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Utah Shakespeare Festival returning to Cedar City in 2021 after COVID-19 pandemic hiatus

The Utah Shakespeare Festival opens this week with favorite and familiar Shakespeare plays, a play based on an Academy-award winning film, gamblers and pirates. Photo: KSL TV

(KSL TV file)

CEDAR CITY — The Utah Shakespeare Festival is back on for 2021 in Cedar City after skipping 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Festival organizers announced Thursday that they reached an agreement with the actors union for the event, which will allow the festival to return to the stage this summer.

"I've never been more excited," the festival's executive director Frank Mack told KSL. "It is an awesome feeling to be coming back."

Starting June 21, the festival will stage eight shows, including "Pericles," "Richard III," "The Comedy of Errors," "The Pirates of Penzance," "Ragtime," "Cymbeline," "Intimate Apparel" and "The Comedy of Terrors." The season will continue through Oct. 9.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival's 2021 season will be its 60th and will be dedicated to Fred C. Adams, the founder of the festival who died last year at age 89.

The Actors' Equity Association, which represents professional actors and stage managers in the United States, approved the Shakespeare festival's safety plan, and actors signed the union's contract this week.

"We are absolutely good to go," Mack said. "It is the last piece of the puzzle we need to put in place so that we can have a fantastic 2021 season."

The safety measures for the 2021 festival include a fully vaccinated company, Mack said. All actors and people involved with the productions will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the time the shows start, he added. COVID-19 testing will also be provided for the festival company through Nomi Health, the news release says.

Since they'll be vaccinated, actors will be able to perform the shows unmasked, Mack said. Audience members will still be required to wear masks in theaters and other performance spaces but will not need to socially distance, he said.

Concessions won't be served during the festival, since people need to remove their masks to eat or drink. Theaters, seats and other high-traffic areas will be sanitized regularly, the release says.

"The staff of the Utah Shakespeare Festival has been working with the staff at Actors' Equity Association for two months to find a way that we can create the work on our stages in a way that actors, artisans, technicians, and audiences all stay safe," festival general manager Kami Terry Paul said in the release. "We now have that plan and will begin implementing it immediately."

As it was for everyone else, 2020 was a difficult year for the Utah Shakespeare Festival staff, Mack said. He recalled walking around Cedar City on beautiful summer days last year and seeing empty spaces where there would be 1,500 festival-goers in a normal year.

"We found it's much harder not to produce theater," Mack said. "Last summer was really painful."

Mack said he is more excited about the 2021 season than ever before.

"It will just be a great feeling," he said. "It will be exciting. It will be fun like never before."

More information about the festival is available at

Contributing: Marc Weaver, KSL TV

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