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Daryl Cloran’s As You Like It, first conceived at Bard on the Beach in Vancouver, made its American debut this month at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.Handout

Canadian director Daryl Cloran’s production of As You Like It – which mashes together the words of the Bard with songs by the Beatles – is getting the kind of critical love you need for Broadway transfers in its American debut at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST).

“It’s like a Shakespearean version of Mamma Mia!” Chicago Tribune theatre critic Chris Jones wrote in a rave this weekend. “Only the Beatles were better lyricists than ABBA.”

Jones went on to suggest that Cloran’s As You Like It would be a “fine candidate” for a berth on Broadway – where it would be guaranteed at least one good review, as the influential Jones also reviews for the New York Daily News.

Cloran, who is artistic director at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, first conceived this take on As You Like It with Bard on the Beach in Vancouver in 2018 – where The Globe and Mail’s Marsha Lederman was likewise smitten.

That initial West Coast success spawned runs at the Citadel and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in Winnipeg in 2020 right before the pandemic. Now, a little later than originally planned, it is helping bring back live, in-person performances at CST, running to Nov. 21.

Cloran isn’t the only Canadian involved in this Chicago iteration: The music supervisor, the fight/dance choreographer and five designers have all crossed the border with the show.

Cloran’s production of As You Like It mashes together the words of the Bard with songs by the Beatles.Handout

Kayvon Khoshkam and Austin Eckert, who were both in the original Vancouver production, are likewise in the cast as Touchstone and Charles the Wrestler/Amiens, respectively, while Stratford and Shaw Festival favourite Deborah Hay is playing Jaques, who delivers the Seven Ages of Man speech that, in this show, segues into The Fool on the Hill.

Fun fact: Ben Carlson, Hay’s husband, played Jaques in the original Bard on the Beach production. “It’s certainly the first time in my career I’ve directed a couple in the same role,” says Cloran by e-mail.

Cloran’s As You Like It has another production lined up at Milwaukee Rep opening in February of 2022 – and suggestions that it might have a commercial life in New York later on aren’t far-fetched given that its director has been building bridges to the Great White Way in recent years, presenting pre-Broadway runs of musicals like Six and Hadestown at the Citadel.

Again by e-mail, Cloran says: “We are in discussions with some U.S. commercial producers, but it is still early days.”

Just because Cloran’s been hustling south of the border doesn’t mean he’s neglecting things back in Edmonton.

The Citadel Theatre has been perhaps the most active regional theatre in Canada this fall. It’s opening the fourth in-person show of its 2021-2022 season this week: Bears, Matthew MacKenzie’s production of his award-winning play co-created with choreographer Monica Dottor.

I was a fan of this environmentally themed, inventively staged show when I caught it at the Factory Theatre in 2018; it’s now in the Maclab Theatre at the Citadel from Oct. 21 to 31.

Elsewhere in Alberta, Theatre Calgary is reopening its doors tonight with the world premiere of Boom YZ by Rick Miller, who has been creating generationally themed solo shows for a number of years now (Boom and Boom X). This new one runs from Oct. 19 to Nov. 7.

On Tuesday morning, Mirvish Productions announced the cast for its upcoming Canadian premiere of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the hit stage-only sequel to J.K. Rowling’s blockbuster fantasy series.

Really, though, it was a reannouncement. Pretty much all the actors announced for Potter back in March of 2020 – at which point the show was scheduled to open in a two-part version in October of that year – are still in the cast, even though it will now be opening as a single-part show on May 31, 2022.

Trevor White is starring as the grown-up Harry Potter, Trish Lindstrom plays Ginny Potter and Luke Kimball will be their son, Albus Potter. Gregory Prest is Ron Weasley, Sarah Afful is Hermione Granger and Hailey Alexis Lewis plays their daughter Rose.

Brad Hodder, Thomas Mitchell Barnet, Sara Farb, Fiona Reid and Steven Sutcliffe, all known from their work at the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, remain in the cast.

There were no reauditions (as there were, controversially, at the Stratford Festival recently), though four actors are not returning because the cast has been reduced to 35 from 39 in the process of cutting the show’s length in half from its original West End and Broadway incarnations.

Tickets go on sale Dec. 1. The show will open to critics on June 19, which gives me exactly eight months to learn who this Harry Potter guy is. Yes, I confess: I’ve never read a Harry Potter book or seen a Harry Potter movie.

In advance of Halloween, Neptune Theatre in Halifax is opening a production of The Woman in Black, Stephen Mallatratt’s stage adaptation of Susan Hill’s creepy novel of the same name that, at one point, was the second-longest-running non-musical play in West End history.

That doesn’t mean the thriller is the second most critically acclaimed non-musical play in West End history, but I did see it once there and it, indeed, made me jump out of my seat.

Gil Anderson and Gordon Patrick White star in artistic director Jeremy Webb’s new production at Neptune from Oct. 20 to Nov. 14.

Last but not least, Factory Theatre’s acts of faith, which I reviewed favourably last November, returns online this week from Oct. 20 to 23, with several start times each of those days.

What’s on offer this time around is a recording of David Yee’s play, rather than a livestreamed performance of it – which does allow for an interesting twist on Friday at 7:30 p.m. when Nina Lee Aquino will provide a director’s audio commentary over the show, a long-time staple of DVD movie releases that I’ve never heard done before in theatre.

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