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Karl Hugh, Utah Shakespeare Festival
Fred Adams, left, visits the construction site of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts.
I think the idea of this new center, really terrific productions and then a kind of love letter farewell to the Adams Theater in its last season for us are all reasons particularly that make this season unique. —David Ivers

It's been 38 years since the Adams Shakespearean Theatre was dedicated at Southern Utah University — then Southern Utah State College — in Cedar City in 1977, and the venue has since housed thousands of performances of Utah Shakespeare Festival productions.

This summer, the festival and its audiences will bid the Adams Theatre farewell as it opens for its final season before productions are instead staged in the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Center for the Arts, which is due to be completed next year.

Brian Vaughn, one of USF's two artistic directors, said construction for the new facilities is moving along swiftly and things "look great for 2016."

Amid the excitement, he said, he considers himself fortunate to be directing one of the Adams Theatre's final productions and acting in another.

"I feel particularly lucky in many ways that both of my shows are out in that space," he said. "It’s been bittersweet and touching, as well as very exciting, to know what’s on the horizon for the organization and to know that next season we will be performing in a new venue that’s going to give our patrons a great deal of comfort and accessibility to the work.”

USF's other artistic director, David Ivers, said he's also looking forward to the new venue but that the upcoming season has plenty to keep theatergoers occupied for now.

"I think we’re poised to have all six shows and three new, revamped Greenshows ready for the public in a really thrilling way," he said. "I think the idea of this new center, really terrific productions and then a kind of love letter farewell to the Adams Theater in its last season for us are all reasons particularly that make this season unique.”

Vaughn said the 2015 summer season, which opens June 25 and runs through Sept. 5, offers "something for everybody," not only in the plays but also in its Greenshows, seminars, orientations and tours. Attending the festival can also be a great option for those who are visiting other parts of southern Utah, he added.

"It’s right at this sort of crossroads for all these national parks," he said. "It’s really a fabulous vacation destination for people that want to both unwind and be enriched culturally."

Vaughn and Ivers are each pulling double-duty by acting in one production and directing another, in addition to their work as artistic directors.

Following is a list of the plays that are being offered this summer as well as information on each, including dates, times, locations, ticket prices and content advisories, compiled from the festival's website at bard.org.

'Amadeus'

In Peter Shaffer's "Amadeus," Antonio Salieri is an Austrian court composer in the late 18th century. With dreams of becoming famous, he promises God that he will honor him with music if his wish becomes reality.

Upon meeting Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Vienna, Salieri is conflicted that a loathsome man such as Mozart should be able to create such beautiful music. He feels that God has betrayed him by favoring Mozart with such musical genius and decides to seek revenge by doing all he can to ruin every aspect of Mozart’s existence, including his music, love, fortune and, possibly, his life itself.

“It's both thrilling and operatic," said Ivers, who is playing Salieri. "Even in midst of his revenge, he’s constantly aware of how much he loves and is in love with the product and the music that Mozart has composed. That agony of wanting to destroy what you love is very humbling and challenging to approach as an actor.”

Runs: June 25-Sept. 5

Showtimes: Days vary Monday through Saturday, with matinee performances at 2 p.m. and evening performances at 8 p.m.

Location: Randall L. Jones Theatre

Price: $32-$69 Monday-Wednesday, $36-$73 Thursday-Saturday

Content advisory: According to the festival's website, the show "is suitable for most audiences except some preteens. It contains adult language and situations."

'The Taming of the Shrew'

Baptista Minola of Padua won’t let his daughter Bianca marry unless someone first marries his older daughter, Katherine, or Kate, who has a terrible temper. Petruchio arrives and decides he will marry Kate, but she doesn’t make it easy for him despite his kindest efforts.

Petruchio turns the tables on Kate, giving her a taste of her own medicine not just at their wedding but also after they’ve arrived at home. As time passes and the charade continues, Kate’s heart and behavior begin to change.

Whether the change has lasting power remains to be seen as Kate and Petruchio head for a visit to her father’s house.

Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" was performed during USF's inaugural season in 1962, according to the festival's website, and Vaughn said it's the most-produced play at USF.

He will play the role of Petruchio opposite his wife, Melinda Pfundstein, as Kate.

"It’s sort of like the battle of the sexes, and to be doing it with your wife is a lot of fun," he said. "Also, it’s great that we have our already built-in level of trust so that we can really explore these roles together. It’s been a real kick. I think audiences are really going to enjoy it.”

Runs: June 25-Sept. 5

Showtimes: Days vary Monday through Saturday for evening performances at 8 p.m., and days vary Thursday through Saturday for matinee performances at 2 p.m.

Location: Adams Shakespearean Theatre, with matinee peformances in the Auditorium Theatre

Price: $32-$69 Monday-Wednesday, $36-$73 Thursday-Saturday; matinees $32-$64

Content advisory: The show is suitable for most audiences but "does contain the Bard’s usual innuendo and double entendres and some violence," according to the festival's website.

'Charley's Aunt'

Oxford University students Jack Chesney and Charley Wykeham want to express their feelings and become engaged to the girls they love, but they lack an opportunity — that is, a chaperone, as it's 1892 — until Charley’s aunt is set to visit and the boys arrange a luncheon to bring them together.

