Utah Shakespeare Festival picks its new artistic director

The Cedar City-based festival also makes permanent its choice for executive managing director.

(Utah Shakespeare Festival) John DiAntonio, left, has been named the artistic director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, and Michael Bahr, right, has been named the festival's executive managing director, it was announced Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.

A theater director with experience as an actor and playwright has been named the new artistic director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

John DiAntonio, currently the producing artistic director of the Creede Repertory Theatre in Creede, Colorado, is taking over as artistic director, the Cedar City-based festival announced Wednesday afternoon.

The current interim artistic director, Derek Charles Livingston, will continue as artistic associate and director of new play development. Livingston took the interim post just before the 2022 season started, when longtime artistic director Brian Vaughn stepped down abruptly.

DiAntonio “has a great love for Shakespeare, experience with rotating repertory, and embraces the complexity and sustainability of theatrical processes,” Michael Bahr, the festival’s executive managing director, said in a statement.

Wednesday’s announcement also touted Bahr’s ascension to the executive managing director position. He had been interim managing director since November, and had been the festival’s education director for more than 20 years. Bahr came back to the festival — he had retired to be the principal at a charter school — after the executive producer, Frank Mack, quit last October.

DiAntonio has overseen the Creede company for seven years, and lived in New York for six years before that with his wife, actor Caitlin Wise DiAntonio. He has been a freelance actor, director, playwright and teacher. He has a bachelor’s degree in theater and psychology from Case Western University in Cleveland, a master’s of fine arts from the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, and studied classical acting at the British American Drama Academy in London.

The festival closes out three of its productions on Saturday: “Romeo & Juliet,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “A Raisin in the Sun.” Four more plays — “The Play That Goes Wrong,” “Jane Austen’s Emma,” “Coriolanus” and “Timon of Athens” — will continue through Oct. 7.