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- Via tucahn.org
Festival Road Trips
How to turn your weekend getaway into a theatrical whirlwind.
By Scott Renshaw
Summer in the city can be a bit of a fallow period for local theater, as many performing arts companies recharge their batteries for the beginning of their fall season. But there's plenty of summer theater in Utah; you might just have to hit the road to find some of it. There are ways to experience multiple high-quality productions in a narrow window, if you've got the time for a weekend getaway and know how to make the most of your schedule. Here's a primer on experiencing three of the state's longstanding summer theater traditions.
Where: Ivins (approximately 4.25-hour drive south from SLC)
The Shows: Tuacahn's 2018 summer season showcases four musicals, with premieres staggered from May through July. Three of the productions—Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, Matilda the Musical and The Prince of Egypt—are family-friendly shows in the gorgeous outdoor amphitheater, set right into the red rocks of Ivins (pictured). The fourth—Million Dollar Quartet—plays in the indoor Hafen Theater, where children under 5 are not permitted.
Seeing Them All: The last of the official opening nights is Prince of Egypt's on July 20, while Million Dollar Quartet's shorter run ends Aug. 11. On three of the weekends when all four shows are running, you'd need to make it to a Thursday evening performance to catch all three amphitheater productions on successive nights (there are no Sunday performances), plus a Friday or Saturday matinee for Million Dollar Quartet.
Ticket Prices: Amphitheater shows: $29-$92; Million Dollar Quartet: $29-$59. Season ticket packages offer a discount for those planning to attend all three of the amphitheater productions, with "any day" (Monday-Saturday) ticketing $99-$260 per person. Season tickets are vouchers only, so you'll need to select specific seating for individual shows after purchasing a package.
Lodging: Tuacahn offers discount hotel packages for more than 20 hotels and motels in the St. George area; prices vary widely, but be sure to inquire about discount package pricing when contacting any of the places listed on the Tuacahn website. Click the "packages" icon at the top of the page, then select "hotel packages."
Dining: Chef Hog's Café—offering a menu of soups, sandwiches, burgers and gyros—is the most convenient option, right on-site at Tuacahn. Otherwise, you can find plenty of options from 5-9 miles away on the main drag in St. George, from fine dining and sushi to pizza and other quick eats.
UTAH FESTIVAL OPERA & MUSICAL THEATRE (utahfestival.org)
Where: Logan (approximately 2 hour drive north)
The Shows: UFOMT's lineup traditionally includes a mix of Broadway musicals and classic opera, which this season is weighted toward the former. In June, the program kicks off with You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown at the Utah Theatre, followed by the July premieres of the four main productions at the Ellen Eccles Theater: Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods; Rossini's The Barber of Seville; the 1991 stage adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden; and the 2015 Broadway musical Amazing Grace, based on the life of John Newton, composer of the iconic titular hymn. Other special performances take place throughout the five-week primary season—including a concert tribute to Leonard Bernstein—as well as literary seminars, backstage tours and pre-show "informances" to provide additional context for the productions.
Seeing Them All: Into the Woods, Barber of Seville, Secret Garden and Amazing Grace all premiere the first full weekend of July—and as it turns out, that's the best opportunity to catch them all, plus Charlie Brown, in a three-day span. Head up on Thursday, July 5 at part of a long Independence Day weekend, catch the July 5 evening performance of Barber of Seville, then enjoy Charlie Brown (Friday matinee), Into the Woods (Friday evening), Amazing Grace (Saturday matinee) and Secret Garden (Saturday evening). Other weekends through Aug. 4 will allow you to catch everything except Charlie Brown (which primarily shows Mondays-Wednesdays).
Ticket Prices: Individual show tickets are available online at utahfestival.org, with prices ranging from $16-$79. Series discounts are available, but only by calling the main box office at 1-800-262-0074 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.).
Lodging: Six Logan-area hotels have partnership arrangements with UFOMT, including Best Western, Holiday Inn Express and Days Inn locations on Main Street within just a few blocks of the festival venues. Visit utahfestival.org for the list of participating locations, and contact the individual hotels to ask for their package discounts.
Dining: Logan's Main Street offers many great options within just a few blocks of the theater venues, including the beloved local stalwart The Bluebird. Visit explorelogan.com and click "dining" for a comprehensive listing of places to eat.
UTAH SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL (bard.org)
Where: Cedar City (approximately 3½ hour drive south)
The Shows: The Tony Award-winning regional theater boasts a season so diverse—from Shakespeare classics to Broadway musicals to fascinating plays—that it would be impossible to take everything in over the course of a single weekend. Beginning June 29, this year's lineup includes four Shakespeare works (Henry IV Part 1, The Merchant of Venice, Othello and The Merry Wives of Windsor), plus the musical Big River, the farcical comedy The Foreigner and the Homeric epic An Iliad—and that's all before the second season launches in August and September with Pearl's in the House and The Liar.
Seeing Them All: Again, that's really not an option. However, the festival's website offers several helpful potential itineraries depending on your interest in taking in other satellite activities of the festival—like the family-friendly Greenshow and various production seminars—or enjoying other area sights and activities. Visit bard.org/itineraries for some of the possible options to help you organize your schedule.
Ticket Prices: Shows at the centerpiece outdoor venue, the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre, run $20-$75; productions at the indoor Randall L. Jones Theatre go for $32-$75; Anes Studio Theatre tickets are $50-$54. Discount packages are available only if you're planning on taking in as many as six shows, so if you're planning a longer weekend visit, you can save $4-$5 per ticket. Students can even get a $40 pass that allows attendance at every show except Othello during the run of the festival, if you select tickets online the day of the performance.
Lodging: No special package discounts are offered in conjunction with area hotels and motels. Information about hotels, motels and bed & breakfast options can be found at visitcedarcity.com
Dining: Concessions and snacks are available on-site for between-shows convenience, while several nearby dining options are listed on the festival website.