But when the aunt’s arrival is postponed and the picnic is jeopardized, the boys’ friend Babbs is made to masquerade as the aunt, and things become even more complicated with the arrival of both Jack’s father and Stephen Spettigue, of whom one of the girls is a ward and the other a niece. And then the real aunt arrives, bringing a sense of humor and a traveling companion that take things ever further.

Ivers is directing the play by Brandon Thomas, and he says it is rich in both optimism and entertainment value.

"Finding the hilarity requires a lot of rehearsal and a lot of virtuosity to make it look like it’s happening for first time every day," he said. "We’ve got a great cast, and it’s been really fun.”

Runs: June 25-Oct. 31

Showtimes: Days vary Monday through Saturday, with matinee performances at 2 p.m. and evening performances at 8 p.m.

Location: Randall L. Jones Theatre

Price: $32-$69 Monday-Wednesday, $36-$73 Thursday-Saturday

Content advisory: According to the festival's website, the show is suitable for all audiences.

'Henry IV Part Two'

King Henry IV’s forces are triumphing over the rebels, and the Earl of Northumberland is scrambling for allies to help fend off the king’s approaching army, and then for a way to escape.

With Northumberland’s flight, the rebels reach an agreement with John of Lancaster, son of the king and brother to Prince Hal, which ends the war, though the prince doesn’t hold true to his word.

As the ill and war-weary King Henry IV lies dying, Prince Hal, who has been living a life of debauchery under the encouragement of his friend Falstaff, arrives in time for a reconciliation with and instruction from his father.

As Prince Hal becomes King Henry V, it’s apparent he’s changed in ways beyond his title.

“It’s sort of a family drama meets political intrigue," said Vaughn, who is directing the production and also directed "Henry IV Part One" last year. "It’s very much like a lot of serial drama like we might see on television today, like 'Game of Thrones,' 'Wolf Hall,' that are these sort of epic dramas played out over time.”

Vaughn recommends the production for everyone, including those who missed seeing "Part One" in the 2014 season.

"That’s sort of the beauty of Shakespeare is that he also kind of brings everybody up to speed in the first moments of the play about where we left off last," he said.

Runs: June 26-Sept. 5

Showtimes: Days vary Monday through Saturday, with all performances at 8 p.m.

Location: Adams Shakespearean Theatre

Price: $32-$69 Monday-Wednesday, $36-$73 Thursday-Saturday

Content advisory: The show is suitable for most audiences but "does contain the Bard’s usual innuendo and double entendres and some violence," according to the festival's website.

'South Pacific'

Themes of prejudice and war form the backdrop of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical “South Pacific,” in which a U.S. Navy nurse named Nellie Forbush finds herself falling for French expatriate and plantation owner Emile de Becque. When she learns of his two mixed-race children, however, she leaves. But as the war puts Emile’s life into danger and as Nellie spends time with his children, she finds herself re-examining her feelings.

“It’s actually a quite powerful musical that revolves around tolerance and love during World War II, and it’s a fabulous piece, both humorous and whimsical and also very profound and moving, and I think has great significance for where we are currently,” Vaughn said.

Runs: June 27-Sept. 4

Showtimes: Days vary Monday through Saturday, with matinee performances at 2 p.m. and evening performances at 8 p.m.

Location: Randall L. Jones Theatre

Price: $36-$73 Monday-Wednesday, $40-$77 Thursday-Saturday

Content advisory: According to the festival's website, the show is suitable for most audiences and "follows the same plot and contains the same themes as the popular 1958 movie."

'King Lear'

King Lear of Britain disinherits his youngest daughter, Cordelia, when she refuses to publicly declare her love for him, and splits his kingdom between her two older sisters, Goneril and Regan. The earl of Kent, who spoke up on her behalf, is banished, and Cordelia flees and marries the king of France.

Kent makes his way in disguise back to Lear, who is finding things unpleasant with his two older daughters, whose proclamations of love now appear doubtful. Meanwhile, the earl of Gloucester falls prey to a scheme at the hands of his wicked son, Edmund, that turns him against his other son and heir, Edgar.

Several more disguises, insults, intrigues and attacks are put into play among those remaining in England, and Cordelia returns with France’s armies to wage war on her sisters. Edmund gains control over the English army and defeats the French, and opportunities for repentance and reconciliation are available for many of those who remain — if death doesn’t reach them first.

“'King Lear' is probably one of the most powerful tragedies ever written, and it’s certainly relevant for our time as far as what it says about parenting as well as old age and what that means, to grow old," Vaughn said of the Shakespeare play.

Playing King Lear is Tony Amendola, known for TV and film roles including his role as Geppetto/Marco in the ABC series "Once Upon a Time."

"He’s a fabulous classical actor, and it’s been a real treat to have him in our company," Vaughn said. "He’s giving a searing portrayal of the title role, so it’s kind of a must-see this season."

Runs: June 27-Sept. 4

Showtimes: Days vary Monday through Saturday, with all performances at 8 p.m.

Location: Adams Shakespearean Theatre

Price: $32-$69 Monday-Wednesday, $36-$73 Thursday-Saturday

Content advisory: The show is suitable for most audiences but "does contain the Bard’s usual innuendo and double entendres and some violence," according to the festival's website.

If you go ...

What: Utah Shakespeare Festival summer season

When: June 25-Sept. 5, production days and times vary

Where: 299 W. Center, Cedar City

How much: Prices vary by show and event

Phone: 435-586-7878

Web: bard.org