Much Ado About Nothing launches the 28th season of Bard on the Beach in Vanier Park, but it may not be the version you remember.
Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival begins its 28th season in beautiful Vanier Park on June 1, with an exciting lineup of plays, concerts and special events. All tickets for the Bard on the Beach’s 2017 season, which runs from June 1 to September 23, are now on sale. Check out the full list of events, below!
After a month-long run at Stanley Theatre, Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery comes to the Main Stage at Surrey Arts Centre. There’s no wonder why it’s made its way out here, this play is hilarious. The acting is great, the story is fast-paced and farcical, and the directing is inspired.
Alex Zahara plays Sherlock Holmes, and I can’t help but be reminded of Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockhart. He’s both outlandish and absurd with the quirks audiences have come to expect from Holmes, but with a flair for the dramatic not unlike Shakespeare. Mark Weatherley as Dr. Watson holds the whole show together, “I’m not dead” is probably the best line of the whole production. His comedic timing and delivery is pointed and exact, while still feeling very natural.
After a month-long run at Stanley Theatre, Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery comes to the Main Stage at Surrey Arts Centre.
Five actors play over 40 comical characters, filling the stage with suspects, allies, and heirs in this zany whodunit based on the Arthur Conan Doyle classic. When the wealthy Henry Baskerville is threatened by the fable of a bloodthirsty hound on the moors, Holmes and Watson are on the case to sniff out the culprit. The game’s afoot in this hilarious thriller that’s anything but elementary!
Director John Murphy says, “Baskerville is definitely a comedic romp, but the play also maintains the original story’s gothic feel, so there are moments when we hope to scare the bejesus out of people.” Perfect for the spooky month of Halloween.
Baskerville runs October 12-22, Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm, Saturday and Sunday at 4pm. Tickets are $25 to $55, including all fees. Box Office: 604-501-5566 | 13750–88 Avenue. Tickets Online: tickets.surrey.ca.
The 28th Bard season, running from June 1 to September 23, 2017, features four Shakespeare plays plus a short-run contemporary drama; together they will take audiences from ancient Greece to modern-day Venice and Vancouver. Opening the Festival on the BMO Mainstage is a new production of an audience favourite, Much Ado About Nothing, set in 1959 Italy and inspired by the era’s extravagantly entertaining Italian films, with John Murphy (Measure For Measure, 2013) directing. Alternating with Much Ado is The Winter’s Tale, a magical and poignant family drama, set in ancient Greece and Bohemia and directed by Bard’s Associate Artistic Director Dean Paul Gibson (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2014).
On the Howard Family Stage, award-winning Canadian actor-director Nigel Shawn Williams will direct a provocative new staging of The Merchant of Venice, set in contemporary Italy; it will alternate with a new production of Shakespeare’s romantic comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona, directed by Bard Artistic Associate Scott Bellis (The Comedy of Errors, 2015). Rounding out the 2017 lineup is a short-run production in September to complement The Merchant of Venice. Shylock is a single-hander written by BC’s Mark Leiren-Young and first produced at Bard in 1996. It imagines a modern-day actor playing Shylock, who wrestles with the timely issues of censorship and political correctness.
Updates on Bard on the Beach’s 2017 Festival will be posted regularly at bardonthebeach.org. Advance sales of 2017 Season Packs begin on Monday, Sept 26, 2016, offering a substantial discount on voucher packs for either four or five productions. Single tickets go on sale in April, 2017 through the Bard website or through Bard’s Box Office at 604-739-0559.
This was an inventive and fast paced season for Bard on the Beach. With three comical, crafty plays and one major drama they were certainly off to a good start.
My experience of the season began with a steampunk Comedy of Errors. For such a convoluted play, this was the perfect vessel. The constantly moving set, outlandish costumes, and strange performances easily heightened the absurdity. It’s full of slapstick humour and silly moments, with lots of space for the embellishments that director Scott Bellis used so well. Although not one of Shakespeare’s finest works it was a good start to the season, especially for actors Sereana Malani (Adriana) and Ben Elliott (Antipholus of Syracuse). Malani captured my attention every time she was on stage. Elliott, who has proved himself musically in many other Bard plays, was uproariously funny as the confused newcomer.
King Lear was the second main stage production, and it largely fell flat. This is a massive production to put on but the script can be cumbersome to do without losing audience attention, and unfortunately for some it did just that. At the start, Benedict Campbell fell into the problem of overemphasizing every line, but by the second act he seemed passive and afraid of the madness and anger required of him. The sisters (Jennifer Lines, Regan and Colleen Wheeler, Goneril) kept too many of their Tempest mannerisms for this much more serious play, getting laughs in a play that should not provide them. Michael Blake (Edmund) and Nathan Schmidt (Edgar) had some of the most interesting moments, each providing thoroughly nuanced portraits of their characters.
