Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival launches its 28th season with Much Ado About Nothing. Set in 1950s Italy, this family-friendly production of one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays simply bubbles over with humour, glamour and romantic tension. Directed by John Murphy, the high-spirited and stylish show runs from June 1 to September 23 on the BMO Mainstage; Opening Night is June 15.

Kevin MacDonald as Benedick & Amber Lewis as Beatrice | Photo & Image Design: David Cooper & Emily Cooper

It’s Italy in 1959, and a group of actors and filmmakers are celebrating the wrap of their latest movie. Leonato (Andrew Wheeler), the head of a film studio, gets word that Don Pedro (Ian Butcher), the great film director, is on his way. Leonato’s niece Beatrice (Amber Lewis) inquires whether famous actor Benedick (Kevin Macdonald) is also coming. The two stars are notorious for their ongoing battle of wits. Don Pedro arrives with Benedick and Claudio (Julien Galipeau), an up-and-coming actor. Leonato then invites everyone to vacation at his villa, including Don Pedro’s sister, Dona Johnna (Laara Sadiq). Claudio confesses to Benedick and Don Pedro that he’s in love with Hero (Parmiss Sehat), Leonato’s daughter. The director offers to help woo her on Claudio’s behalf; he wins her love for Claudio and a wedding date is set. But Hero and Claudio’s marriage plans are almost ruined by the mean-spirited Dona Johnna, and la dolce vita is in danger of becoming not so sweet after all. Don Pedro also conspires to bring Benedick and Beatrice together, with hilarious consequences. David M. Adams, Lois Anderson (June 1 – August 6), Chris Cochrane, Austin Eckert, Ben Elliott,Jennifer Lines (August 8 – September 23), Sereana Malani, Ashley O’Connell and Kaitlin Williams round out this magnificent cast as the play asks the eternal question: Can love really conquer all?

Kevin MacDonald as Benedick & Amber Lewis as Beatrice | Photo & Image Design: David Coper & Emily Cooper

This extravagant re-imagining is directed by John Murphy, returning to the Festival for his eighth season. Scenery Designer and Bard Artistic Associate Pam Johnson highlights the excitement and energy of making films during Federico Fellini’s time, turning the stage into a sound studio with the aid of Lighting Designer Gerald King and Projection Designer Corwin Ferguson. Costume Designer Christine Reimer’s glamorous creations are inspired by the sizzling style of ‘50s screen sirens Sophia Loren and Anita Ekberg. Sound Designer Murray Price has crafted a quirky musical soundscape of Italian folk, jazz and a touch of rock ‘n’ roll, with Choreographer Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg using cha cha and tango to add spice to the performers’ movement and dance elements.

Amber Lewis as Beatrice & Kevin MacDonald as Benedick | Photo & Image Design: David Cooper & Emily Cooper

The heart of Much Ado About Nothing ‘s enduring appeal is the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick, one of Shakespeare’s most intriguing and attractive couples. The play was last staged at Bard in 2010; it featured Jennifer Lines and John Murphy as the two lovers.

Performance details for Much Ado About Nothing are as follows:

Previews: June 1, 10, 11, 13 & 14; OPENS: Thursday, June 15 at 7:30pm.
• Runs June 1 to September 23 on the BMO Mainstage in Vanier Park.
• Plays in repertory with The Winter’s Tale, which begins previews on June 8.

Bard-B-Q & Fireworks: July 29; August 2 & 5. Includes dinner, entertainment from the Dowco Triumph Street Pipe Band and a private view of the Celebration of Light Fireworks (5pm start time).
Talkback Tuesdays: Begin July 4 (BMO Mainstage) & July 18 (Howard Family Stage) – Q&A session with members of the cast following select Tuesday evening performances.

Family Nights: July 11, August 8 & 22 – Make lasting memories with a trip to Much Ado About Nothing. Arrive at the Village early for family-friendly activities including the PIXSTAR Photobooth, the Emelle’s food truck and an exclusive pre-show Theatre talk designed just for kids.

Wine Wednesdays: July 19; August 9 & 23; September 6 (Bard Marquee) – Intimate pre-show wine tasting events (6pm start time).


Tickets for Bard on the Beach’s 28th season are now on sale. Ticket prices for 2017 begin at $21. Early booking is recommended for best seat selection as many performances sell out in advance. The full performance schedule, site information and play and special events details are on the Bard website at 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.


Bard on the Beach gratefully acknowledges the sponsors who support the season, including the 2017 Season Sponsor, Goldcorp; Production Sponsors RE/MAX, Visual College of Art and Design of Vancouver, Lonetree Cider and BlueShore Financial; Media Sponsors Global BC and the Vancouver Sun, as well as other valued sponsors and partners. Bard also thanks the City of Vancouver Cultural Services Department, the Vancouver Foundation, the B.C. Arts Council, the Province of B.C. and the Canada Council for the Arts for their continued support.


About Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival

Bard on the Beach is one of Canada’s largest not-for-profit, professional Shakespeare festivals. Established in 1990, Bard is an annual summer festival with a mission to perform, explore and celebrate the genius of William Shakespeare, surrounded by the natural beauty of Vancouver, British Columbia. Play performances run Tuesday through Sunday with matinees on select weekends and weekdays and a range of special events on Monday evenings. All evening performances start at 7:30pm.


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