CEDAR CITY — I was lucky enough to spend the past week in Cedar City.

Yes, it was part work — after all, someone has to review the latest offerings at the Utah Shakespearean Festival — but the other part was pure joy.

I love the festival. I'd threaten for years to head down. Then suddenly summer would be gone, the air would get cooler and the season would close — without me attending.

But once I finally made that first three-hour drive to Cedar City, I was hooked, and I haven't missed a season since. It's an amazing festival, with tremendous talent, and it's in our own backyard. Thank you, Fred C. Adams!

Sitting outside on a beautiful, still evening enjoying the Green Show, I found it remarkable that one man's vision turned into all of this.

Dancing and music set the mood as the performers entertained the crowd. Families gathered on blankets; some stood; kids rolled on the grass; others milled about; some, like me, made their way to the concessions stand to seek out a fresh tart.

"Lollies and sweets — a fountain of youth on a stick!" shouted one blond lady dressed in period costume, roaming the grounds with a basket of goodies.

I was on the lookout for the man with the tarts. Wearing buckle shoes, knee socks and a shirt with puffed sleeves, he bellowed, "Every tart eaten outside has no calories!"

Well, sign me up. I like the raspberry tarts.

All that before you even sit down to see a show.

Add to this an amazing performance, such as Brian Vaughn in "Cyrano de Bergerac," or Matthew Henerson in "Fiddler on the Roof." It's truly remarkable we have anything like it in little Cedar City, Utah.

The festival is family friendly, and Cedar City is a walkable, stroller-friendly town that comes alive with color and Shakespearean vibe.

Go to the festival this year. It's worth the drive.

Other theater news ...

Runner-ups run: If you were never thrilled with America's choice in "Grease: You're the One That I Want" reality show, which casted the roles of Danny and Sandy, the runners-up will now have their shot. Second-place Sandy, Ashley Spencer, and third runner-up Derek Keeling will join the cast July 22.

A "Catered" closing: The Tony Awards are a funny thing. After they come and go, you'll notice many shows come and go. Some simply can't survive if they don't win. Such was the case with "Cry Baby" and now with Harvey Fierstein's "A Catered Affair." It closes July 27 after 116 regular performances.

Bebe and Lane: Yes, it's true. Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane will be doing a reading of "The Addams Family" musical. Casting has not been announced for the Broadway production, which will open in New York during the 2009-10 season.

Let's all snap together!


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