St. George man acts, dances and choreographs at Shakespeare Festival (video)
No matter where you go at this year's Utah Shakespeare Festival, Rhett Guter and his multiple talents are on display.
On some days, the 27-year-old St. George native plays the title role in "Peter and the Starcatcher," a prequel to J.M. Barrie's book Peter and Wendy that explains how Peter Pan came to Neverland. The show finished its Broadway run earlier this year and the festival production marks the show's regional premiere in Utah.
On other days, he is a dancer in the Cole Porter musical "Anything Goes."
Besides those two roles, Guter was the choreographer for both shows.
His festival dedication won't end with the warm weather. Guter has a part in Shakespeare's "Richard II," which will run in the fall.
Playing Boy aka Peter Pan has been Guter's favorite role this year. He said working with director Brian Vaughn and the rest of the cast to bring the show to Utah for the first time made it a "special experience."
"[Guter] is a tremendous talent," said Vaughn. "He's what is becoming rarer in the theater world, a full on triple threat he can sing, dance and act."
Guter said he began performing when he was 12 with close-up magic tricks. Later, while attending Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts, he focused on acting and choreography.
At the time, he had no interest in dance.
"I kind of put my heels in and said I didn't really want to dance," he said. "It took me a while to warm up to it."
Rowland Butler, a teacher at Tuacahn High, helped melt the ice.
"When [Guter] entered the high school, he wasn't gonna act, he wasn't gonna sing, he wasn't gonna dance," said Butler, who has worked in the arts for 50 years as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. "But it was there every day. He watched it, he tried it and he loved it."
Guter also was good at it. In his junior year, he won a scholarship from the Utah Shakespeare Festival to attended a week-and-a-half-long actor training workshop in Cedar City. In 2006, as a freshman at Southern Utah University, he auditioned for the festival and landed the role of Scum in "The Greenshow."
"I was lucky to be cast pretty young," said Guter, who is now participating in his seventh festival.
Guter also has performed with several other theater companies, including the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Pacific Conservatory for Performing Arts (PCPA) and Pioneer Theatre Company. Most recently, he performed in an international tour of "West Side Story."
But he's partial to the theater closest to home.
"I see the festival as an artistic home," Guter said. "I love doing other things, but it's great to come back and work with people I look up to."
Where • Southern Utah University campus in Cedar City.
When • Through Aug. 31.
Shakespeare classics • In the outdoor Adams Theatre: "Love's Labour's Lost," "The Tempest" and "King John."
Contemporary plays • In the indoor Randall L. Jones Theatre: "Twelve Angry Men," "Peter and the Starcatcher" and "Anything Goes."
Tickets • $31-$72; at 800-PLAYTIX or http://www.bard.org.
Also • The festival offers ticketed backstage tours and free daily literary and production seminars, play orientations and greenshows.