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Posted 29 Sep 2001   For week ended September 28, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 28Sep01

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


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