On the Howard Family Stage, Love’s Labour’s Lost took us on a rollicking, musical 1920s adventure that hit the jazz classics and easily express the character’s emotions. Chicago in the Roaring Twenties bring brilliant costumes and the speakeasy vibe that pairs well with Ben Elliot’s musical direction. Josh Epstein (Berowne) stands out as the king’s friend and lover of Rosaline. His voice is beautifully rich and his emotions are immediately evident. The slight audience interaction is both funny and complementary to the 20’s style, as this play is more an adaptation than a direct reproduction of Shakespeare’s creation.
King Lear’s actors took to the Howard Family Stage for C.C. Humphries novel Shakespeare’s Rebel. Set in Elizabethan London around Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and a potential revolution, John Lawley (Benedict Campbell) must separate himself from his past on the battlefield, help his friend William Shakespeare to write the play Hamlet, and clean himself up to win back his beloved Tess and son Ned. With so many pots and subplots throughout, it was amazing to see this novel put together so masterfully on stage. Although I found Campbell too overwhelming as King Lear, he seemed to find his footing in this production. This is where Jennifer Lines (Tess) and Colleen Wheeler (Queen Elizabeth) shine. Lines is feisty and smart, a clear choice for Lawley to pursue, while Wheeler masters the drama of Elizabeth as I hoped she would have in King Lear. The Bard’s own Christopher Gaze has directed a veritable star for the 2015 season, engaging and funny without overwhelming audiences who are used to Shakespeare’s own writings.
Both of the smaller stage performances were my favourite for the year, drawing my attention back again and again.
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival continues its 26th season with the world stage premiere of Shakespeare’s Rebel by award winning author C.C. Humphreys. The play will run Tuesdays through Sundays from July 2 to September 19 on the Howard Family Stage, in the 270-seat Douglas Campbell Theatre Tent in Vanier Park.
It’s 1599, and London is on the brink of revolution. With rebellion in Ireland threatening to open the door to a Spanish invasion, Queen Elizabeth (Colleen Wheeler) has enlisted Robert Devereux (John Murphy), Earl of Essex, to quash the rebels. Essex calls on his most trusted ally, John Lawley (Benedict Campbell) to join him on the campaign, but John has quit the battlefield to join his friends at the Globe Theatre, where his son Ned (Chirag Naik) is following in his father’s footsteps as an actor. All Lawley wants is to win back his beloved Tess (Jennifer Lines) from Sir Samuel D’Esparr (David Marr), bond with his son, and above all be free of Essex. To make this happen, John must dodge both Essex and his adversary for the Queen’s affections, Sir Robert Cecil (Robert Klein), as well as Cecil’s right hand man, Thomas Waller (Ian Butcher). Meanwhile, his oldest friend, Will Shakespeare (Anousha Alamian) is struggling to finish Hamlet, and the Queen has requested a patriotic play given the country’s safety is at stake. Under the direction of Richard Burbage (Michael Blake), young Ned prepares for his roles on stage, while the Queen’s court becomes consumed by power and politics, conspiracy and rebellion. The Queen’s lady in waiting, Sarah (Andrea Rankin), is working with both sides as those around her are caught up in double dealings and are ultimately forced to choose a side (Craig Erickson, Declan O’Reilly, Nathan Schmidt). Will Lawley outrun his demons as he’s propelled into a deadly conspiracy that could destroy him – and England?
Marshall McMahen’s innovative stage design takes us from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to the wild Irish moors, paired with Christine Reimer’sbeautiful hand-worked period costumes and Adrian Muir’s evocative lighting design. The dynamic onstage battles are led by Fight Director Nicholas Harrison. Through authentic period instruments, Murray Price’s lilting soundscape transports audiences back to Elizabethan England. Christopher Gaze, Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach, directs this world premiere by noted author C.C. Humphreys. Assisting with the adaptation of the best–selling novel for the stage is Dramaturg Martin Kinch. The Apprentice Director for Shakespeare’s Rebel is Jacquie Loewen.
Performance details for Shakespeare’s Rebel are as follows:
• Previews: July 2, 3, 5, 10, 11; OPENING NIGHT: Sunday July 12 at 7:30pm
• Runs Tuesdays through Sundays, July 2 to September 19, on the Howard Family Stage in the Douglas Campbell Theatre Tent
• Plays in repertory with a musical adaptation of Love’s Labour’s Lost which begins in previews on June 19
• Talkback Tuesdays July 14, 28, August 11, 25, September 1 – Q&A session with members of the Shakespeare’s Rebel cast following the performance.
