Coriolanus blows up Bard on the Beach

The 30th Season of Bard on the Beach hosted its final opening night of the season this weekend as Coriolanus made its debut on the Howard Family Stage. Due to solid early ticket sales, Bard on the Beach has already added 7 more performances to the run, now ending September 21st.

The Company of Coriolanus photo: Tim Matheson

Quite literally fighting its way on to the stage, the drama brings battles to the Bard. One of Shakespeare’s last tragedies, Coriolanus, based on the life of Roman general Caius Marcius Coriolanus deals with the timeless topics of war, peace, family and politics. Dean Paul Gibson (The Winter’s Tale, 2017 and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2014) returns to the Festival to direct Bard’s first ever production of Coriolanus.

“I am honoured to be directing Coriolanus on the Howard Family Stage, featuring a female protagonist,” says director Dean Paul Gibson. “This production for me is an artistic expression of the times we live in, with the evolution of ancient stories for modern times. This is the first professional presentation of Coriolanus in Vancouver, and there couldn’t be a better time for us to present this work with a strong female lead.”

Coriolanus : Marci T. House & Moya O’Connell photo: Tim Matheson

Gibson has cast Moya O’Connell (Macbeth & Timon of Athens, 2018) as Coriolanus, who carries much of the play on her capable shoulders. The rapid fire dialogue (sometimes so fast it’s hard to keep up) and choreographed fight scenes make the role both physically and verbally taxing. Coriolanus’s mother, Volumnia, played by Colleen Wheeler holds great influence over both her daughter and Rome’s storyline. Rounding out a trifecta of powerful women, rival general Aufidius is played by Marci T. House.

Mirroring present day politics, the male characters in this production are those more concerned with retaining their power by wrapping themselves in the pretense of the good of the people and country. They turn out to be master manipulators and are able to whip citizens into a frenzy that benefits the short term but result in long term tragedy.

Gibson notes, “Flavours of past warfare, along with some very modern political maneuvering, serve to remind us that the original story, with its division, tribalism and social schisms, still resonates hundreds of years later – as if it’s been pulled from the latest news report. It proves yet again that we are drawn to repeat our transgressions with no thought of our history.”

The intimate Howard Family Stage along with Gibson’s direction brings the audience into the action as the players use all angles and levels of the theatre. Pam Johnson’s simple but effective set design along with Alan Brodie’s lighting (note: strobe lights are used often) create the high-drama required of the tragedy. Lisa Stevens and Robinson Wilson choreograph the flights to create the drama of warfare but also the fluidity of dance. Barbara Clayden’s costumes are reminiscent of a Starship Troopers-like dystopian world. The creative team and direction create an onstage civilization that’s as suitably timeless as the story itself.

Coriolanus plays on the Howard Family Stage at Bard on the Beach until September 21, 2019. For tickets and showtimes visit bardonthebeach.org

Bard On The Beach : Shakespeare In Love

Shakespeare in Love Charlie Gallant & Ghazal Azarbad Image: Emily Cooper

Most patrons of Bard On The Beach, have a love for Shakespeare but for the 30th Anniversary season, the Festival has flipped the script to present Shakespeare In Love.

Directed by Daryl Cloran, (director of The Beatles themed As You Like It from Bard’s 2018 season), this adaptation of the 1998 Academy Award-winning film of the same name, Shakespeare In Love takes the audience behind the scenes to look, with creative historical liberties, at a period in Will Shakespeare’s life. Suffering from writer’s block while trying to write his next play, “Romeo & Ethel The Pirates Daughter”, Will must overcome battling producers, actors egos, and noble rivals for the love of his muse. Although Shakespeare In Love is not written by the Bard, Lee Hall has adapted the original screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard into a fast-paced comedy, filled with the familiar tropes and themes found in original works. The play within the play unwraps the script of Romeo & Juliet, as it’s supposedly being written by Will, corresponding with his love affair with muse Viola.

