Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Between the Backstage Tour and Pride and Prejudice we visited Cedar Breaks National Monument. There was construction going on at the visitor center with areas roped off. I last saw Cedar Breaks over 25 years ago and it was bigger than what I remember it. We didn’t have much time there but it was worth the drive. I did get a few photographs which you can click to enlarge.

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks, according to Wikipedia, is a natural amphitheater canyon, stretching across 3 miles, with a depth of over 2,000 feet. The elevation of the rim of the canyon is over 10,000 feet above sea level. The eroded rock of the canyon is similar to formations at Bryce Canyon National Park, but has its own distinct look. Because of its elevation, snow often makes it inaccessible to vehicles from October through May.

Cedar Breaks National Monument

The canyon-rim visitor center, tiny compared to the visitor centers at nearby and better-known Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, is open only from June through October, although park headquarters at a lower elevation in Zion is open the rest of the year. It is not as popular as some of the nearby National Parks, but several hundred thousand people do visit annually.

Cedar Breaks National Monument

I like this photograph, click here for a full resolution version (3 MB). The golden-mantled ground squirrel is a type of ground squirrel that lives in all types of forests across North America. It eats seeds, nuts, berries, insects, and underground fungi. It is preyed upon by hawks, jays, weasels, foxes, bobcats, and coyotes. A typical adult ranges from 9 to 12 inches in length. The Golden-mantled ground squirrel can be identified by its chipmunk-like stripes and coloration, but unlike chipmunks, it lacks any facial stripes. It is commonly found living in the same habitat as Uinta chipmunks.

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks was established in 1933. A small lodge, designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood and built and operated by the Utah Parks Company once existed near the south end of the monument, but it was razed in 1972. The Cedar Breaks Lodge was the smallest of the park lodges in the Southwest. It was deemed “uneconomical to operate” by the Park Service, but protests associated with its demolition caused the Park Service to re-examine its policies concerning lodges in other parks, contributing to their preservation. The monument includes Cedar Breaks Archeological District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Cedar Breaks National Monument
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Utah Shakespearean Festival: Adams Theatre Backstage Tour

Adams Shakespearean TheatreSo far I have written about The 39 Steps, Much Ado about Nothing, Pride and Prejudice, The Greenshow and the Randall Theatre Backstage Tour. The Adams Shakespearean Theatre Backstage Tour is just a continuation of the Randall Theatre Backstage Tour. The whole tour takes 90 minutes.

The Festival website states:

The Adams Shakespearean Theatre, dedicated in 1977, was designed by Douglas N. Cook, Festival producing artistic director, along with Max Anderson of the Utah State Building Board, and is patterned after drawings and research of sixteenth century Tudor stages. Experts say it is one of a few theatres that probably comes close to the design of the Globe Theatre in which Shakespeare’s plays were originally produced. It is so authentic, in fact, that the British Broadcasting Company filmed part of its Shakespeare series there. It is named for Grace Adams Tanner, a major benefactor of the Festival, and her parents, Thomas D. and Luella R. Adams. It seats 819, plus 66 gallery-bench or standing-room seats.

I took a few more photographs on this last leg of the tour. Backstage there is less room and little storage space compared with the Randall Theatre. There are plans for the New Shakespeare Theatre with a goal of completing the fundraising campaign in time to celebrate the Festival’s fiftieth anniversary season in 2011.

The new theatre, including the lobby, will be enclosed in a glass “shell” with a retractable roof to bring the outdoors into the theatre. I have included a photograph of a scale model of the theatre below.

Adams Shakespearean Theatre

Fog producing machine

Fog producing machine

Adams Theatre trapdoor

Adams Theatre trapdoor

Model of the New Shakespeare Theatre

Model of the New Shakespeare Theatre

Next: Cedar Breaks National Monument
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Utah Shakespearean Festival: Randall Theatre Backstage Tour

Randall Jones TheatreAfter The 39 Steps and Much Ado about Nothing but before Pride and Prejudice and The Greenshow, Jill and I toured the Randall L. Jones Theatre backstage. The building was built completely with private funds. It was named after a former Southern Utah University shop professor whose family donated funds for the theater.

The Festival website states:

The Randall L. Jones Theatre, dedicated in 1989, was designed by the firm of Fowler, Ferguson, Kingston, and Ruben, with theatrical design by the California firm of Landry and Bogan, as well as Cameron Harvey, Festival producing artistic director. It was built at a cost of $5.5 million, to expand the Festival’s offerings, especially in the area of world classics, and was featured in the August 1990 edition of Architecture magazine. The theatre is named after a Cedar City native known as the father of tourism in southern Utah. It seats 769.

