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Robert Peterson

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As homegrown Utah actors go, Robert Peterson stood a notch above the rest.

Not just because he made it big on a national stage, but primarily because once fame had come his way he returned home to help cultivate the development of the arts in Utah.

Largely because of Robert Peterson, Utah can lay claim to being a sophisticated venue for broadway-type stage productions and theatrical extravaganzas.

Peterson’s death of a heart attack this week at his home in St. George at the relatively young age of 71, leaves an enormous void in Utah’s cultural life.

He gained national acclaim more than 40-years ago as Lancelot in the original Broadway production of Camelot. It is said he played the dashing knight a thousand times over the years. Later, he transformed into the noble Arthur and eventually, the befuddled Pellinore. Utah audiences, though, will remember him as much for his portrayal of Cervantes/Quixote in Man of La Mancha. His inspiring rendition of The Impossible Dream, especially last summer at the Utah Shakespearean Festival, always brought down the house.

From his New York debut in 1961 to his final curtain call just months ago in Cedar City, Robert Peterson followed an extraordinary personal dream. Along the way, he helped generations of Utahns discover the magnificence of quality musical theater.

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