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Pianist Andrew Burashko has been fusing the arts in beautifully crafted, themed programs under the banner of his Art of Time Ensemble since 1998.

Now, with the show Shakespeare: If Music Be..., he brings together music, dance, theatre and spoken word to present Shakespeare - and the artists he inspired - in four groupings that director David Ferry has fashioned into a sophisticated recital.

Words about Shakespeare includes both praise and slams of the Bard by 300 years worth of famous writers. Excellent actors Tim Campbell, Lucy Peacock, Cara Ricketts and Marc Bendavid delivered the quotes in suitable dramatic fashion. The words were interpolated by the Bard's sonnets, set to music by Rufus Wainwright, performed by singer Kevin Fox accompanying himself on the cello and aided by Burashko on piano.

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Each of the remaining sections - Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado and Ophelia - included scenes from Shakespeare's plays that inspired the music and dance.

For example, Ricketts and Bendavid performed the bedroom scene from Romeo and Juliet, followed by James Kudelka's haunting pas de deux Romeo and Juliet before parting, exquisitely danced by the National Ballet's Tanya Howard and Patrick Lavoie.

Similarly, Ricketts performed Ophelia's mad scene, then Peggy Baker danced her own taut choreography Why the Brook Wept to composer John Cage's Ophelia.

Peacock and Campbell had great fun as the sparring Beatrice and Benedict, interpolated by Erich Korngold's incidental music for Much Ado About Nothing, performed by Burashko and violinist Erika Raum.

It's hard to overstate the stylishness of this program. The Art of Time Ensemble is a class act that attracts top talent.

Shakespeare: If Music Be…

  • Art of Time Ensemble
  • Andrew Burashko, artistic director
  • Directed by David Ferry
  • At the Enwave Theatre in Toronto

Shakespeare: If Music Be… continues at Toronto's Enwave Theatre until Saturday.

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