Author: Russell Warne

Too slow and uneven for this show to be AS YOU LIKE IT

CEDAR CITY — Often in Shakespeare‘s plays, people leave their home to attempt to escape their problems. As You Like It turns this idea on its head by forcing its characters into exile and having the dysfunction of human society recreated in the forest. Likewise, the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s initiative to produce every Shakespeare play makes As You Like It is part of the 2017 season, but despite the cast and crew’s attempts to create an light, frothy evening of theatre, they can’t escape from the unevenness of the script. As You Like It tells the story of young Orlando...

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SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is “a very palpable hit”

CEDAR CITY — Shakespeare in Love is a love letter to William Shakespeare. Packed with references to several works of the Shakespeare canon (including Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Macbeth, Titus Andronicus, the Henry VI tetralogy, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, and the sonnets), Shakespeare aficionados will find plenty of goodies in this show. Yet, it is not necessary to be an armchair literary scholar to enjoy Shakespeare in Love. Almost anyone with a passing interest in Shakespeare’s work can enjoy this backstage comedy. Adapted by Lee Hall from the screenplay by Marc Norman and...

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Slumber not at A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM in Cedar City

CEDAR CITY — With A Midsummer Night’s Dream being the most popular non-musical play in Utah, the challenge for any local company is to strike a careful balance. If a production is too avant-garde, the audience feels alienated; make the show too familiar, and it feels staid and pointless. Impressively, the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the perfect mix of innovation and convention with broad appeal for neophytes and Shakespeare veterans. One way in which director Kirsten Brandt created a new Midsummer was by injecting a touch of sensuality into the production, such as when Oberton...

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Utah Shakespeare’s GUYS and DOLLS is a safe bet

CEDAR CITY — For readers’ musical theatre needs, I’ve got the horse right here, and it’s the Utah Shakespeare Festival production of Guys and Dolls. In classical musical comedy fashion, Guys and Dolls tells the story of two romantic couples. Gangster Nathan Detroit has problems in his professional and private life. Professionally, he needs to find a place to host his illegal craps game. Personally, his fiancée of 14 years, Adelaide, is pressuring him to get married. To raise the money to rent a location for his craps game, Nathan places a bet with master gambler Sky Masterson that...

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Arts education does NOT raise academic achievement (and that’s OK)

In my day job as an educational psychologist, I read over 300 scholarly articles and books per year. A lot of these discuss how to raise academic achievement (i.e., grades, test scores) in children. But because of my moonlighting gig as a theatre critic, a new article grabbed my attention. Titled “Does Participation in Music and Performing Arts Influence Child Development?”, the article was written by E. Michael Foster (University of Alabama at Birmingham) and Jade V. Marcus Jenkins (University of California, Irvine). Much to the dismay of many UTBA readers, the answer to the article’s title question is “no.”...

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