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The Utah Shakespeare Festival has a new cast member in 2017: wine.

Guests attending shows at the outdoor Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre will be able to buy 5-ounce glasses of wine before each show and at intermission.

This will be the first full season that alcohol will be sold at the annual festival, which brings in thousands of theater fans from around the state and region.

Last year, leaders at Southern Utah University spent several months getting approval from the Cedar City Council and then the SUU board of trustees to sell alcohol at the festival.

By the time it received the OK and applied for the permits from the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, only three weekends of the 2016 fall season remained, said Anthony Lazenby, director of dining services for Chartwells, which oversees SUU's food services.

The school sold about 200 glasses of wine during those three weekends, he said, making it "a good trial run" for this season.

Getting a state alcohol permit is tricky for Utah's performing-arts venues, as they don't sell enough food to qualify for a restaurant liquor license.

The only option is to apply for single-event permits through the DABC. One permit allows for up to three days of alcohol service. Groups can apply for up to 12 special-event permits per year.

To qualify, groups must follow DABC guidelines for service, namely creating a special alcohol garden where only those 21 and older would be allowed with wristbands.

SUU will use its three-day permits Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays beginning in mid-July and continuing through the summer season, said Lazenby.

Alcohol will be not served during preview weekends or during the fall season. Alcohol also will not be sold at performances in the indoor Randall Jones Theatre.

While the special-event permits allow for the sale of beer, wine and spirits, SUU will sell only wine, he added.

Wine will cost between $8 and $12 a glass for red and white wines from IG Winery in Cedar City.

The wine garden will be near the concessions on the upper terrace of the Engelstad Theatre, so guests can sip while watching the Green Show before each performance, Lazenby said. Cheese and crackers, fruit and other snacks will be available for purchase.

Utah Shakespeare Festival

The Utah Shakespeare Festival will offer nine plays in its 56th season opening this weekend.

At the Engelstad Shakespeare Theatre • "Shakespeare in Love" (through Sept. 8); "Romeo and Juliet" (through Sept. 9); and "As You Like It" (through Sept. 7)

Tickets • $20-$75, at 800-PLAYTIX or

At the Randall L. Jones Theatre • "Guys and Dolls" (through Sept. 1); "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (through Oct. 21); "Treasure Island" (through Sept. 2); "The Tavern" (Sept. 19-Oct. 21)

Tickets • $32-$60 ($4 additional fee for "Guys and Dolls"), at 800-PLAYTIX or

At the Eileen and Allen Anes Studio Theatre • "William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (abridged)" (July 28 -Oct. 21); "How to Fight Loneliness" (Aug. 25-Oct. 14)

Tickets • $50-$54 for Anes Theatre shows, at 1-800-PLAYTIX or

Greenshow • Free shows at 7 p.m.

More info •