Moya O’Connell & Ben Carlson (left) in Macbeth and Lindsey Angell & Nadeem Phillip (right) in As You Like It. Photos by David Cooper.
Moya O’Connell & Ben Carlson (left) in Macbeth and Lindsey Angell & Nadeem Phillip (right) in As You Like It. Photos by David Cooper.

The 29th season of the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival gets underway next month with a traditional staging of Shakespeare’s most popular tragedies, Macbeth. It will share the stage with a 1960’s inspired, Beatles-infused production of the Shakespeare comedy, As You Like It.

Opening this year’s festival, Macbeth will be directed by Chris Abraham, the artistic director of Toronto’s Crow’s Theatre. Having worked on radical re-workings of Shakespeare’s plays in the past, in his directorial debut at Bard on the Beach is going for something more traditional.

“For Macbeth at Bard, I’ve taken inspiration from the 1607 open-air playhouse setting of the play’s first production,” says Abraham in a media release. “It’s an opportunity to see the play in something like the conditions his first audiences might have.”

“Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble!” – Macbeth: Act iV, Scene I

Leaving tradition at the tent flap though, Citadel Theatre’s Daryl Cloran will direct a music-filled staging of the Bard’s comedy, As You Like It.

Set in 1960’s Vancouver and the Okanagan, the production features 25 songs from The Beatles’s catalogue, chosen specifically to fit its story.

“When I think of that time period, I feel an immense connection between The Beatles’ early music and the storyline of the play,” says Cloran. “The transition of The Beatles through the sixties is reminiscent of the free-spirited journey of the play’s main characters and the social and cultural evolution of Vancouver during that time.”

Cloran was also inspired by memories of All-Star Wrestling in Vancouver during the same time period.

“We have an incredibly talented group of performers who are putting all of their skills to use throughout this production, whether it’s singing, dancing, playing in the band, or wrestling” says Cloran.

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” – As you like: Act II, Scene VII

Macbeth opens the 29th annual Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival on June 17 and continues in repertory with the Shakespeare comedy, As You Like It until September 22. Visit bardonthebeach.org for tickets and information.