Shakespeare In Love
l-r: Chirag Naik, Jennifer Lines & Paul Moniz de Sá
Photo: Tim Matheson

When remaking a well known and acclaimed work, it can often be difficult to not be compared to the original actors in the source material, but the company of Bard on the Beach makes these characters, both historic and fictitious, their own. Charlie Gallant is charming as befuddled but romantic leading man, Will Shakespeare. In her dual turn as Will’s love interest, Viola de Lessep and her male alter-ego Thomas Kent the actor, Ghazal Azarbad makes you forget about Gwyneth Paltrow’s Best Actress performance. Regal Jennifer Lines channels Dame Judy Dench as her majesty Queen Elizabeth I. Bard vets Scott Bellis, Warren Kimmel, Andrew McNee, Kamyar Pazandeh and Chirag Naik chew up the scenery to provide some great comedic moments in contrast to Will and Viola’s Romeo & Juliet love story.

Ghazal Azarbad & Charlie Gallant Photo: Tim Matheson

Shakespeare In Love incorporates enough of Romeo & Juliet to keep Bard lovers happy while bringing a contemporary take on Shakespeare to the BMO Mainstage at Bard on the Beach.

Shakespeare In Love plays in repertoire with Taming of the Shrew at Bard on the Beach, under the Tents at Vanier Park (behind Museum of Vancouver) until September 18, 2019. Information and tickets are available online at bardonthebeach.org.

Bard On The Beach : Taming Of The Shrew

The 30th Season of Bard on the Beach is underway, with Taming of the Shrew starting the season under the tents at Vanier Park. There are few spots in Vancouver nicer to spend a summer evening, add in a new adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s classic comedies by a brilliant company and it’s a near perfect theatre experience.

Bard on the Beach Taming of the Shrew Image: Emily Cooper

Taming of the Shrew tells the story of the fair Bianca and her sister, foul Katherine (Kate), and their suitors. Lady Baptista, the sister’s mother, has decreed that Bianca may not marry until after the elder Katherine is suitably married, much to the chagrin of Bianca’s many admirers. Seeing mutual benefit from working together, Bianca’s beaus conspire to find a husband for the shrewish Kate. Success comes with the arrival of Petruchio, who, in need of her large dowry, steps up to the challenge. Upon marriage, Petruchio ‘breaks’ Kate with a series of psychological gamesmanship and returns to Padua victorious in his taming of the shrew…or was he?

Shifted from late 16th Century Italy to the late 1800s America West, Director Lois Anderson has created a play that fits well into its new era. Costume Designer Mara Gottler and Set Designer Cory Sincennes have crafted a look straight out of Gunsmoke.

Jennifer Lines & Andrew McNee | Photo: Tim Matheson
Taming Of The Shrew
Jennifer Lines & Andrew McNee
Photo: Tim Matheson

Leading the cast, Jennifer Lines and Andrew McNee play off of each nicely as Kate and Petruchio. Ms Lines’ intense and dramatic Kate contrasts with McNee’s comedic skills and mugging. Kate Besworth’s sweet, giggling Bianca was a contrast to Line’s abrupt character. Kamyar Pazandeh’s Lucentio, stood out amongst Bianca’s many suitors. Portraying his servant Triano, Chirag Naik is always dependable, both the character and actor.

At 2.5 hours, the light comedy is nicely paced to keep the show moving and manages to avoid feeling long. See for yourself why Taming of the Shrew makes for an enjoyable Spaghetti Western / Shakespearean mash-up.

Taming of the Shrew runs, in repertoire with Shakespeare In Love, until September 21, 2019 at Bard on the Beach tents at Vanier Park (behind Museum of Vancouver). Information and tickets are available online at bardonthebeach.org.

Bard on the Beach announces its 30th Season

Before the current season of Bard on the Beach comes to a close on September 28, 2018, Artistic Director Christopher Gaze has announced the lineup for the 2019 Festival’s 30th Anniversary Season.

Running in repertory, from June 5 to September 21, 2019, on Bard’s two stages; BMO MainStage and the Howard Family Stage, the 2019 season’s plays include the return of a record-setting Bard hit, an internationally-popular romantic comedy, a cross-cultural romance and a powerful political drama.

