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Ogden Shakespeare Festival set to debut this month with presentation of ‘As You Like It’

By Rob Nielsen - | Jul 2, 2024

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The Ogden Shakespeare Festival logo.

OGDEN — Shakespeare is coming to Ogden, and it’s hoped he’ll have a little staying power.

A dream years in the making, the Ogden Shakespeare Festival is set to debut at the Ogden Amphitheater with nightly performances of “As You Like It” from July 19-21. Each of the three performances will start at 8 p.m.

Festival Director Jennifer Hughes told the Standard-Examiner said the idea for a Shakespeare festival in Ogden is not a new one for her.

“This has been about 15 years in the making for me,” she said. “In 2009, I opened a theater company — Beehive Theatre Co. — and we did a couple of Shakespeares then. I love Shakespeare, I love the Utah Shakespeare Festival and I thought, ‘Ogden would be such a great spot to have a Shakespeare festival.'”

However, a Shakespeare festival in Ogden was not to be — at least for the time being.

Hughes said a combination of life events and her teaching job at St. Joseph Catholic High School in Ogden made such an endeavor very hard, until last year.

“I left last year to pursue this goal,” she said. “We incorporated this past October, got our nonprofit status, set things up and contracted with Ogden City to use the amphitheater,” she said. “We’re excited to roll this out this summer with our production of ‘As You Like It.'”

She said this is the first official Shakespeare festival she knows of to be held in Ogden and that even city officials noted just how unique the event is.

“When we were meeting at the amphitheater with the staff there, they were saying, ‘It’s really exciting to have theater happening in the amphitheater,’ because there’s not a lot of theater that happens,” she said. “There’s a lot of other cool events, but not theater.”

Hughes said the play itself is coming together well.

“It’s been so delightful,” she said. “The cast — these are a lot of people that had no idea what this was going to be like, and just out of their love for Shakespeare, their love for theater, their love for Ogden (they) wanted to see something like this happen.”

She said the theater group also has partnered with St. Joseph, where Hughes taught for 17 years, for practices, dress rehearsals and set building.

Hughes said hopes are to make this a yearly festival and bring Shakespeare to the city more often in between.

“We would like to build and have a full summer season where we have several Shakespeare plays at several Ogden venues like Peery’s Egyptian, one of the theaters at Weber State and then, of course, our amazing amphitheater,” she said. “We are actually committed to doing Shakespeare all year long. We have a project happening at the Eccles Theater at Weber State — we’re going to be doing ‘Julius Caesar’ in March.”

Hughes said there’s a mix of emotions in finally making this dream of 15 years into a reality.

“It’s so exciting and so terrifying at the same time,” she said. “There’s always that sense of, ‘We’re creating this beautiful thing to put out in the world.’ You just hope the world that you’re creating this for recognizes it and sees it as the gift of the heart that it is. There’s a little bit of that kind of human trepidation, but mostly just complete delight and thrill to be bringing Shakespeare to the amphitheater and to Ogden in this very unique way.”

For more information on the Ogden Shakespeare Festival visit https://ogdenshakesfest.org. Tickets also will be available at the door.


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