Cedar City: Utah Shakespearen Festival
& The Iron Gate Inn




The Iron Gate Inn in Cedar City.

The Iron Gate Inn,
Circa 1897


The 187-mile drive from Las Vegas, Nevada to Cedar City, Utah along Interstate 15 is both easy and picturesque. In less than three hours I arrived at the Iron Gate Inn, a charming bed and breakfast owned by Susan and C.R. Wooten.

The restored and recently enlarged converted home features a separate carriage house, with two additional suites next door. Having been a haven for travelers - as I subsequently determined from the entries in the guest book – the Iron Gate Inn boasts spacious, beautifully decorated rooms with an adjoining garden blooming with flowers and fruit trees on their way to turning green peaches pink.

“Welcome,” Susan Wooten begins. “Can I help you bring something in?”




The airy, antique-filled dining
room at the Iron Gate Inn.

Her warm smile and enthusiasm are genuine. She obviously enjoys being a hostess, a decorator, a gourmet cook, and a businesswoman. It is these personal touches that make guests feel as if they are visiting a dear friend.

Victorian couches, tables, chairs, artwork and window treatments set the tone in both adjoining parlors. “Would you like something to drink?” Wooten asks. “Water? A glass of wine?”

Thanks to the media the state of Utah has become synonymous with Mormonism, and Mormons don’t or at least, aren’t supposed to drink alcohol. Well, here I am in Utah and this lovely woman is asking me if I’d like a glass of red or white wine. And my answer is yes. After a 2 ½ hour drive I was delighted to melt into a Victorian chair and relax with a glass of smooth Salmon Creek Merlot before an evening of “Twelfth Night” at the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Since I was the first of our group to arrive, I was given simple walking instructions to the Pastry Pub, a restaurant that happens to be a favorite of locals, followed by directions to Southern Utah University where the festival has been a centerpiece for the past 46 years.




The "Ruby G" is one of 10 bedrooms
named after Wooten's female relatives.

First I was shown to my room, a large bedroom with a firm but comfortable king-size bed off the dining room. Wooten explained that each of the ten bedrooms is named after she and C.R.’s mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers. “This is the Ruby G., named after CR’s grandmother.” Everything was pristine from floor to ceiling. Not a speck of dust anywhere in sight. Starched antique napkins had been placed diagonally over the window shade rollers to create a charming, old world ambiance. Decorated wooden wall mounts with stuffed satin hangers took the place of a closet. The bathroom was large, and featured a tub/shower and an antique sewing machine base with a modern white scalloped porcelain sink. Greenery from the garden can be seen from both the bathroom as well as the bedroom.

There were also plenty of plugs for my laptop, cell phone, and electric toothbrush. The B & B is also equipment with free WiFi. For reservations call: 800-808-4599 or go online: www.theirongateinn.com or theirongateinn@msn.com. The Inn is close to the I-15 freeway at 100 N. 200 West Street in Cedar City, Utah.

The Pastry Pub

Walking the short 1½ blocks past small homes and an Episcopal church allowed me to decompress. A girl sitting on her front lawn talking on a cell phone saw me and waved hello. Cedar City was definitely a throwback to a friendlier time. After all, I wasn’t wearing a sign saying “Tourist”. I was just another woman walking down the street, and in this place people actually acknowledge one another.

Inside the Pastry Pub I discovered a similar sense of ease and camaraderie. The fare was simple, primarily: soups, salads, sandwiches, lattes, teas and desserts. I ordered a Chai tea and their special salad. I sat down and within minutes a nice, young waitress delivered a large dish with romaine lettuce that looked like it had just been picked from the garden, tomatoes, olives, cheese, and turkey. The dressing was tangy with a hint of soy sauce. Two slices of freshly baked Rosemary bread framed the plate. Delicious and all for under $10.00.

The second time I visited the Pastry Pub there were even more people rushing in and out. Some got food to go while others sat at one of many tables. The vegetarian wrap looked very inviting, but since my first salad had been so successful I tried the Oriental Chicken Salad. The food is fresh, healthy, and reasonably priced.

Open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to midnight during the summer festival. Located at 86 W. Center they serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The fresh roast coffee bar features lattes, mocha, cappuccino, shakes, and Italian sodas. The double chocolate cake is amazing.




Shelly Gaza (left) as Viola
& Michael Sharon as Orsino.

Twelfth Night at the Utah Shakespearean Festival

Two blocks from the The Iron Gate Inn I spotted Southern Utah University, headquarters for the Tony award-winning Utah Shakespearean Festival that is currently running from June 21st through September 1st. There is also a Fall schedule that runs from September 14th through October 27th (dates vary year by year).

