“To be, or not to be…” If this phrase rings a bell, it’s probably because it’s one of the most recognizable quotes taken directly from Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. Since grade school, most of us have been lucky enough to study the work of Shakespeare. But whether it was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, or Macbeth that ignited our passion for Shakespearian literature, one thing’s for sure—the man sure knows how to put on a lively performance.

And lucky for us, the annual Utah Shakespeare Festival, which earned the coveted Tony Award for America’s Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2000, is less than one month away! Now garnering the attention of nearly 130,000 audience members from around the country, the Festival promises to impress even Shakespeare’s closest of followers.

Wondering what’s in store for 2015? Take a look at some of the most highly anticipated performances of the year, as well as several special events.

  1. The Taming of the Shrew
    Plotline: Kicking off the Festival from June 25 to September 5 is a classic Shakespeare comedy that touches on deceit and the idea of romance and courtship in the early 1500s. The performance depicts the dysfunctional and chaotic courtship between Petruchio and his strong-hearted lady Katherina. And with plenty of humor and wit injected throughout the play, this performance is perfect for audience members that are looking for a more light-hearted evening of entertainment and laughter. Click here to learn more.
    Who Should See It: While The Taming of the Shrew is suitable for most audiences, it is recommended that children ages 13 and older attend.
    Venue: Adams Shakespearean Theatre | 299 W Center St, Cedar City, UT, 84720
  1. Henry IV Part Two
    Plotline: Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part Two is next to take center stage. Following last season’s showing of Part One, this year’s performance is filled to the brim with drama as Prince Hal embarks on his journey toward kingship. But what’s one to do when faced with the harsh realities of responsibility and power? Will Prince Hal face his impending reality, or will he turn to a world of fantasy and denial? Find out by attending one of the performances from June 26 to September 5.
    Who Should see it: While there is minor violence, Henry IV Part Two is suitable for most audiences. It is recommended that children ages 13 and older attend.
    Venue: Adams Shakespearean Theatre | 299 W Center St, Cedar City, UT, 84720
  1. King Lear
    Plotline: From June 27 to September 4 King Lear, a classic Shakespeare tragedy, makes its debut. Long story short, King Lear descends into madness after letting his three daughters run his estate—with plenty of family rivalry and a whole lot of drama to entertain guests. But while the play has a darker plotline, it seeps conflict and entertainment throughout. Click here to learn more about this play before attending.
    Who Should See It: While there is brief violence and some double entendres, King Lear is suitable for most audiences. It is recommended that children ages 13 and older attend.
    Venue: Adams Shakespearean Theatre | 299 W Center St, Cedar City, UT, 84720

The eight-play 2015 season (June 25 through October 31) also includes Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, Brandon Thomas’ Charley’s Aunt, and Steven Dietz’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Beyond the Stage

In addition to the performances, there are several special events to enjoy during the Festival that are either free or require a special ticket. Unwind before the play at The Greenshow, a free thirty-minute frolic of song, dance, laughter, Elizabeth sweets, peek behind the scenery and into the Festival’s various production areas with a special Backstage Tour ticket, attend a literary seminar or production seminar, get orientated before the play with a informative orientation by theatre experts or purchase tickets for a Curtain Call Luncheon with Festival actors and artists.

For one night only, you can attend Bardway, Baby!, a late-night concert event featuring classic Broadway show tunes performed by Festival actors. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased here. Bardway, Baby! takes place on August 7 at 11:30 pm in the Auditorium Theatre.

Complete-the-Canon Challenge

Did you know that the Utah Shakespeare Festival has embarked on an initiative to produce the entire canon of Shakespeare’s 38 plays between 2012 and 2023? What’s more, the Festival is producing all ten of Shakespeare’s history plays in chronological order. Want to take the Canon Challenge and attend all 38 plays? Download a checklist and start marking your progress!


The Utah Shakespeare Festival takes place at Southern Utah University in Cedar City. The Shakespeare plays are usually performed in the outdoor Adams Shakespearean Theatre, which is modeled after Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The other plays are performed on an indoor proscenium stage, the Randall L. Jones Theatre. Parking is available near both theatres for Festival attendees. When the Southern Utah University parking lot north fills there is usually ample parking on the northwest corner of 300 West and Center Street (north of Center Street/University Boulevard). It is open at all times, and Festival guests may park there without a permit.

To learn more about the Utah Shakespeare Festival, visit bard.org.

Featured photo by twbuckner via flickr