Sunday, July 27, 2008

Utah Shakespearean Festival

My husband and I had the pleasure of spending last weekend in Cedar City with our dear friends Nate and Marie, who took us to the Tony Award Winning Utah Shakespearean Festival. I've been talking about going to the festival for some time now (I was last there in 1996 - over a decade ago), and I guess Marie finally felt it was time for us to attend (she and her husband graciously paid for us to see one of the plays). Marie has a degree in English, and actually did her Master's thesis on Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. Let me tell you, there is no one better to see a Shakespeare play with than Miss Marie! She posted a review of all the plays on her blog recently, so without taking away from what she wrote I will attempt my own reviews of the two plays we saw: The Taming of the Shrew and Cyrano de Bergerac. I hope you will read both sets of reviews and enjoy them equally from our different perspectives. The Taming of the Shrew
Easily one of Shakespeare's most controversial plays; if done wrong, this play could potentially offend half of your audience (meaning the female half). However, I was not offended or disappointed with anything about this production, and found myself spontaneously laughing out-loud through several parts. The play was staged in Italy near the end of World War II, and portrays the hero Petruchio as a self-assured U.S. Army Captain, and the heroine Kate as a feisty local Italian woman. The courtship scenes were very well choreographed, integrating witty dialogue with a fair amount of slapstick humor. Throw in Shakespeare's trademark mistaken identities, bawdy romance, and a hilarious supporting cast, and you have one fabulous comedy! I have it on the best authority that this was the best Shakespeare production at the festival this year,
and I do not doubt it, for I have rarely seen Shakespeare done better.

"Our purses shall be proud, our garments poor, For 'tis the mind that makes the body rich."
Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac
tells the dramatic story of the star-crossed and dashing swashbuckler Cyrano, and his love for the beautiful and educated Roxane. Fearing that she will reject him because of his large and unsightly nose, Cyrano aids the "comely yet stupid" soldier Christian, by sending love letters and whispering poetry to Roxane at her balcony window (which was the best and most romantic scene I have ever witnessed at the theater). It isn't until years later when Christian is dead and Roxane is alone in a convent, that she learns her admirer was really Cyrano. Every emotion and sentiment are beautifully expressed in this play: loyalty, humor, wit, lust, heartbreak, "panache", friendship, longing, and of course unconditional love. I was completely undone by the superb acting (the actors who portrayed Cyrano and Roxane are actually married), lavish period costumes, and a wonderful classic story. Don't forget to bring a box of tissues to the performance, as you are sure to love this outstanding play as much as I did!

"My wit is more polished than your mustache. The truth which I speak strikes more sparks from men's hearts than your spurs do from the cobblestones."

If any of you cupcakes have the chance, I hope you make a trip down to southern Utah to see the acclaimed Shakespeare Festival. Looking over the play roster for the 2009 season, I think my husband and I might go back: As You Like It, Henry V and The Secret Garden are all playing, and promise to be great fun. (The festival also boasts an excellent licensed day care if you have children.) Happy viewing!


Heidi and Jason said...

That looks like so much fun! I bet all the costumes were amazing. That's my favorite part :)

Christopher, Emily and Bennett said...

Oh Megan. I'm green with envy. I had a trip planned this year and then we had a Florida trip come up for work and went there instead. Cyrano was my #1 choice and I am so very sad to have missed it. I have gone to the Festival every year for the past five. There is nothing like it. Broadway quality, sometimes beyond. You lucky gal!! I'm already planning my trip for next year!!

Marie said...

Hear, hear!! I love your reviews, Megan, and I'm so glad that we were able to go with you. There's nothing better than good theatre and then excellent discussion afterwards!