On the Backstage Tour we got to see what it really takes to produce a major dramatic production. We learned about theatre sets, costumes, and lighting and the designers and technicians who bring it all to life. Our tour guide was one of the costume technicians and she was able to knowledgeably answer our questions.

Jill asked for permission to take a few photographs and it was granted. Click on the images to enlarge.

Randall Theatre backstage

Randall Theatre backstage. In the far corner is the set for Great Expectations.

Great Expectations set

The set for Great Expectations

Randall Theatre trapdoor

Randall Theatre trapdoor

Wigs ready for showtime

Wigs ready for showtime

Next: The Adams Shakespearean Theatre Backstage Tour
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Utah Shakespearean Festival: The Greenshow

The GreenshowThere was more to our visit to the Utah Shakespearean Festival than The 39 Steps, Much Ado about Nothing, and Pride and Prejudice. Not only were there more plays but there were such diversions as The Greenshow. The Greenshow is a series of complimentary performances presented six nights a week, prior to the evening theatrical performances. There are also several comely “tarts” selling Elizabethan fare.

The Utah Shakespearean Festival website has this to say:

The perfect mood enhancer for the Festival’s productions can be found each summer evening on the beautiful green and courtyard surrounding the Adams Shakespearean Theatre. The Greenshow features the spirited song, dance, and costumes of Shakespeare’s day, and it’s free! Add storytelling, juggling, and Elizabethan sweets, and you’ll have a fun-filled frolic to prepare you for the main stage performance that follows.

This time I only saw a few minutes of The Greenshow — just long enough to snap a couple of photographs. In prior visits I have watched a whole show for they are very entertaining.

The Greenshow

Next: The Randall L. Jones Theatre Backstage Tour

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Utah Shakespearean Festival: Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice set

The set of Pride and Prejudice in the Randall L. Jones Theatre

Pride and Prejudice posterHaving already seen The 39 Steps and Much Ado about Nothing, we were looking forward to Pride and Prejudice to finish our two days at the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen. It was begun in 1796, her second novel, but her first serious attempt at publication. She finished the original manuscript by 1797 in Steventon, Hampshire, where she lived with her parents and siblings in the town rectory. Austen originally called the story First Impressions, but it was never published under that title; instead, she made extensive revisions to the manuscript, then retitled and eventually published it as Pride and Prejudice.

The play is adapted by Joseph Hanreddy and J. R. Sullivan and directed by B. J. Jones. The Utah Shakespearean Festival website has this to say:

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are desperate. With no sons, they are determined to arrange profitable marriages for their five beautiful daughters. However, when two eligible young men arrive in the neighborhood, excitement and passion begin to rule; and the Bennet household is in danger of being tipped firmly on its end. Fully capturing the spirit of the classic book, this adaptation is delightful, romantic, and fun for the entire family.

My wife owns the notable 1995 television version produced by the BBC starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Also the 2005 movie starring Keira Knightley (in an Oscar-nominated performance) and Matthew Macfadyen. She also has the book. So it was destined that she would see the play.

For me, already knowing the plot and the ending, didn’t spoil the play. The interest now is not in what happens but how the story is told. It seemed to me that all the story was covered — I did not notice anything that was left out. But I do not think I would catch omissions anyway as I have not read the book.

Wikipedia has an interesting Pride and Prejudice Character Map showing the relationships between characters.
Pride and Prejudice Character Map

Next: The Greenshow
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Utah Shakespearean Festival: Much Ado about Nothing

Much Ado about Nothing poster
For our 30th anniversary Jill and I spent two days in Cedar City this week. Monday afternoon at the Utah Shakespearean Festival we watched The 39 Steps. In the evening it was time for Much Ado about Nothing, a comedy by William Shakespeare about two pairs of lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero.

The play is directed by B. J. Jones. The Utah Shakespearean Festival website has this to say:

Meet Beatrice and Benedick. To them love is a game of wits. Then meet Hero and Claudio. To them love is, well . . . just love. This vibrant and comic celebration of life and romance will introduce you to these opposite lovers, and to a host of villains, clowns, and eccentric characters. And you will cheer when these lively couples finally learn realities about life, love—and themselves.

The play is shown in the Adams Shakespearean Theatre, dedicated in 1977. It is patterned after drawings and research of sixteenth century Tudor stages. Experts say it is one of a few theatres that probably comes close to the design of the Globe Theatre in which Shakespeare’s plays were originally produced.

I found watching Much Ado about Nothing in an open air theater just adds to the experience. The play was very entertaining and funny. Sometimes, watching Shakespeare drags for me, being the uncouth man that I am, but I enjoyed this play and the time was gone all too soon.