In preparation for the main event, the Greenshow is in full swing and the lawn is thick with captivated adults and children. Six days a week I am told, there is a nightly Greenshow with differing themes. This Thursday evening the first performance of Shakespeare’s comedic farce, Twelfth Night is preceded by outdoor entertainment, vaudevillian in nature. There are jokes with silly punch lines, actors raving about the freshly baked fruit tarts available from wandering, costumed wenches, and well choreographed dances and songs.




A scene from the Utah Shakespearean
Festival’s Twelfth Night.

Twelfth Night resonates with the giddy heraldry of switched identities, and love’s labours lost, sensed, and ultimately found. The actors are all so well trained that when they speak, the lines are easy to understand and their meaning is obvious. The outdoor Adams Shakespearean Theatre captures the spirit of its Elizabethan inspiration. Under the stars, with partial covering over the balcony makes this an especially nice summer venue. If by chance a storm sweeps in, the festival planners have built double sets in the Randall L. Jones Theatre across the street. Rain or shine Shakespeare will go on.




Phil Hubbard (left) as Sir Toby Belch,
Jered Tanner as Feste, & Michael David
Edwards as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

The play opens in a city in Illyria with Feste, a clown, servant to Olivia (Jared Tanner) who proves to have acute comedy timing as well as a beautiful singing voice. Sir Toby Belch, Olivia’s uncle (Phil Hubbard) is a proper naughty drunkard, while Orsino, duke of Illyria (Michael Sharon) makes us feel his romantic outbursts. Meanwhile, Viola (Shelly Gaza) and her brother Sebastian (Ryan Schabach) overcome the obvious difference in size and appearance to make the roles work seamlessly. Malvolio, steward to Olivia (Donald Sage Mackay) is duped by Maria, Olivia’s maid (Anne Newhall) and made to repent in a dungeon for his idiotic behavior towards the fair, not to mention rich countess, Olivia (Carey Cannon). All of these performers belong to Actors Equity. The leads and supporting players are all professionals, either highly seasoned, or on their way to earning their union cards.




Michael Littig (left) as Fabian, Phil Hubbard
as Sir Toby Belch, Shelly Gaza as Viola, &
Michael Edwards as Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

The direction by B.J. Jones is light, and adept. The sets by Bill Forrester provide just the right royal and seaside ambiance. The characters are confused while the audience knows exactly where they are. The lighting by Donna Ruzika is so subtle that one doesn’t think about it. The music by Joe Payne helps to clarify the storyline. Everyone in the production does an exceptionally good job.

At intermission the smell of fresh fruit pies, roasting nuts, and chocolate treats makes stretching my legs a must. I enjoy a fresh-baked raspberry tart. The snack bar serves a variety of English themed food as well as espresso, hot chocolate and sodas.




Anne Newhall (left) as Maria
& Phil Hubbard as Sir Toby Belch.

Listening to well-delivered Shakespeare, sitting beneath the stars, and tasting homemade delicacies makes the Utah Shakespearean Festival a  refreshing destination for summer and fall. For tickets call: 1 - 800-PLAYTIX or go online to www.bard.org

When I returned to my seat after intermission I met Bonnie and Bill Neeley, a travel writer/photographer team that were also staying at the Iron Gate Inn. They had flown to Las Vegas from Paris, Texas, rented a car and driven the Cedar City. We enjoyed the lovely night air as we walked the block and a half back to our bed and breakfast. Experiencing a sense of old-fashioned calm was especially nice after leaving Las Vegas where being alert, and locking doors and windows has become part of everyday life.

Breakfast at the
Iron Gate Inn


Friday morning at 8:30 AM I could smell the coffee, sausage and bread pudding. Delicious aromas wafted through the dining room and outside to the sunny garden. There was orange juice and fresh fruit. Served buffet style a variety of guests appeared, exchanged hellos with other guests and filled their plates. Some dined inside the high-ceilinged dining room while others made their way to the wrought iron tables outside.




The Iron Gate Inn is
spacious & comfortable.

Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. sharp Susan and CR served us Monte Cristo breakfast sandwiches with a delicious fresh fruit garnish of strawberries and grapes. It felt more like visiting a long lost cousin than staying at a bed and breakfast.

Sunday morning breakfast was again punctual. Susan made a spinach, artichoke, and bacon quiche along with Blueberry Sour Cream coffee cake. Served in buffet style there was also a platter with fresh melon, orange slices and strawberries. Orange juice, coffee and specialty teas were also available. It was nice chatting with the Wootens who know  Cedar City and the outlying areas well enough to answer questions and make travel suggestions.

The bed and breakfast can be rented for retreats, leadership training, conferences, weddings or family reunions. The property is versatile with one downstairs bedroom being wheelchair accessible. Cedar City is also located close enough to Zion, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, Brian Head and the Panawan Gap that the Iron Gate Inn is a welcome home base.

