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CEDAR CITY -- The Utah Shakespearean Festival opened this week, but not without some cutbacks in this economy.
As the words of William Shakespeare echo once again in southern Utah, they do so during a challenging time for all of Utah's arts organizations. The economic downturn has affected both ticket sales and contributions here.
"We cut nearly three-quarters of a million dollars out of our budget, we eliminated about 55 seasonal positions, and we had to change some of the rehearsal and performance process," said the festival's executive director, R. Scott Phillips.
On this 20th anniversary of the indoor Randall Theatre, the festival welcomes Joyce Cohen, a favorite with Salt Lake audiences, to the play "Foxfire." She calls working here "actor heaven."
"It's a terrific challenge and very exciting, and I think exciting for the community," Cohen said. "They're all so different, and it's like a feast. So, it's a feast for an actor, but I think it's really a feast for somebody who sees them."
Then there's family-friendly "The Secret Garden." One of the young leads gives credit to his fellow actors.
"They're great. They teach me a lot. Like, the loving and support that we all give each other, it's just amazing. There really is magic," said actor Talon Ackerman.
But the bottom line here comes from understanding what role arts and entertainment play in people's lives.
"This is the third recession that the Utah Shakespearean Festival has experienced, and in every one of them we have discovered that our patrons, no matter how the economy is, they still want, you could call it ‘escape,'" said Fred Adams, founder of the Utah Shakespearian Festival.
As always, there are six productions running on two stages throughout the summer. For more information on those shows, ticket availability and prices, visit the festival's website at www.bard.org.