By Kent Larsen
Utah Shakespearean Festival Box Office Declines; But Wins Expansion
CEDAR CITY, UTAH -- In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, the
Utah Shakespearean Festival has seen a 25-30 percent drop in ticket sales
for its Fall season. But, in spite of the drop, the Festival, founded and
run by LDS Church member Fred Adams, won an important ruling Wednesday that
will allow it to proceed with a planed expansion.
The Cedar City council voted 4-1 Wednesday to close a block of 200 West so
that the Festival could use the block to create a two-block center for its
programs. Festival goers have seen models of the planned center for several
years which include closing the street, and relocating the USF's Adams
Theater, a replica of London's Globe Theater of the time, to a location on
the combined block that is now part of the street. The council's action
makes these plans possible.
However, the council action didn't come without opposition. Many in this
predominantly-Mormon community attended the council meeting and spoke
against the proposal. Former councilman Neil Carter said that closing the
street would be an imposition to residents, "They (festival representatives)
painted a pretty picture, but you can't get people to work, you can't get
people to school and you can't get people to church if the street is
closed." And Cindy Wright challenged the festival's claims that the change
would boost property values, "I can't imagine parents buying homes right
next to the festival. This will only make it worse."
But Del Drummond spoke in favor of the change, "It really bothers me to hear
these people say 'I'm a citizen and I pay taxes. Well, I pay taxes too.
We're talking about an inconvenience for a few people. The Utah
Shakespearean Festival makes this town. What other business gets the
recognition the festival gives us? The benefits the festival brings to our
city are far greater than the inconvenience of a few people."
Meanwhile, the festival's sales this season have dropped as a result of the
terrorist attacks. Just one week into the Fall season, a relatively recent
addition to the festival's program, Managing Director Scott Phillips said
that attendance at the plays is off by 25 to 30 percent, "Some nights actors
are going out there to do a production before 100 people in a house that
seats 750 people."
He also expressed surprise at the drop, "Our phones have absolutely stopped
ringing. I'm a little surprised because 98 percent of our people come by
car, they don't fly. And Cedar City is a relatively safe place, all things
considered. Still, we've had several callers from Las Vegas and the Wasatch
Front who said they were fearful to travel here. I cannot fathom it."
Fortunately, none of the acting company, several of whom have at least lived
in New York City, lost family or friends in the attacks. But hotel operators
in the city have noticed a decline in bookings.
Still, with four weeks left in the Fall schedule, Phillips says the festival
can still recover the Fall season, [Performing after the terrorist attacks
is] "like a double-edged sword. We feel for all of those families in the
East, but, on the other side, we want to provide a venue where people can
laugh and enjoy themselves. That's great medicine."
Cedar Council vote paves way for festival expansion
St George UT Spectrum 27Sep01 A4
By Ed Kociela
Terrorism blamed for Shakespeare box office decline
St George UT Spectrum 23Sep01 A4
By Ed Kociela