Utah Shakespeare Festival plans $26.5 million theater

CEDAR CITY, Utah — The Utah Shakespeare Festival has announced plans to build a $26.5 million theater in an effort to lure more visitors and provide a greater economic boost to the region.

Construction of the new 900-seat theater on the Southern Utah University campus in Cedar City is expected to begin in fall 2013 and be completed by 2015, festival organizers said.

While most of the money has been raised, $8.5 million is still needed to finish the project, the Deseret News reported.

As the festival has grown, organizers said, a larger, more modern theater has been sought to attract more than the 150,000 visitors who attend each summer and fall. The current open-air Adams Theater has been in use for more than 35 years.

The new theater will feature a retractable roof, which will be closed in adverse weather. The roof also will allow an expansion of the play season and greater audience amenities such as improved heating and air conditioning.

“We will be able to extend into the fall and winter months, while maintaining comfort for our patrons,” said Brian Vaughn, festival artistic director.

Organizers predicted the longer season would give a lift to Southern Utah’s economy. The award-winning festival generates about $36 million annually for the local economy.

“And with this new theater, we will almost immediately be able to add $8 million more to that and hopefully attract 30,000 more patrons,” said R. Scott Phillips, festival executive director.

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