SUU Community Reads Gathers in Anticipation of Utah Shakespeare Festival Season

Published: May 18, 2023 | Read Time: 2 minutes

Derek Charles Livingston and Lisa Quoresimo engage Community Reads attendees in conversation about Jane Austen’s Emma.Cedar City, UT - Southern Utah University (SUU) Community Education and Utah Shakespeare Festival recently hosted a Community Reads discussion at the Cedar City Library revolving around the beloved novel “Emma” by Jane Austen. This event was designed to encourage the community to read the popular love story and engage in conversation in anticipation for the Festival’s production of “Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical,” which
premieres later this summer.

The facilitators of the event were SUU Assistant Professor of Musical Theatre Lisa Quoresimo
and Utah Shakespeare Festival Interim Artistic Director/Director of New Play Development Derek Charles Livingston. Quoresimo shared information of Austen’s life and writings while
Livingston contributed theater and play production experience, drawing primarily from the musical about “Emma.”

“I was delighted to take part in this chat about ‘Emma,’” said Quoresimo. “Everyone offered passionate opinions about the characters and themes in the book. Some attendees were new to
Austen, and some brought a wealth of knowledge about her life and writings, all of which made for a lively discussion with everyone making new discoveries.”

The novel is set in Highbury, England, in the early 19th century. It focuses on protagonist Emma Woodhouse, a head-strong young woman whose misplaced confidence in her matchmaking abilities causes several romantic misadventures in her friends’ lives as well as with herself.

Livingston also remarked on how he enjoyed the discussion and looked forward to seeing the Community Reads attendees at the Festival this summer.

“Sitting in a room with local Austen lovers and having such thought-provoking and fun conversations about ‘Emma’ was a lovely experience,” Livingston said. “I can't wait to see these folks after they've had a chance to see our production.”

The Festival’s production of “Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical” begins June 22 and runs through October 7 in the Randall L. Jones Theatre. It is directed and choreographed by Valerie Rachelle and features Allie Babich as Emma Woodhouse, Rhett Guter as George Knightley, Laura Brennan as Harriet Smith, and Chris Mixon as Mr. Woodhouse. For more information or to purchase tickets visit or call 800-PLAYTIX.

Books are made available at no cost due to a generous donation from the Cedar City Rotary Club. Community Reads is a collaboration between SUU Community Education, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Cedar City Library and Cedar City Rotary Club.

SUU’s Community Education program offers classes, workshops and events for the purpose of generating fun, cultural and educational opportunities for those who love to learn. While increasing participant knowledge, programs provide non-credit experiences for community members wishing to develop new hobbies, skills and areas of personal interest. For more information, or to register for the next Community Reads event, visit or call SUU Community Education at (435) 865-8259.

The Utah Shakespeare Festival is a Tony and Emmy Award-winning regional repertory theatre founded in 1961. It is one of the oldest and largest Shakespearean festivals in North America and welcomes approximately 100,000 visitors annually. Productions feature works of Shakespeare, other classical works, comedies, musicals, and dramas, plus free nightly Greenshows, orientations, seminars, backstage tours, and more.

Tags: Community and Professional Development

Contact Information:

Contact the Office of Marketing Communication