 file photo, guests are covered in confetti during the dedication of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, Cedar City, Utah, July 7, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — As part of its opening week celebrations for the 2017 season, the Utah Shakespeare Festival has announced its 2018 season lineup. The 57th season, which will be presented from June 28 through Oct. 20, 2018, will include eight plays in three theaters.

“Among other themes, our 2018 season provides a unique examination of intolerance and the adverse impact it can have on our collective humanity,” artistic director Brian Vaughn said.

“With four diverse Shakespeare offerings, including the next in our history cycle, a world-premiere musical centered around one of the world’s most iconic figures, two delightful classic and contemporary comedies, and a Tony Award-winning musical based on one of the most controversial novels of our time, this season promises to resonate on all levels.”

The Engelstad Shakespeare Theater

The Engelstad Shakespeare Theater will feature three plays by the Shakespeare, including “Henry VI Part One,” which continues the festival’s history cycle of producing all ten of Shakespeare’s history plays in chronological order. In addition, “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and “The Merchant of Venice” will give guests the chance to check off two more plays in the festival’s “Complete the Canon Project,” an ongoing initiative to produce the entire Shakespeare canon of 38 plays between 2012 and 2023.

“Henry VI Part One”

Henry V has died, and his young son is soon crowned Henry VI. In France, war is raging. At home, various factions are claiming the right to the throne, choosing between the symbolic red and white roses. In this seldom produced history, Shakespeare gathers these threads together and combines them into a powerful tapestry of a country soon to be racked by civil war.

“The Merry Wives of Windsor”

Falstaff in love? Hardly! But the loveable old renegade does have his lusty eye on a couple of middle-class housewives. Trouble is feminine wit and wisdom triumph once again as the amused and annoyed wives teach Sir John a lesson in this bubbling, popular comedy sure to please everyone in the family.

“The Merchant of Venice”

Whether you consider this thought-provoking masterpiece a story of love and humor or one of racism and greed, Shakespeare’s controversial tragicomedy will touch your soul. Its modern and relevant themes and memorable characters could have been drawn from today’s headlines and will certainly cause you to pause and think about justice and mercy, the complexity of humankind and the nature of forgiveness and love.

The Randall L. Jones Theater

Plays next year in the Randall L. Jones Theater will include “Big River,” a popular musical based on classic American literature; “The Liar,” a hilarious French farce newly translated into English; and the return to the Utah Shakespeare Festival of one of America’s most popular comedies, “The Foreigner.”

“Big River”

Book by William Hauptman with music and lyrics by Roger Miller

Mark Twain’s timeless classic sweeps us down the mighty Mississippi as the irrepressible Huck Finn helps his friend Jim, a slave, escape to freedom. Their adventures along the way are hilarious, suspenseful and heart-warming, bringing to life your favorite characters from the novel and leaving you humming tunes such as “River in the Rain,” “Worlds Apart” and the rousing anthem “Free at Last.”

“The Liar”

By David Ives, adapted from “Le Menteur” by Pierre Corneille

The charming Dorante cannot tell the truth, and his manservant Clinton cannot tell a lie. From this simple premise springs one of the western world’s greatest comedies, a sparkling 17th century French farce brilliantly adapted for today, complete with mistaken lovers, suspicious fathers, sparkling romance, frothy comedy and an abundance of breathtakingly intricate “alternative facts.”

“The Foreigner”

By Larry Shue

Charlie, shy and seeking solitude, is on vacation at a Georgia hunting lodge. Avoiding the other guests, he pretends he is a foreigner, understanding no English. However, he soon witnesses bizarre schemes by people who think he can’t understand a word they say, leading to confusion and nonstop hilarity that set up one of the funniest endings in all of theater.

The Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theater

The plays in the Anes Studio Theater will offer a combination of the old and the new, with “Othello” (another play in the festival’s Complete the Canon Project) and the world premiere of “Pearl’s in the House,” which is being workshopped at the festival in 2017 as part of the “Words Cubed” new play program.

“Othello”

Brimming with incredible passion and anguish, as well as very human tenderness, this tragic story will lure you into a powerful world of jealousy and betrayal. Fast moving and devastating, “Othello” is one of Shakespeare’s most haunting plays, exploring how fear and jealousy can destroy the most intelligent minds and the purest of loves.

“Pearl’s in the House”

By Art Manke

This musical play focuses on Pearl Bailey, performer and special delegate to the United Nations in a racially charged mid-20th century America. Bailey was a trailblazer for African-American women; yet a talk-show host in 1987 questions many of her motives. So Bailey responds the only way she knows how – through her music.

“With four fantastic Shakespeare classics and a world premiere musical, not to mention three other iconic works of theater, we could not be more excited to share these productions with our audiences,” Joshua Stavros, media and public relations director said. “We hope you will join us.”

Tickets for the 57th annual Utah Shakespeare Festival season go on sale July 15. To purchase tickets or for more information 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.

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