• John Caird: Highlights of a Stage Icon

    By COC Staff

    Tony Award-winning director John Caird has been mounting critically acclaimed stage productions for half a century—from an 8 ½-hour adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby to the long-running smash hit Les Misérables and, most recently, a theatrical adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Spirited Away

    This season, his beloved production of La Bohème returns to the COC stage where it opened in 2013. A perennial crowd-pleaser featuring Puccini’s soaring score, romantic set design, and unforgettable characters, it’s no surprise that this production remains a fan favourite!

    Read on to discover just a few highlights from John Caird’s remarkable career—and be sure to book your tickets for La Bohème, opening at the Four Seasons Centre of the Performing Arts on October 6!

    The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1980

    Caird teamed up with Trevor Nunn to direct the Royal Shakespeare Company’s epic theatrical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, which quickly became the unmissable stage event of its day.

    ''Not for many years has London's theatre seen anything so richly joyous, so immoderately rife with pleasure, drama, colour and entertainment.''—The Times of London

    Twelfth Night, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1983

    Featuring Zöe Wanamaker as Viola, Sarah Berger as Olivia, Daniel Massey as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, John Thaw as Sir Toby Belch, Richard O’Callaghan as Feste, and Emyrs James as Malvolio, this iconic production featured a Jacobean setting and music by Ilona Sekacz.

    “Presently at Stratford there is a resplendent version of Twelfth Night, staged by John Caird, a production that most certainly deserves a transfer to the Barbican. Mr. Caird…above all honours authenticity, offering an intelligent overview of Twelfth Night [that is] comprehensive rather than self-consciously conceptual…Mr. Caird's production is unhurried but not meandering, funny but not frenetic and pervasively poetic. One might call the style Illyrical.”—The New York Times

    Les Misérables, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1985

    Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s Les Misérables premiered in 1985 as a co-production between the RSC and Cameron Mackintosh. It ran at the Barbican Theatre, the Palace Theatre, and the Queen’s Theatre (where it continues today as the longest-running musical in the West End) before opening at The Broadway Theatre in New York in 1987. It has since been performed all over the world.

    “Nunn and Caird and the designers pile eye-popping effect on effect in their presentation of the archetypal story of the ex-convict Jean Valjean and his lifelong pursuit by the obsessed cop Javert. It’s an exceptional instance of stage technology enhancing rather than distracting from the human story material.”—Variety

    The Seagull, Royal National Theatre, 1994

    John Caird’s production of Chekhov’s tragicomedy at London’s Royal National Theatre featured theatre royalty Judi Dench, Helen McCrory, and Bill Nighy.

    “By the final scene, you seem to be looking at a palimpsest of all that has gone before, and when, at the back, you see the original stage collapse as Konstantin (an appealing Alan Cox) walks forward into the present, the effect is undeniably moving.”—The Independent

    Hamlet, Royal National Theatre, 2000

    Starring Simon Russell Beale as the tormented Dane, this production toured the UK and Europe—with stops in Elsinore, Stockholm, and Belgrade—before transferring to New York.

    “There's something arrogant in the simplicity of Caird's direction. He approaches Hamlet neither armed with fuss nor shielded with tricks, ready to take on the great monstrous text with the artistic equivalent of his bare hands. The resulting production is so unflashy that it's in danger of looking like an easy achievement—so this is the place to point out that only a master director can close so nakedly with Shakespeare's genius and come out with such forceful, aching, beautiful success.”—The Washington Post

    Don Carlos, Canadian Opera Company, 2007

    A remounted Don Carlos opened at the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto in October 2007.

    “This thrilling Canadian Opera Company production, a joint staging with Welsh National Opera, scores high in all categories…This version restores not only the first Fontainebleau act but other bits of music, particularly to the final scene. The choice makes for a theatrical experience nearly four and a half hours long that keeps the audience on its seats throughout.”—Review Vancouver

    La Bohème, Canadian Opera Company, 2013

    A co-production with Houston Grand Opera, the Canadian Opera Company and San Francisco Opera opened in Toronto in 2013, conducted by Carlo Rizzi.

    “Director John Caird, most famous as the co-director of the original production of Les Misérables, has taken a fresh look at this warhorse of the opera repertory.  The new COC production, a co-production with Houston Grand Opera and San Francisco Opera, finds more substance in the opera than any previous production I’ve seen and in so doing forces the audience to re-evaluate its preconceived notions of the work…Caird’s insightful direction and Rizzi’s invigorating conducting show that there is more depth to this popular work, both symbolically and musically, than you have ever experienced before.”—Stage Door

    Tosca, LA Opera, 2013

    Conducted by Plácido Domingo and starring Sondra Radvanovsky, Marco Berti, and Lado Ataneli, Caird’s production of Tosca opened in Los Angeles at LA Opera in May 2013.

    “John Caird and Placido Domingo bring the violence of Puccini's Tosca to the fore in a blood-soaked new production.”—The Guardian

    Spirited Away: Live on Stage, Toho Company, 2022

    Caird directed his own adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated film Spirited Away for Toho Company in Tokyo in 2022. It later toured to Osaka, Hakata, Sapporo and Nagoya. With a score by Joe Hisaishi and starring Kanna Hashimoto and Mone Kamishiraishi as Chihiro, the production won rave reviews for faithfully bringing to life a globally adored anime.

    “Start praying that the production makes its way to the United States…”—Entertainment Weekly

    Join us for La Bohème opening night on Friday, October 6!

    Tickets are on sale now!

    Photos: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Reg Wilson (c) RSC, Michael Le Poer, Richard Mildenhall, Michael Cooper, Robert Millard, © Toho Co., Ltd.
    Posted in 23/24 Season


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