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CEDAR CITY -- The Utah Shakespearean Festival opens its 2010 season with great expectations -- not only of increased ticket sales, but with a world premiere based on Charles Dickens' novel "Great Expectations."
Directors, actors and managers are calling this year's festival a season of classics. The six productions reflect themes of pride and forgiveness.
But as this arts organization approaches its 50th anniversary, everyone is also planning for the future.
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First center stage and now management, David Ivers will no longer simply spend the summer in Cedar City -- he and his family now live there; He's one of two new festival artistic directors.
"We're not looking at this as a two-year thing," Ivers said. "We are committed and involved and want to be here for the long haul."
Ivers and Brian Vaughn remain festival favorites as actors and directors. They say their participation has given them insight into assuring the festival's future success.
"It's an amazing place, it really is," Vaughn said. "I feel fortunate to work here every summer, so to know now that I'm stepping into this other position is truly a dream come true."
Fred Adams, founder of the Utah Shakespearean Festival, said, "They are the Utah Shakespearean Festival's life insurance."
So are veteran actors of stage and screen. Ellen Crawford plays Miss Havisham in the world premiere of "Great Expectations, The Musical." You have seen her in "ER," "Desperate Housewives" and "Boston Legal." She loves southern Utah and shared the experience with her mother some years ago.
"When we were driving back for her burial, in fact, we came through here because we wanted to come through all of her very favorite places," Crawford said. "So I got to show my husband this and he loved it. So, what's not to like?"They are all hoping audiences feel the same as the festival approaches it half-century mark.
Executive Director of the Utah Shakespearean Festival R. Scott Phillips said, "It's hard to believe that and we are so fortunate to still have the founder of this festival with us and very actively involved, not only with what we're doing now but planning for the future."
The summer season runs through Sept. 4 and the fall season's three plays open Sept. 16. CLICK HERE for more information.