The BMO MainStage features:

The Taming of the Shrew, running June 5 – September 21, 2019.?A revival of the Bard crowd-pleasing, ‘spaghetti western’ from 2007. Set in the Wild West, and staring Jennifer Lines and Andrew McNee as Kate and Petruchio in a battle of wits, wills and gun-slinging, directed by Lois Anderson.

and

Shakespeare in Love, running June 11 – September 18, 2019. ?Based on the Academy Award-winning screenplay by Mark Norman & Tom Stoppard, adapted for the stage by Lee Hall and directed by Citadel Theatre’s Daryl Cloran. The romantic comedy, following a Young Will Shakespeare through the trials and tribulations of writer’s block in a tale of romance, mistaken identity, ruthless scheming and back stage antics.

The Howard Family Stage brings two innovative new productions to the stage:

Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, running June 28 – August 11, 2019.
Co-created and co-directed by Johnna Wright and Rohit Chokhani (Artistic Director, Diwali in BC) the play is set in India during the waning days of British occupation and sparked with south-Asian music and dance.

and

Coriolanus, running August 20 – September 15, 2019?Bard on the Beach’s first production of Coriolanus, directed by Dean Paul Gibson, is a no-holds-barred political tragedy perfectly fitting for our present political climate.

Says Bard Artistic Director Christopher Gaze: “Our 30th Season is designed to be a delight for patrons, old and new. We’ve programmed entertaining options for all, from the most loyal Shakespeare fans to those who’ve never experienced a play at Bard before.”

Advance sales of 2019 Bard Season Packs are now on sale, offering a substantial discount on tickets for all four productions. Just $159 per Pack until September 4, then Season Packs rise to $179. ?Flex Packs will go on sale in November, with single tickets following in early April, 2019.
Order Season Packs online now at bardonthebeach.org or by phone from the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559.

Go back to the 60s with As You Like It at Bard On The Beach

Bard on the Beach – As You Like It : Lindsey Angell & Nadeem Phillip

FUN, is the best word to describe As You Like It, now playing at Bard on the Beach, alternating nights with Macbeth.  While Macbeth is a brooding, dark, and classic production, As You Like It is the complete opposite; lively, bright and a mash-up Bard-Beatles musical production.

That’s right, the music of The Beatles plays a big role in director Daryl Cloran’s production for the Bard on the Beach stage.  Sure to be a summer hit,  Cloran has seamlessly moved As You Like It from the 1600s in Frances’ Forest of Arden, to the swinging 60s in the Okanagan.  Large parts of Shakespeare’s dialogue has been brilliantly replaced with the word of Lennon & McCartney. With 25 Beatles songs included in this mash-up, it is remarkable how well the music fits the story and doesn’t clash with the Bard’s comedic vision.

The romantic comedy is filled with classic Shakespearean plot devices; mistaken identities & alter-egos, difficult family dynamics, class struggles, romantic triangles, comedic sidekicks plus more to keep you laughing.  Walking into the BMO Mainstage at Bard on the Beach, the audience is greeted by an All-Star Wrestling ring, signalling that this will not be an ordinary evening of Shakespeare.  The hero Orlando, strives to better himself in life (and in the ring) but when the evil promotor, Duke Frederick finds out his parentage Orlando is exiled. In the meantime, young Orlando has fallen for the Duke’s niece Rosalind, who also comes to be banished, like her father Duke Senior, by her power hungry uncle. In the company of her cousin, Frederick’s daughter Celia flee, Rosalind taking the disguise of a young lad, Ganymeade and Celia as his sister, Aliena.  All roads lead to the Okanagan, where Duke Senior and his fellow banished nobles have founded a commune filled with peace and love. Of course nothing is simple on the path to romance, as we are reminded by Rosalind and Celia’s faithful servant, Touchstone, ‘because it’s Shakespeare’.   In the end, we of course are rewarded with the happy ending for most of the characters. 

The setting, costumes and story perfectly fit in The Beatles music, and the cast, most of whom are also the company for Macbeth, bring the music and comedy to life with flair and flares.  Nadeem Phillip brings a exuberant charm and solid vocals to his leading man Orlando. While Lindsey Angell’s Rosalind plots to connect the dots in everyone’s journey to love, her chemistry and voice pairs nicely with Nadeem making us all cheer for our lovebirds.  Harveen Sandhu as Celia standouts with her powerful vocals and charisma.  The comedic timing of Kayvon Khoshkam as the ‘Rod Stewart meets Austin Powers’ modfather, Touchstone, brings a smile and many laughs to As You Like It from start to finish.

