Karl Hugh, Utah Shakespeare Festival
CEDAR CITY — The stormy skies in Cedar City on the Fourth of July allowed for a bit of realism to Shakespeare's "The Tempest," one of the offerings at the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
Since the play begins with a shipwreck amid stormy seas, the drizzling from the evening sky seemed perfectly appropriate; fun, even.
That is until three-quarters of the way through Act I, when the skies opened up. Audience members ran for cover and the actors were told to exit the stage.
With as many shows as I've seen in the outdoor Adams Shakespearean Theatre, this was the first time I've needed my rain-seat number. The staff efficiently moved all patrons into the neighboring indoor space, holding umbrellas out for those of us a bit less brave.
The show got under way exactly where we left off. But just as it got going again, it was time for intermission. At this point, the storm had passed and we were told to return to our seats in the outdoor theater for Act II.
All that said, the cast did a wonderful job staying in their moment and the staff did a terrific job shepherding us back and forth.
But it did slow the flow a bit and made for a longer evening.
There are some really great things happening in this production, under the direction of B.J. Jones. First of all, it's beautiful. The costumes (David Kay Mickelsen) and set (Robert Mark Morgan) make for an airy, magical island. And there are some pretty magical how'd-they-do-that special effects.
Jones also incorporated some beautiful music (Michael Gribbin, music director) throughout the show with an especially haunting melody sung by Ariel (Melinda Parrett), a dainty spirit and Prospero's helper. The music adds an ethereal level, making the mystical setting that much more believable.
Henry Woronicz is stately as Prospero, bringing nice warmth to the role. Parrett is wonderfully light on her feet as Ariel. And both James Newcomb (Stephano) and Corey Jones (Caliban) do wonderful portrayals of their respective roles and have a nice rapport.
The stormy night and stormy seas in the play could not dampen the ultimate message of love and forgiveness. And the Fourth of July audience didn't seem to mind being a little bit wet.
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