Otello opened at Vancouver Opera Festival with impressive sets and performances


The first season of Vancouver’s Opera Festival opened with Otello, one of the most popular and well-loved operas performed today.

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Bard on the Beach begins their 27th season on June 3rd


Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival begins its 27th season in Vanier Park on June 3, with an exciting lineup of plays, concerts and special events. All tickets for Bard on the Beach are currently on sale for the 2016 season, which runs from June 3 to September 24.

The Festival’s summer-long celebration of Shakespeare starts with ROMEO AND JULIET on the BMO Mainstage, with Kim Collier (Hamlet, 2013) returning to Bard to direct this timeless romantic tragedy. It alternates with Bard’s Jessie Award-winning 2012 production of THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR. This huge audience favourite is full of high-spirited comedy and live performances of classic 60s popular music. Johnna Wright is back to direct, this time on the BMO Mainstage, along with many of the original actors.

On the Howard Family Stage, in the Douglas Campbell Theatre, two of Bard’s best-known and award-winning actors make their Bard directorial debuts. Bob Frazer directs the tragedy OTHELLO, setting the play’s jealousy and manipulation amidst the racism and violence of the American Civil War. Lois Anderson directs a mythical and exotic setting of PERICLESShakespeare’s adventurous tale of a hero’s quest to find love, family and the meaning of life.

Special Events for the 2016 Season:

  • Bard-B-Q & FireworksSaturday, July 23Wednesday July 27 & Saturday, July 30 @ 5pm – includes play, dinner, on-site entertainment including a world-champion pipe band, and exclusive fireworks viewing. Tickets from $95
  • Chor Leoni: Mane Stage: Mondays, June 20 & 27 @ 2pm & 7:30pm
  • Wine Wednesdays: July 13, August 10 & September 7 @ 6pm. $21 (must purchase play ticket for same evening).
  • Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at Bard: Mondays, July 11 & 18 @ 7:30pm
  • Opera & Arias: The Magic Flute: A costumed concert staging; Mondays, August 29 & September 5 @ 2pm & 7:30pm
  • Exploring Shakespeare Talks: Delve deeper into each play’s story and background with Simon Fraser University’s Paul Budra. Saturdays, June 11 and 25July 16 and August 13 @ 11am
  • Salon SeriesNew this season, behind-the-scenes panel discussions. July 18August 29 and September 5 @ 7pm
  • Talkback Tuesdays: free post-show discussions following Tuesday performances in both theatres. July 5 – August 30
  • Family Nights: Lively pre-show activities, family package pricing available: July 6, August 3 and August 31 @ 6pm

Tickets for Bard on the Beach’s 27th season are on sale starting April 6. Ticket prices for 2016 include all applicable fees and taxes and begin at $20. Early booking is recommended for best seat selection; note many performances sell out in advance. The full performance schedule, site information and play and special events details are on the Bard website at bardonthebeach.org. To book tickets, order online through the Bard website or call the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559 or (toll free) 1-877-739-0559.

POV opens their 2015/16 season with a captivating Otello


Spectacular set design and exquisitely detailed costuming is front and centre in Pacific Opera Victoria’s season opening production of Otello, matched by the wonderfully elaborate and balanced orchestra led by Timothy Vernon.

The choice to use video footage throughout the play as a visual location cue was smart, easily blending into the otherwise well developed sets. The addition of columns in the later acts create a visual reminder of the convoluted story unfolding, and the raised stage is easily adapted to each scene’s purpose.

Lithuanian Kristian Benedikt has become a master of portraying Otello, and does not disappoint in this production. His range of emotional expression made Otello’s conflicted, disturbed soul easily accessible. Both powerful and vulnerable, he convinced us of all the failings Otello’s jealous mind has.

Act 3: Iago (Todd Thomas) promises Otello (Kristian Benedikt) that he will provide proof of Desdemona's infidelity: Otello is to hide and listen as Iago gossips with Cassio. Image courtesy of Pacific Opera Victoria

Act 3: Iago (Todd Thomas) promises Otello (Kristian Benedikt)
that he will provide proof of Desdemona’s infidelity:
Otello is to hide and listen as Iago gossips with Cassio.
Image courtesy of Pacific Opera Victoria

Despite Benedikt’s consistency, Todd Thomas’ Iago stood out as the central figure of this retelling. Through his powerful voice and captivating presence on stage, he drew the audience into his story for dramatic retellings of his plan and insight into his character. It can be hard to find the nuance in a personification of evil, yet Thomas provided just that. Whether his whispered interactions with Otello or his roughness with his wife, Iago is the bigger-than-life villain this production needed.

