We attended a fine performance tonight of The Merry Wives of Windsor. Sir John Falstaff was very strong. Mistress Ford and Mistress Page were excellent. And John Preston’s Master Ford nearly stole the show.
I didn’t grow up in a family that read Shakespeare or attended Shakespearean (or any other serious) theater, although my late brother became an avid Shakespeare buff and a devoted patron of the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
Actually, it’s a bit misleading to say that he was a “Shakespeare buff,” since, under his wife’s influence, he was very much inclined to regard Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford, as the real “Shakespeare.” (I’m open to the idea, myself.)
I owe our new family tradition of attending the Utah Shakespeare Festival to my college friend Scott Woolley, and to his parents, Galen and Doreen Woolley. They were kind enough, one year decades ago, to take me along with them from their home in California’s Bay Area to Ashland, Oregon, for the superb Shakespeare Festival there. I fell in love with the intense multi-day combination of wonderful theater, beautiful scenery, and good food that Ashland offered, and decided that I wanted to make it a tradition in my own family.
Unfortunately, I’ve been back to the festival in Ashland only once since then, though hope springs eternal. But Utah’s festival was beginning to emerge as a credible alternative back then, and, fortunately, I married a theater major who had already attended plays here before we met and who shares my enthusiasm. We haven’t missed a season here for at least twenty years.
It’s been fun for me that Brother and Sister Woolley, now retired to Cedar City, serve as ushers (and she as a lobby pianist) for the festival here. I’m very grateful to them for this part of my life.
Cedar City, Utah.