After lunch we drove from Cedar City to Kolob Canyon, the northern portion of Zion National Park. As we began our ascent Maria explained, “Here the rugged, red Navajo sandstone cliffs tower over the valley.”




Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park.

The higher we drove the more red the highway became until we pulled over to take pictures of several of the beautiful “finger canyons”. The road is made of a combination of red cinder and asphalt, making the drive that much more beautiful. In the distance we could see Cedar City

Maria explained that the dead trees we saw were spruce that had been attacked by the bark beetle. Apparently, bark beetles only attack tress of a certain mature girth. They lay their eggs and after doing a certain amount of damage they move on, leaving the younger trees alone. That way when they make their way back in another twenty years there will be mature trees for them. If they attacked everything they’d end up starving to death.

According to Maria, locals named this area Kolob Canyons. They believe that Kolob is the place closest to God in Mormon scripture. It is the highest point in Utah.

We arrived at the Timber Creek Trail and began an easy quarter mile hike with  spectacular views of the striated red rock layers that make this area so beautiful and unique. The late afternoon was warm, in the nineties. A few wild flowers had begun to poke their heads out. Take a deep breath and soak in natures majesty.

Back to the Iron Gate Inn, a cup of Earl Grey tea and a hot shower. Maria had put together a wonderful southern Utah goody bag that included two wickedly delicious candy bars – Utah Truffle. Made in Utah, and in my case, happily consumed in Utah.




James Newcomb as
Caius Martius Coriolanus.

Coriolanus

History tells us that indeed there was a man named Coriolanus. Whether or not Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus” is an inspired work of fiction is irrelevant. The play is as potent today as it was in Shakespeare’s time.

The Utah Shakespearean Theatre’s production fleshes out Coriolanus’ (James Newcomb) many conflicts. The heroic soldier believes himself to be far superior to the common folk, who just happen to be starving. The Roman senate promises Coriolanus that he will be named consul if he can get the plebeians vote.

The war hero flies into a rage, detesting the possibility of popular rule. He is called a traitor and sent into exile.

The cast is large and the players are adept at holding the audience’s attention. Leslie Brott plays Volumnia, Coriolanus’ mother with the deft heavy hand of a woman determined to chart her son’s destiny. Kate Cook, Coriolanus’ wife Virgilia, shows her husband the more practical, temporal side of reason.




Michael Sharon (left) as
Tullus Aufidius and Coriolanus.

Act II finds the feisty, tattered hero turning to his old enemy, Tullus Aufidius  (Michael Sharon). Together they plot the siege of Rome, the city he once defended. There are sword fights and battles, but nothing more tragic and compelling than Coriolanus’ inability to get beyond his stubborn pride and misplaced sense of honor. His meltdown is the audience’s window into the fallen hero’s soul. James Whitcomb makes us feel his inner conflict and pain. Layer upon layer of historical perspective directs our attention to what is going on in today’s news.




Kate Cook as Virgilia.

Director Henry Woronicz gives the play a contemporary touch allowing us to understand that, although we are in a technological age, man is still plagued by the same ideological tortures that drew Shakespeare to this moment in Roman lore.

The repertory process is especially gratifying when one sees Michael Sharon playing silly, love-struck Orsino in Twelfth Night followed by the villainous general, Tullus Aufidius in Coriolanus, or Phil Hubbard’s drunken, debauched Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night and Cominius, the serious Roman general in Coriolanus.. Leslie Brott infuses Coriolanus’ mother with strength and serious determination. She will undoubtedly reveal herself as a comedienne in Thorton Wilder’s “The Matchmaker”.

For reservation call: 800-752-9849 or go online: www.bard.org. It is also almost always possible to buy tickets the day of the performance. Cedar City is a charming place and the theater is extraordinarily good.




The Roman soldiers.

Friday night Maria Twitchell took the Neely’s and myself to dinner at the Garden House We were joined by Kami Terry, marketing director for the Utah Shakespearean Festival and Amanda Caraway, media and public relations director for the festival. Both women shared an electric excitement for the theater. Cami began by telling us how thrilled they were when they won the Tony for Best Regional Theater in 2000. Amanda had recently joined the staff from San Diego and was obviously thrilled with Cedar City.

Saturday morning we met Kami Terry at the Randall L. Jones Theater for a personal backstage tour. On the campus of Southern Utah University there are three theaters. The Adams Shakespearean Theater is outdoors in the Elizabethan ‘Old Vic’ tradition. Adjacent to the outdoor theater is the Auditorium Theatre where Shakespearean plays are performed in the afternoon. The Randall L. Jones Theatre is located across the street.

Feature by Linda Lane, Jetsetters Magazine Entertainment Editor.

Spa Break at Cedar Breaks Lodge