Leslie Ann Bradley (Desdemona) was the epitome of the romantic female character. Her voice was sweet and ideal for the production, and she had a wonderful connection with Otello. However, her scenes in the final act dragged a little too long. What she needed was another Otello to play off of and react against, but it was missing by the end.

After such an engaging and fantastic night, I’m looking forward to February and the next POV production: The Barber of Seville.

Bard on the Beach Announces 2016 Season


Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival has announced a 2016 season that will showcase the genius and popular appeal of the great English playwright, in a year of world-wide celebrations marking the 400thanniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The 27th Bard season, sponsored by Goldcorp and running from June 3 toSeptember 24, 2016, will bring two proven audience favourites to the BMO Mainstage. Opening the Festival isRomeo and Juliet, the timeless story of a pair of young star-crossed lovers whose families are bitterly divided; Bard’s powerful and sensuous new production will be directed by Siminovitch Prize winner and past Bard director Kim Collier (Hamlet, 2013). Alternating with Romeo and Juliet is the Jessie Award-winning production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, back by popular demand after a sold-out 2012 Bard run and re-imagined this season for the larger BMO Mainstage. The music-filled production is set in 1968 Windsor, Ontario and will be directed again by Johnna Wright; its production sponsor is Polygon Homes.


On the Howard Family Stage, veteran Bard actor Bob Frazer (Macbeth, 2012) will direct a provocative new staging ofOthello, with its action unfolding during the American Civil War. The production sponsor is Lonetree Cider. Othello will alternate with a new production of Pericles, set in an ancient, mythical pagan kingdom and directed by Lois Anderson, another award-winning veteran of Bard’s acting companies (Kate, The Taming of the Shrew, 2012). Pericles’ production sponsor is BlueShore Financial.


“We go into our 27th season while the world is honouring and celebrating Shakespeare, and this set of plays will showcase his genius,” says Artistic Director Christopher Gaze. “We are fortunate to have engaged such an outstanding team of theatre creators who will bring their visions of these great classics to our Vanier Park stages next season, for what I know will be a memorable year for us.”

Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is a Resounding Success at the Belfry Theatre

Pippa Mackie (as Juliet), Daniela Vlaskalic (as Constance Ledbelly) and Nicola Elbro (as Desdemona) / Photos by David Cooper

Pippa Mackie (as Juliet), Daniela Vlaskalic (as Constance Ledbelly) and Nicola Elbro (as Desdemona) / Photos by David Cooper

Until October 20, the award-winning comedy Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) by Ann-Marie MacDonald will be at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria. Directed by Ron Jenkins (The Trespassers, Any Night and BASH’d for the Belfry), Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) stars Daniela Vlaskalic (The Drowning Girls), Michael Dufays, Nicola Elbro, Pippa Mackie and Jameson Matthew Parker (Red).

Lovelorn academic Constance Ledbelly is magically transported into the middle of Shakespeare’s Othello and Romeo & Juliet. She is convinced that these two masterpieces started life as comedies. The mysterious Gustav Manuscript holds the key to her thesis and if she can decipher it maybe she’ll earn the respect of her colleagues and the love of her double-crossing mentor, Professor Claude Night. In this delicious romp through time and space Constance quickly discovers that Romeo, Juliet, Othello, Iago, and Desdemona ain’t what they used to be and that they may hold the key to her happiness.

Jameson Matthew Parker (as Iago) and Michael Dufays (as Othello) / Photos by David Cooper

Jameson Matthew Parker (as Iago) and Michael Dufays (as Othello) / Photos by David Cooper

Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) is a comedic masterpiece. While never undermining the serious themes of the original plays, MacDonald skillfully introduces humour into Othello and Romeo & Juliet by playing on the fate of each character and injecting a wonderful fool of Constance Ledbelly into the action. Daniela Vlaskalic hits every note, embodying the hopelessness of Ledbelly in such a way that the audience immediately gravitates to her. I really enjoyed that each of the other actors took on two characters, one from Othello and one from Romeo & Juliet. The connection between the actors allowed them to work really well as lovers, friends, backstabbers, and antagonists all at the same time.

Without question, I would go back to see this play again. Everything about this play added to the fun of it. The background full of books kept the audience engaged with Constance’s need to get home while never taking away from the new places she was transported to. The absolutely gorgeous costumes fit perfectly with MacDonald’s manipulations of each character. Desdemona’s corseted outfit without the expected skirt that added to her desire to get involved in the action. Juliet’s flowing dresses, and later cross dressing attire, added to the sensuality of her character without going overboard for the time.

Tickets for Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) are $25 to $40 (plus GST) at 250-385-6815 or online at https://tickets.belfry.bc.ca.

[Play description via press release]