Lois Anders, John-Murphy. Taming of the Shrew.

Tickets for the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival go on sale March 19, kicking off the 23rd season of Vancouver’s most popular summer festival. Bard returns to Vancouver’s Vanier Park from May 31 to September 22. The 2012 season launches with two productions on the BMO Mainstage.

First up is the lively romantic comedy The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Meg Roe. Playing in repertory with The Taming of the Shrew is the dark, powerful drama Macbeth, directed by Miles Potter. The BMO Mainstage is located in the 742-seat Mainstage Theatre tent, specially built in 2011 to offer technical improvements, greater comfort, and increased seating capacity for Bard audiences.

Ashley Wright. Merry Wives of Windsor.
[Ashley Wright in Merry Wives of Windsor]

In the intimate 240-seat Douglas Campbell Studio Stage tent, Johnna Wright will direct The Merry Wives of Windsor, set in 1968 Windsor, Ontario, while Bard Associate Artistic Director Dean Paul Gibson helms a rare production of the medieval tale King John, presented in repertory with Merry Wives.

Bob Frazer, Colleen Wheeler in Macbeth
[Bob Frazer, Colleen Wheeler in Macbeth]

The 2012 productions prove again the timeless appeal and unparalleled dramatic range of Shakespeare’s plays. The Taming of the Shrew centres on Kate and Petruchio, two eccentric lovers who use their wits as weapons as their comic love-hate relationship unfolds. In the iconic tragedy Macbeth, three witches’ prophesies trigger the downfall of a great lord and his lady, in a classic tale of betrayal and murder. The Merry Wives of Windsor revolves around the utterly charming rogue Sir John Falstaff, whose weakness for women leads him into hilarious misadventures.

Lucas Gustafson in King John
[Lucas Gustafson in King John]

In King John, the crown of England is the prize as a usurping king, his innocent young nephew, a heroic ‘bastard’ and a passionate mother all vie for our sympathies.

Here’s a list of the performance dates as well as special events:

The Taming of the Shrew: May 31 to September 22 (BMO Mainstage)
Macbeth: June 13 to September 20 (BMO Mainstage)
The Merry Wives of Windsor: June 28 to September 21 (Studio Stage)
King John: July 11 to September 19 (Studio Stage)
Bard Explored: Lecture Series June 23, July 14, August 11 and 25
Celebrating Red and White: August 18. Wine tasting following the matinee performance and before the evening show
Nuit d’amour: August 27 and September 3. French Opera highlights (Opera & Arias): UBC Opera Ensemble & members of Vancouver Opera Orchestra, hosted by Christopher Gaze:

Bard on the Beach is Western Canada’s largest professional Shakespeare company, led by Artistic Director Christopher Gaze. Performances run Tuesdays through Sundays. Evening curtain is at 8 pm, except Sunday evenings and from September 5 and onward, when curtain moves one hour earlier to 7 pm. Matinees are presented on selected weekends and weekdays.

Ticket prices include HST and are $40 (evenings) and $21 to $33 (previews and matinees), including a $30 youth rate (6 to 25 years) for evening performances. For the month of June, the adult evening ticket price drops to $36. On Canada Day (July 1), a special $30 all ages price is in effect for evening performances.

Prices for special events, the four series Bard Pack, and performance schedule can all be found on the Bard website. Early booking is recommended for best seat selection (all performances are reserved seating); many performances sell out in advance.

All images by David Cooper.

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