Shakespeare’s Rebellectures (Bard Explored Series) with C.C. Humphreys: Saturday July 18 at 11:30am, Monday August 10 at 7:30pm
Ticket prices for 2015 include all applicable fees and taxes and begin at $26. The Global BC Youth Price is also available. Early booking is recommended for best seat selection; many performances sell out in advance. Full pricing information, the performance schedule and site and event details are on the Bard website at bardonthebeach.org. To book tickets, call the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559 or (toll free) 1-877-739-0559 or order online through the Bard website.
Bard on the Beach gratefully acknowledges its 2015 Season Sponsor, Goldcorp, and the production sponsor of Shakespeare’s Rebel, Lonetree Cider.
King Lear comes to the BMO Mainstage of the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival June 18 to September 20. In collaboration with Theatre Calgary, it is directed by their Artistic Director, Dennis Garnhum. In a tale of family disputes and conspiracies, King Lear tells the story of an aging king and the events that eventually lead to his madness.
King Lear (Benedict Campbell), the King of Britain, has decided to retire and divide his kingdom between his three daughters. When asked how much they love him, his eldest daughters, Goneril (Colleen Wheeler) and Regan (Jennifer Lines), shower him with words of love. His youngest, Cordelia (Andrea Rankin), is banished when she does not follow suit. The Earl of Kent (John Murphy) objects to Lear’s treatment of Cordelia, and is banished as well. The Duke of Burgundy (Chirag Naik) rejects the disinherited daughter and Cordelia is instead married to the King of France (Craig Erickson), who admires her honest nature. Meanwhile, the Earl of Gloucester (David Marr) is told by his illegitimate son, Edmund (Michael Blake), that his older son Edgar (Nathan Schmidt) is plotting to murder him. Edmund persuades Edgar to flee for his life and he goes into hiding as a beggar named “Poor Tom”. Having given up his kingdom, Lear plans to stay with Goneril and Regan for one month at a time. It is then that he learns that his older daughters are conspiring against him with the help of their husbands, the Duke of Albany (Declan O’Reilly) and the Duke of Cornwall (Robert Klein). Distraught, Lear wanders out into a wild storm, where he is led by Kent and his Fool (Scott Bellis) to a hovel where Edgar, as “Poor Tom”, has been hiding. Gloucester is punished for secretly arranging for Lear to be sent to Dover, where Cordelia has landed with the French army to fight on the king’s behalf. As war between England and France looms, Edmund takes advantage of both Goneril and Regan’s growing attraction to him. Lear is finally reunited with Cordelia, but soon all sides must meet on the battlefield. Anousha Alamian (Knight) and Ian Butcher (Oswald) also join the cast for this magnificent tragedy.
Music Designer Dave Pierce’s original score, paired with Pam Johnson’s versatile set design and Gerald King’s powerful lighting, establish the tone for audiences and aid the transition from opulence to a barren wasteland. That transition is accentuated by Deitra Kalyn’s costume design, using colour and texture to illustrate Lear’s journey, while Shari Wattling lends her expertise as the production’s dramaturg. Fight Directors Haysam Kadri and Karl H. Sine have created spectacular fight scenes, set to Pierce’s score. Director Dennis Garnhum, along with apprentice director, Mike Griffin, showcase the play’s heartbreaks, betrayals and bloodshed with a fresh take on this classic. Production Stage Manager Stephen Courtenay is assisted by Kelly Barker (Assistant Stage Manager) and Alexandra Shewan (Apprentice Stage Manager).
Performance details for King Lear are as follows:
- Previews: June 18, 19, 20, 24; OPENING NIGHT: Thursday, June 25 at 7:30pm
• Runs Tuesdays through Sundays, June 18 to September 20, on the BMO Mainstage in Vanier Park
• Plays in repertory with The Comedy of Errors on the BMO Mainstage which begins previews June 4
• Talkback Tuesdays: Tuesday evenings from June 30 to September 1 – Q&A session with members of the cast following the performance
• Wine Wednesdays – an intimate pre-show wine tasting in the Bard Marquee on July 15, August 12 & September 9 @ 6pm
Tickets for King Lear and all other Bard plays and events are available now. Ticket prices for 2015 include all applicable fees and taxes and begin at $26. The Global BC Youth Price is also available. Early booking is recommended for best seat selection; many performances sell out in advance. Full pricing information, the performance schedule and site and event details are on the Bard on the Beach website at bardonthebeach.org. To book tickets, call the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559 or (toll free) 1-877-739-0559 or order online through the Bard website.