Shakespearean Festival cuts a matter of being ‘pro-active’

With many regional theaters across the country closing or severely cutting back, it’s no surprise that the Utah Shakespearean Festival — heavily attended by Las Vegans — is tightening its belt.

The 2008 Cedar City season ended in deficit. Both 2009’s summer and fall calendar will end one week earlier than previously announced, and the lineup for the fall has been downscaled. Executive director R. Scott Phillips says the new bill-of-fare — which includes "Tuesdays with Morrie," "The Woman in Black," and the frequently performed "The Compleat Works of Willm Shkspr (Abridged)" — will require fewer actors and resources. Several positions have been eliminated, including three full-time year-round jobs.

Phillips is attempting a positive spin on the developments.

"This is not a picture of doom and gloom," he says. "We want to be pro-active and guarantee that the (50-year-old festival) continues for at least another half-century."

Hmmm. Well, I hope so. The fest is a great attribute to these parts.

Scheduling and ticket information is available at bard.org. …

In a Nov. 21 column, I talked about the sudden resignation of Scott Eckern, the artistic director of the hugely influential California Musical Theatre in Sacramento. Eckern’s ouster followed the revelation that he had contributed $1,000 of his own money to support Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage statewide. Whether or not his resignation should have been accepted has been a hot topic in theater circles since the election. Winds up his temporary replacement is a local: University of Nevada, Las Vegas theater prof and Broadway director Glenn Casale.

"I am in charge of seven shows," he says. "We’re (in) a very intensive casting session for the next four months."

Casale will return to UNLV after the seven productions. "I love our school!" he notes.

How does he feel about replacing Eckern?

"I have known Scott very well for the past 22 years," he says. "I think the whole situation was a sad thing. That is all I would like to say about it." …

The Onyx Theatre — by far the most attractive small playhouse in town — has been with us less than 21/2 years; yet already there’s talk of relocation. The auditorium is infamous for being located inside a Commercial Center fetish shop (The Rack). Trouble is, the county is very interested in that area and owner Michael Morse suspects a buyout will occur soon.

"I am looking," he says, "but we should be here for another year or so. If anyone has space they want to donate for a possible venue to our nonprofit, I would love that."

The theater has played host for a number of local homeless troupes.

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at DelValle@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.

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