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Summer Showcase offers youngsters a taste of the Bard

Cedar City festival kicks off Monday, will run all week

SHARE Summer Showcase offers youngsters a taste of the Bard

In its latest step to bring Shakespeare to the young people of the community, the Utah Shakespearean Festival has announced its Second Annual Summer Shakespeare Showcase in Cedar City.

Featuring students from elementary, middle and junior high schools, the showcase is scheduled for the week of July 24-28.

Performances, all free of charge, are each day at noon in the Adams Memorial Shakespearean Theatre.

More than 100 students will participate, with 50 technicians to support them. Dates and school groups coming to perform are:

July 24: The Academy of Performing Arts, Salt Lake City, performing a 45-minute version of "The Tempest," adapted by director Marey Bishop.

July 25: Kanosh Acting Company, "Henry V." (A 15-minute pantomime version, featuring children from 4-7 years of age, will be performed on the Greenshow Stage, after which older children will perform an expanded version on the main stage.)

July 26: Bloomington Elementary School, St. George, "The Merchant of Venice."

July 27: Dobson Montessori Junior High School, Mesa, Ariz., will perform "Midsummer Night's Dream." (This is the first time an out-of-state school has performed in the showcase.)

July 28: Cross Hollows Intermediate School, Cedar City, "Midsummer Night's Dream."

Susan Bulloch, from Cross Hollows, was inspired to participate for the first time this year, after watching last year's Summer Showcase.

All of the students participating in the showcase presentations will receive buttons emblazoned with "All the world's MY stage."

The showcase is the second this year, following one held in April in observance of Shakespeare's birthday.

The showcase program originated last year when the formerly Murray-based performing arts academy used the Adams Shakespearean stage to present its production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" because its theater had its doors closed a week before the scheduled performance.

At the showcase, students will have a chance to share their interpretations and visions of scenes from Shakespeare, and they can see what their peers are doing.

"For many students, this will be their first experience with Shakespeare," said Michael Don Bahr, Festival education director. "It's a joy to behold these students perform, and to hear them chewing those wonderful Shakespearean words. It's empowering and exciting to them.

"It is so thrilling because of the diversity of the groups participating and the high quality of the scenes they will be performing. These groups have already performed in their respective communities and present stellar productions," said Bahr.

Following each performance, teachers and other audience members will be invited to a free discussion in the nearby Seminar Grove, where the director of that day's showcase group will field questions on how the productions came together and how to use Shakespearean works in school.

While at the Utah Shakespearean Festival, the participating students will take a backstage tour and will meet some of the actors from this year's productions.

The festival already sponsors the Utah Shakespearean Festival/Southern Utah University Shakespeare Competition for high school students and has taken its traveling education productions across the Southwest, but this is an opportunity for younger students to participate in this type of performing showcase, right on festival stages.

For further information regarding the showcase or for those who would like their class or group to participate in the future, contact Bahr at 1-435-865-8333.

"I hope students, teachers and parents get as excited about this as I am," said Bahr. "I think it is a wonderful opportunity that students in most areas will never have."

E-mail: ivan@desnews.com