Shakespeare in Love Takes to the Stage in the 30th Season of Bard on the Beach

Romance & Laughter Take Centre Stage as Shakespeare in Love Joins the 30th Season of Bard on the Beach

Bard on the Beach continues its 30th season with a stylish stage adaptation of the lively Oscar-winning romantic comedy, Shakespeare in Love.

The play tells the story of Will Shakespeare, who is suffering from temporary writer’s block until he meets Viola de Lesseps, who becomes his creative muse. Viola is Will’s greatest admirer. She’ll also stop at nothing – including breaking the law – to act in his next play. Their relationship, and the rivalry between London’s competing theatre companies, drives the action as the story unfolds.

Daryl Cloran is back to direct Shakespeare in Love, after bringing the record-breaking As You Like It to Bard audiences last season. The stage version of Shakespeare in Love is based on the original film screenplay by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard, adapted for the stage by Lee Hall and with music by Paddy Cunneen. It features Ghazal Azarbad as Viola de Lesseps and Charlie Gallant as Will Shakespeare.

“Viola has a line where she says: “I will have love… Love like there has never been in a play” and I think we accomplish that with this production,” explains Cloran. “We get to see a profound love between her and Will, which they find through their love of words and their love of theatre. And for me, that’s what’s at the heart of this play. It’s a love of theatre. It’s a celebration of the ephemeral magic of theatre – of those moments that can never be recreated.”

“In the story a group of actors and outcasts come together to defy all the odds and build something magical because they believe in the power of theatre,” notes Cloran. “This production embraces the ensemble nature of the story. We start every night by bringing the entire cast out onto the stage to acknowledge the audience, as if to say: We know you’re there… Let’s make a little bit of magic happen tonight together.”

Joining the cast alongside Azarbad and Gallant are Scott Bellis, Kate Besworth, Andrew Cownden, Victor Dolhai, Austin Eckert, Ming Hudson, Warren Kimmel, Jennifer Lines, Anton Lipovetsky, Susinn McFarlen, Andrew McNee, Paul Moniz de Sá, Chirag Naik, Kamyar Pazandeh, Jason Sakaki, and Joel Wirkkunen.  Casting for Spot, the dog, will be announced at a later date.

Cory Sincennes’ revolving set designs take the audience from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre to beautiful ballrooms, dingy taverns and opulent palaces in speedy succession, while his costume creations reveal how status and class were embodied in the intricacies of Elizabethan style etiquette.

“One of my favourite things about Elizabethan England were the rules about fashion – the laws that the Queen had put in place,” explains Sincennes. “You were allowed to wear certain fabrics and cuts based on your status and class. So our theatre players are all in linens and leathers, while at the regal court, you see more silks and velvets.”

Additional members of Shakespeare in Love’s production team include Julie Tomaino (Choreographer), Jonathan Purvis (Fight Director), Gerald King (Lighting Designer), Mishelle Cuttler (Sound Designer/Music Director), Kayvon Khoshkan (Apprentice Director), Kimira Bhikum (Assistant Set Designer), Celeste English (Assistant Light Designer), Erica Sterry (Assistant Costume Designer) and Alison Matthews (Head Voice & Text Coach). The stage management team includes Stephen Courtenay (Production Stage Manager), Rebecca Mulvihill (Assistant Stage Manager) and Heather Barr (Apprentice Stage Manager).

Dates of note for Shakespeare in Love include: 

  • Shakespeare in Love – June 12 to September 18 – Opening Night June 21
  • Exploring Shakespeare in Love – July 20 – with Simon Fraser University’s Paul Budra
  • Bard-B-Q & Fireworks – July 27 – play, dinner and family-friendly entertainment activities plus premium view of the Celebration of Lightfireworks; package pricing (includes dinner and play)
  • Talkback Tuesdays – Starting July 2, join members of the cast for lively Q & A sessions after each Tuesday evening performance (both theatres)
  • Wine Wednesdays – July 10, August 7, August 21 & September 4 at 6pm (pre-show event)
  • Accessible Performances: July 20 & 21, August 10 & 11, VocalEye

Regular adult play ticket prices include all fees & taxes and start at $26. The Youth Price, sponsored by Global BC, is available for patrons ages 6 to 22 at 50% off select adult ticket prices. Prices for special events, group bookings and multi-play ticket packages can be found online at or by calling the Bard Box Office at 604-739-0559. Early booking is recommended for best seat selection (all seats reserved) and because many performances sell out in advance.

Bard on the Beach gratefully acknowledges the corporate sponsors who support and sustain the Festival and its programs. 2019 sponsors include Season Sponsor Goldcorp; Production Sponsors Avison Young, Lawson Lundell, BlueShore Financial and Lonetree Cider; Season Media Sponsors The Vancouver Sun and Global BC, as well as many other valued sponsors and partners. Bard also thanks the City of Vancouver Cultural Services Department, the Vancouver Park Board, the Province of British Columbia, the BC Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts for their continuing 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, the annual summer festival’s mission is to perform, explore and celebrate the genius of William Shakespeare, surrounded by the natural beauty of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Bard also offers year-round education and training programs for youth, adults and theatre professionals in its administrative home at the BMO Theatre Centre in Vancouver’s Olympic Village as well as in schools and community facilities throughout the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.

Media release provided by Cynnamon Schreinert, Hartley PR. Photo Credit: Charlie Gallant as Will Shakespeare & Ghazal Azarbad as Viola Photo & Image Design: Emily Cooper

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