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The Special Tradition of the Greenshow

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Join us at the Utah Shakespeare Festival for a celebration on the green! The Greenshow is a very special part of the Festival experience and has been since the beginning sixty-one years ago. Started by Festival founder Fred C. Adams’s wife Barbara Adams, the Greenshow is complimentary pre-play entertainment that takes place on the outdoor Greenshow stage on the Festival grounds and alternates nightly between three distinct shows.

The history of a show on the green hearkens back to William Shakespeare’s time. “The tradition started at the Globe Theatre when free shows were performed on the grounds outside the theatre,” says this season’s Greenshow director Cassie Abate. “These shows usually starred the performers who would appear in the main play that evening. They energized the crowd and set the tone for the evening’s main event.”

When the Festival in Cedar City first began, Barbara was adamant that the Festival include a nightly Greenshow featuring music, dancing, and a Punch and Judy puppet show, which was also something that emerged during the 1600s. Barbara took charge of the music portion of the original Festival’s Greenshow. Because Fred and Barbara knew that they would need to work to get the word out about the shows, she taught a group of musicians to play recorders who then would walk to Cedar City’s downtown area, playing and singing medievel music to attract attention. They would invite listeners to come and see the Festival shows. For many years, Barbara was the force that kept the Greenshow improving and growing. 


Abate says her goal with the Greenshow this season is to provide fun, humor, and enjoyment for audiences and to set the stage for the mainstage Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre production of the evening in “location, time period, or community.” She also hopes to create an interactive experience that gives the audience a chance to “become a part of the show.” Perfect for the whole family, it begins at 7:10 each night, Monday through Saturday, and runs for approximately 30 minutes.

Each of the three Greenshows alternate each night and include a mix of traditional theatre, musical theatre, and popular song and dance along with stories, humor, and interactive entertainment. As for the three themes this season, guests can expect to fall in love on the streets of Paris (prior to All’s Well That Ends Well which is set in 1940s France and Italy), revel in the amusements of the British music hall (before the musical Sweeney Todd), and prepare for the coronation of the next Queen of the Greenshow (ahead of royal King Lear). 

“It is an incredible privilege to be a part of such an important tradition,” says Abate. “I hope to honor the past while also finding some new perspectives.” So, come visit Cedar City this summer, grab a famous Utah Shakespeare Festival tart, find a spot of green, and enjoy the shows!