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Utah Shakespeare Festival founder Fred Adams dies at 89

Posted at 8:57 AM, Feb 06, 2020

CEDAR CITY, Utah — The man who founded the Utah Shakespeare Festival died early Thursday at his Cedar City home.

Fred C. Adams and his wife, Barbara Gaddie Adams, first founded the festival in 1961 in preparation for the opening season in 1962. Since then, the festival has grown from a budget of $1,000 and about 3,000 paid admissions to a budget of $8 million and about 100,000 annual attendees, according to a news release from the festival's director of development and communication.

"During the past years, Adams nurtured the Festival and arts in Utah in many ways. He directed all three plays the first season in 1962: The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, and The Merchant of Venice. He was also the main fundraiser, producer, and cheerleader of the fledgling company," the news release said. "Adams retired from the leadership of the Festival in 2005. Since that time, he has kept active in a variety of activities, including directing, acting, fundraising, and coming to his office nearly every day. He sustained warm relationships with the entire staff and board and throughout the community."

Adams was also a professor of theater at Southern Utah University from 1959 to 1997. He was named professor emeritus upon his retirement of teaching, the news release said.

“Fred was a genius,” said Governor Gary R. Herbert. “He truly was the visionary behind the Utah Shakespeare Festival, which is beloved by both our state and our nation. Fred was one of a kind, and he will be sorely missed. We join with all Utahns in expressing condolences to his family.”

The Utah Shakespeare Festival has received a Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, an Emmy award and a Utah Best of State award, the news release said.

Adams' family has not announced funeral plans. Donations to the Utah Shakespeare Festival are requested in lieu of flowers, per Adams' wishes.