Summer Theatre has been the seasonal life blood of towns and companys across the country for centuries. Many now famous actors cut their teeth doing summer stock acting until their big breaks came along. Cities that would otherwise be sleepy stops off of major highways become bustling tourist towns for months at a time due to the thrill of live theatre. Utah’s theatre community is blessed with exceptional shows to look forward to all summer long.

The summer has already begun at the Tuacahn with spectacular outdoor performances of Anastasia and Frozen while their indoor show — Ring of Fire — will be reviewed by UTBA President Maren Swenson in late June. I’ll finish off their season in July with Jersey Boys, and I hope to finally have an answer to “Who loves you pretty baby?”.

Starting this week with Creekside Theatre Fest in Pleasant Grove, viewers can see local talent in a rare treat for Utah with a production of Doubt. Later in the month, King Lear and School of Rock will take stage at Creekside and audiences will enjoy one kind of slashing or another.

Utah Shakespeare Festival has a thrilling season with something for everyone. The outdoor Englstad theatre fashioned after Shakespeare’s Globe will have Shakespearean standards Henry VIII for lovers of SIX, The Winter’s Tale, and new USF artistic director John DiAntonio as he plays Petruchio opposite his wife Caitlin Wise as Kate in The Taming of the Shrew. Much Ado About Nothing and Alfred Hitchcock classic The 39 Steps will play in repertory in the Jones Theatre. I’m thrilled to be reviewing Anes Studio theatre shows Silent Sky and The Mountain Top later in July.

In Cache County, Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre will have a suite of oldies but goodies in its five-week summer season starting with musicals Anything Goes and Guys and Dolls. The season will also feature the opera Gianni Schichhi and Buoso’s Ghost. The season rounds out with two more contemporary musicals with Cats and Little Shop of Horrors.

Also in Logan, Lyric Repertory Company at Utah State University will feature several iconic straight plays including Driving Miss Daisy and Hay Fever taking the stage at Lyric Rep for the first time since 1981. The highly demanded Shear Madness will finally make its Logan premire and the summer’s musical is SH-BOOM: Life Could Be A Dream, a juke box musical featuring favorites of the 50’s and 60’s.

For those further north, Pickleville Playhouse has a fun duo of Welcome to Dangerville and Newsies. Can any summer plans beat Bear Lake and live theatre?

Another Utah staple, Sundance, will have their summer show which is also Newsies and will be part of a spectacular summer slate up Provo Canyon. Don’t forget to catch something at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival with twenty “original, uncensored and unadjudicated” shows.

Last, but ceratinly not least in our summer highlight is SimonFest which will feature Ordinary Days and Fiddler on the Roof as its first productions and then open Steel Magnolias for those summer water works we all need.

We know there are many great city arts councils and other productions to see! I plan on sampling a little bit of everything. Let us know what you’re most excited to see!

These reviews are made possible by a grant from the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts, and Parks program.