Hey Nonny Nonny! Barenaked Ladies Score Stratford's As You Like It in Canada

News   Hey Nonny Nonny! Barenaked Ladies Score Stratford's As You Like It in Canada The Stratford Festival's production of William Shakespeare's As You Like It, set in 1969's "summer of love" by director Antoni Cimolino, with a score by pop group Barenaked Ladies, begins previews April 27 at the Festival Theatre.
Graham Abbey as Jaques in The Stratford Festival's As You Like It
Graham Abbey as Jaques in The Stratford Festival's As You Like It Photo by David Hou

Songs (with lyrics by Shakespeare) and incidental music are written and arranged by Barenaked Ladies, the Canadian band that gave the world "If I Had a Million Dollars," "Jane," "Be My Yoko Ono" and "One Week." For the record, song credit goes to BNL's Steven Page with music "arranged and performed by Barenaked Ladies."

"This offers us an opportunity to present the audience with a marriage between recorded and live music," Page, lead singer for Barenaked Ladies, said in an earlier statement. "As You Like It has more songs built into it than any other of Shakespeare's plays, and they help to propel the plot and characters. More importantly, they serve to create the mood and the setting. It's very exciting to work as a team with Antoni and Santo to make their vision of Arden come to life."

Director Cimolino said, "As You Like It is a play that explores many kinds of love from the viewpoint of the young. In the spirit of youthful rebellion, the characters drop out of the envious and sophisticated world of the court in favor of the peace and simplicity of the country. I felt that a 1960s setting supported and made vivid each one of the play's themes. Barenaked Ladies are ideal collaborators on this project — their wit and energy are positively Shakespearean."

As for taking on Shakespeare as a collaborator (the songs in the text include "Wedding is great Juno's crown," "Blow, blow, thou winter wind," "Under the greenwood tree"), Page said, it's "a gift" to write the music to Shakespeare's words. "It's hard to ask for a better co-writer, really, even if he is a little unbending in his approach to collaboration!"

Cimolino is executive director of the world-renowned Shakespeare festival in Stratford, Ontario. Performances of As You Like It continue in repertory to Oct. 30. Opening is June 4. This is the first work to be seen on the flagship Festival stage in the 2005 season. The famed pastoral comedy follows two idealistic young people, Orlando (played by Dion Johnstone) and Rosalind (Sara Topham), who drop out of the cynical world of the court, joining the philosopher Jaques (Graham Abbey) and the clown Touchstone (Stephen Ouimette) in their search for meaning in the Forest of Arden.

Lee Wilson is assistant director. The choreographer is Donna Feore. The designer is Santo Loquasto, the lighting designer is Steven Hawkins and the sound designer is Jim Neil. Fight direction is by John Stead.

The cast also features Sean Arbuckle as Oliver, Dan Chameroy as Amiens, Laura Condlln as Audrey, Ian Deakin as the First Courtier to Duke Frederick, Dorian Foley as Charles, Adrienne Gould as Phebe, Sophie Goulet as Celia, Bernard Hopkins as Sir Oliver Martext/Hymen, Jean-Michel LeGal as Silvius, Barry MacGregor as Duke Senior, Anthony Malarky as William, Gordon S. Miller as Jaques de Boys, William Needles as Adam, Stephen Russell as Duke Frederick, Steven Sutcliffe as Le Beau and Brian Tree as Corin, as well as Lara Jean Chorostecki, Martha Farrell, David Hogan, Jacob James, Shaun McComb, Gareth Potter and Lara Rose Tansey.

Tickets are available at (800) 567-1600 or through www.stratfordfestival.ca.

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Founded in 1988 by Steven Page and fellow singer-guitarist Ed Robertson, Toronto's Barenaked Ladies have sold more than 10 million records worldwide, offering hits such as "One Week," "If I Had a Million Dollars," "Be My Yoko Ono," "Pinch Me" and "Brian Wilson." Their concert appearances are beloved by fans who recognize the band both for its musicianship and its sense of humor — as they lark about, they look like they're having a great time on stage.