A family affair – Utah Shakespeare Festival

By Liz Armstrong

Family is certainly one of the main themes of music Ragtime Utah is playing at the Shakespeare Festival this summer. There are families in three underlying story lines: Dad, Mom, The Little Boy, Little Brother, and Grandpa’s upper-class white new Rochelle family; The Jewish immigrant family of Tateh and his daughter The Little Girl; And ragtime musician Colehouse Walker Jr., Sarah and their baby boy’s black Harlem family.

But there are also families behind the scenes – literally. Four members of the Galigan-Steerle family are performing Ragtime. Father Aaron Galigan-Steerle has played the role of Tateh, mother Shannon is in the pair, their nine-year-old son Devin the Little Boy and seven-year-old Joe the Little Girl.

“It was a pleasant surprise for all of us. So that we can work together as a family and get back on stage, ”Shannon said. “It wasn’t something we were looking for, but it wasn’t when the opportunity came to us.

Aaron and Shannon started acting as kids. Shannon started acting professionally with her parents and sister at the age of three and she continued in the theater and met Aaron when they performed. Lost Colony Together in 2002.

Aaron 200 started working on the festival in 2004, when he was cast Plaid forever And My beautiful lady, While graduating from Pennsylvania State University.

“It was a dream to work for this festival, where I played a supporting role, and gradually over the years I was able to play this bigger role like Dromio of Syracuse. Error comedy And in Tateh RagtimeAaron said.

Shannon and Aaron consider the festival their artistic abode, where Aaron has acted in eight seasons for seventeen years, during which time Shannon has worked in house management, at the box office and now as an actress.

“We had a nice trip with the festival because we had a season that we were dating, the next year we got engaged, the next time we were married, and we’ve been here with kids for years. Shannon said.

They even planned their wedding in Cedar City, buying their wedding ring from a jewelry store on Main Street, just a block from the festival grounds. They were married in September 2005. Aaron and Shannon both agree that Cedar City and the Festival have a special place in their hearts.

“It’s very meaningful to have this experience and give children the opportunity to work with an organization that is committed, collaborative and empathetic,” Shannon said. “This leads the actors, the creative team and the crew with empathy and surprisingly the passion to wear other people’s shoes.”

Their journey became even more special when Brian Vaughn, the festival’s artistic director, called and asked Aaron if he was interested in playing Tateh. Ragtime.

Aaron immediately said yes to the role, and the stars came together when Brian (voiced by Melinda Fundstein) and Aaron realized that their children were the right age to play the role. Ragtime. Even more perfect? Shannon was keen to take part in the festival’s acting company, and so the kids and Shannon auditioned and were delighted when they heard that they all had roles in the play.

The process of auditioning, rehearsing, and now performing live on stage for the 30th anniversary season was going smoothly, things were falling apart as it was meant to be.

The epidemic gave their children the opportunity to complete the 2021 academic year online, making it possible for children to finish school online from 7 a.m. to noon and then rehearse in the afternoon and evening for the festival.

“The last day of their school was the day before our first preview. . . If we didn’t have that option, I’m not sure we could have stayed here, “said Aaron.

After the festival season ends, the Galigan-Steerl family will move to Pennsylvania, where Aaron recently took over as head of musical theater at Slippery Rock University.

“It’s great to see Shannon and the kids blooming and rejoicing after a year of separation and isolation,” Aaron said. “It’s been great to be part of a community and our kids have grown up fast.”

Although this is Devin and Joe’s first show, they have impressed both their parents and audience members with their performances.

“They love musical instruments, they sing it around the house. Devin shows how consistent and committed he can be to things, and Joe stays within the character, sometimes secretly advertising to Aaron on stage, ”Shannon said.

Aaron said he didn’t teach Joe ad-lib, but the first time he turned to her on stage and added a line, she was completely “lost in mind” when he spoke to her completely at the age of seven.

When asked which is the best part of acting Ragtime Being with his family, Joe replied that he was glad he got the whole ceremony in his father’s arms.

“I can act with my family, and it’s nice to be on the show with them,” Devin said. “And since this is my first show, it’s very helpful to know that they’re doing the same thing and I know they’re close.”

Although acting as a family brings its challenges, and Shannon and Aaron said it was “completely unreasonable” to be ready to leave home on time for shows and rehearsals.

However, the good is much more than the bad, and this talented family has grown closer to each other because of the opportunity, saying that there is something special about making each other shine.

For us? We see how strong love can be between family members, and the characters of that warm feeling take place on stage and right in the hearts of the audience, which adds a little more goodness to the world.

The 2021 season of the festival is from June 21 to October 9. There will be dramas Pericles, Richard III, The Comedy of Errors, The Pirates of Penance, Ragtime, Symboline, Intimate Clothing, And Horrible comedy. Tickets are available by calling 00-Platix or by visiting www.bard.org.

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