Cedar City's Utah Shakespearean Festival has barely begun its 1998 summer season, but the company has already announced its line-up for 1999. King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Troilus and Cressida are on the bill, as are George Bernard Shaw's You Never Can Tell and James Goldman's The Lion In Winter.
The real surprise is that the season doesn't end after Labor Day. Two plays will come in Sept. 16-Oct. 16: The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) and Forever Plaid. Festival managing director R. Scott Phillips said in a statement that the additional four-weeks are the first step in making Utah Shakespearean Festival "a year-round theatre operation. It would be a lot easier and a lot cheaper to just continue the same six plays for a longer season than to add on the additional shows, however, there is a finite number of people who attend cultural events, and we want to be able to offer something new." The `99 season extension also allows audiences to enjoy the spectacular autumn scenery and moderate climate.
Not that adding two shows will be a simple matter for USF. Not only do they have to work through a busy summer season to design sets and costumes for Shkspr and Plaid, they'll have to cope with limited parking and other obstacles caused by the resumption of classes at nearby Southern Utah University.
Still, USF is happy to be growing rather than contracting, and grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts, which has promised up to a $100,000 in cash reserves for the company. Said USF development director Jyl Shuler, "It shows the trust they have in the Festival. They know we're in for the long haul, and we are a good investment..."
The NEA grant works as a two-year matching fund, with one government dollar matching every three raised by the Festival. In other words, USF has two years to raise $300,000, in order to get the full $100K from the NEA. For tickets to shows at the 37-year-old USF, write to Utah Shakespearean Festival, 351 West Center Street, UT 84720, check out their website (http://www.bard.org) or call (415) 586-7878 (beginning Sept. 8).
This season, USF is staging King John, All's Well That Ends Well and The Taming of the Shrew at the mainstage Adams space. Meanwhile, Romeo and Juliet,, Noel Coward's Relative Values and Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat play in the Randall Jones Theatre.
-- By David Lefkowitz