Next: Pride and Prejudice
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Utah Shakespearean Festival: The 39 Steps

Utah Shakespearean Festival posters

For our 30th anniversary Jill and I spent two days in Cedar City. Our first stop was the play The 39 Steps showing at the Utah Shakespearean Festival. The original was the 1935 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on the adventure novel The Thirty-nine Steps by John Buchan. The film stars Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll.

Utah Shakespearean Festival bannerThe play was adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel and is directed by Eli Simon. The Utah Shakespearean Festival website has this to say:

What do you get when you blend Alfred Hitchcock with Monty Python? A hilarious mystery spoof that will keep you guessing! Murder, betrayal, and espionage intertwine with sly and hysterical nods to many of Hitchcock’s films, resulting in one of the funniest plays to ever hit Broadway. See if you can figure out whodunit as this cast of four transforms into over 150 farcical characters!

It took me awhile to catch on but there are only four actors in the play. This is where a lot of the humor is involved as characters, at times, are switched at a frenetic pace. There were an amazing amount of costume changes as there are over 150 characters.

It was clever (and funny) how the train and car rides were simulated. At one point, one of the actors was so funny that the other actors had a great deal of trouble keeping a straight face. This set off the audience laughing anew.

This mystery spoof is intertwined with sly and hysterical nods to many of Hitchcock’s films. Most of these had gone over my head before I finally caught on.

Really, my theater ticket was wasted on me.

Next: Much Ado about Nothing
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Utah Shakespearean Festival: Cyrano de Bergerac

Jill with the executive director, R. Scott Phillips

The Festival

My wife and I are in Cedar City for two days for the Utah Shakespearean Festival. We were last here two years ago and before that it was a twenty years. Each time we have enjoyed ourselves immensely. With just a short 3 1/2 hour drive with not a rickety road anywhere we arrived in good spirits ready for theater. The plays take place on the campus of Southern Utah University that is located not far from five national parks. Skiing is 40 minutes away at Brian Head.

The Play

Cyrano de Bergerac, written by Edmond Rostand, is the play we watched tonight. We like to add one or two non-Shakespearean plays to our itinerary. Set in Paris in 1640 the play is about an expert swordsman, eloquent poet, and eligible bachelor. Cyrano (Brian Vaughn) shies away from wooing Roxane (Melinda Pfundstein) because his overly-large nose masks the beauty of his soul. Instead, he helps his bumbling young friend, Christian (Drew Shirley), court her by writing entrancing poetry for the young man to recite.
This is me with one of the ushers just as we were allowed in to be seated

The Actors

In real life Melinda is the wife of Brian. They both have performed at the Shakespearean many times over the years and have become a favorite of festival goers. The fact that as a married couple they are deeply in love will add another layer to this romantic and beautiful play. Brian and Melinda both attended Southern Utah University. In addition to their roles in Cyrano de Bergerac, Vaughn will be playing Launce in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Pfundstein will play Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof. We plan on seeing The Two Gentlemen of Verona tomorrow afternoon.

The Theater

The top left photograph is Jill with R. Scott Phillips, the executive director of the festival. It was taken a few minutes before the play began in the Adams Shakespearean Theatre, dedicated in 1977. It is patterned after drawings and research of sixteenth century Tudor stages. Experts say it is one of a few theaters that probably comes close to the design of the Globe Theatre in which Shakespeare’s plays were originally produced. It is so authentic that the British Broadcasting Company filmed part of its Shakespeare series there. It is named for Grace Adams Tanner, a major benefactor of the Festival, and her parents, Thomas D. and Luella R. Adams. It seats 819, plus 66 gallery-bench or standing-room seats. Jill and I have always attended the festival in August on our anniversary. August in Utah is usually very hot but in the evening in Cedar City the temperature is just right. In this open air theater the atmosphere is perfect in more ways than one. With the excellent acting it really doesn’t get any better than this.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t know much about this play before tonight. It was spoken in rhyme which I do not normally like but this time it came off rather well because it was so clever. Jill remarked that she didn’t know how Brian Vaughn (Cyrano) could remember so many lines. Maybe it is easier because they rhymed? It was a nice touch to place on our seats a blanket, seat pad, program, souvenir bottle of water, and a note attached with our name on it. This was for those who had purchased premium seats. That is why we also got to meet the director. All I did was to buy tickets that got us close to the front of the stage. Speaking of which, before the play started I took a photograph of the stage for which I was rebuked. Apparently the stage is copyrighted. Fortunately the director has not been copyrighted yet so you get to see him.

I plan on reporting on an actual Shakespeare play tomorrow. Unless writing about Shakespeare is also copyrighted. :)