The buzz is surely to build for As You Like It as the summer progresses so be sure to book your tickets sooner than later so not to miss out on one of the most fun evenings of theatre this season.

As You Like It runs until September 22nd at the Bard on the Beach BMO Mainstage, alternate nights with Macbeth.

Macbeth opens Bard on the Beach 2018

Macbeth

This week, the 2018 season of Bard on the Beach opened with Macbeth on the BMO Mainstage.

The famed Scottish Play, starts with the General being forewarned by a trio of witches, who prophesy that he is destined to be the King of Scots, creating a tale of ambition, treachery and murder that turns to madness and tragedy.

Directed by Chris Abraham of Toronto’s Crow’s Theatre, this production of Bard on the Beach Macbeth stars Shaw Theatre Festival veteran Ben Carlson, making his Bard debut, as Macbeth.  His Lady Macbeth is played by Moya O’Connell making a return to Bard, along with a host of other Bard veterans; Andrew Wheeler as MacDuff, Craig Erickson as Banquo, Jeff Gladstone as Malcolm and many more rounding out the able cast.

Director Abraham notes that he had in mind how this beloved play was staged in the open-air, daylight theatre in 1600s.  In contrast to the daylight of old, Abraham has created a dark production, with Carlson and O’Connell bringing must angst and madness to their roles.  Most of the main characters have a cloud of darkness and tragedy hanging over them, which does make the lighter moments of the comedy relief characters slightly jarring in their abrupt change in tempo.

The themes of loss, ambition, jealousy, suspicion, even the mysticism of the weird sisters, are treated differently in today’s society, all things that affect the production and the audiences viewpoint allowing even the most historically authentic of stagings to take on its own life.  The set, designed by Pam Johnson, plays on the open air of the BMO Mainstage to recreate the feeling of Shakespeare’s historic Globe Theatre.  With Christine Reimer’s Shakespearean costumes bringing another touch of 17th century authenticity the production tries to transport the audience to how it would have been originally staged, albeit with women playing the female roles, not men, as was required in Elizabethan London.  Running at nearly three hours, including intermission, Bard on the Beach’s Macbeth is a long but worthy show, and probably as close to an authentic Shakespearean experience as we’ll get in Vancouver.

For full cast and crew details, showtimes and special performances, please visit bardonthebeach.org/2018/macbeth

Shylock joins Bard on the Beach 2017

As the 2017 Bard on the Beach continues bringing Shakespeare to Vanier Park, a provocative, contemporary work, Shylock, joins the repertoire.   Written by BC writer Mark Leiren-Young, Shylock plays on the Howard Family Stage until September 15th. The play premiered at Bard on the Beach in 1996 and has since been performed around the world to popular and critical acclaim.

 Echoing current affairs, Sherry J. Yoon directs this explosive one-man monologue about censorship, racism and the role of theatre as a reflection of our own present-day attitudes and thoughts. Star Warren Kimmel, who is also playing Shylock in The Merchant of Venice on the Howard Family Stage. Within the play, Kimmel plays the character of Jon Davies, an actor and a Jew, condemned by his own community for his portrayal of the Jewish moneylender in a traditional production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Davies uses his final post-show talkback to raise challenging questions about censorship in general and the political correctness of Merchant itself.

 Shylock was one of the first original works we presented at Bard, under the direction of John Juliani”, notes Christopher Gaze, Bard Artistic Director. “With our current staging of The Merchant of Venice, it’s the perfect time to bring Shylock back as a companion piece.”

Adds director Sherry J. Yoon, “Though Mark’s play was written over 20 years ago, Shylock seems more relevant today than ever. From the historical references in literature, to extremist views that have simultaneously polarized and united us, the irreverent humour in this work will resonate.” Leiren-Young, as is his practice whenever the piece is produced, has provided contemporary updates to help link the story directly to today’s political and social climate.

Shylock plays in repertory on the Howard Family Stage with The Merchant of Venice and The Two Gentlemen of Verona, from today until September 15th. Visit bardonthebeach.org for tickets and information