The most successful production in Bard on the Beach history is set to return to Vancouver with Beatles songs, a wrestling ring and an “Okanagan” forest.
Starting June 8 at Kitsilano’s Vanier Park, the annual Shakespeare festival will open its 34th season with the Beatles-infused production “As You Like It.”
The ’60s-era musical version of the romantic comedy, conceived and directed by Daryl Cloran, broke box-office records for BOTB in 2018, and has since toured North America.
“We are delighted to bring back the most successful production in Bard’s history,” Christopher Gaze, the theatre company’s artistic director, said in a news release.
The cast will include actors who played in the 2018 production, and some new ones. Newton-raised actor Chelsea Rose (as Rosalind) appears in a show promo photo on the festival website, alongside Oscar Derkx (as Orlando).
Rose’s last big role in Vancouver was Maria in “The Sound of Music” at the Arts Club Theatre Company’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage last fall.
With “As You Like It,” from wrestling ring to the middle of the “Okanagan” forest, the cast will perform Beatles songs live, Cloran notes.
“The songs we’ve chosen lend themselves perfectly to the Shakespearean text,” the director says. “The evolution of The Beatles through the ‘60s is reminiscent of the free-spirited journey of the play’s main characters and the social and cultural evolution of Vancouver during that time.”
Added Cloran: “We’re working with choreographer and fight director Jonathan Purvis to literally bring audiences ringside, with an homage to the excitement of All-Star Wrestling in the ‘60s in Vancouver, including a pre-show wrestling match, then we transform the stage into the forest of the Okanagan.”
The production will involve some special events, including Bard Fireworks nights (July 22, 26 and 29), Family Days stagings (July 16, Aug. 20), Pride Night (July 24) and a “relaxed” performance (July 1 at 2 p.m.).