Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 16:04 UK

Bard is given Beatles treatment

Plays of William Shakespeare

A singer from a Beatles tribute band has put the words of William Shakespeare to music in the style of the Fab Four.

Chris O'Neill, who plays Sir Paul McCartney in the Backbeat Beatles, said the idea came to him in a dream.

"I woke up and wrote down all these ideas about the Beatles going back in time and meeting Shakespeare," he said.

Mr O'Neill begins his one man show - A Bard Day's Night- in Gateshead on Monday evening.

The singer did not study Shakespeare at school and so this project has allowed him to get to know the Bard.

"I get my complete works of Shakespeare out and give myself some tasks - sometimes it might be a speech - and I just sit there with a piano," he said.


"The speeches are harder to do, sometimes I can't really get my head around the timings of how they are spoken but the sonnets seem to be very easy. They are perfect to put into music."

Most of the songs in his show, like Shall I Compare Thee, use the words of Shakespeare's sonnets.

But there are also extracts from the plays including Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind from As You Like It.

Dr Adam Hansen from Northumbria University, who is currently writing a book on the Bard and popular music, thinks the project works.

"Shakespeare used popular song in his plays - not everyone could get to the theatres in his day so the way people out in the provinces would experience his plays and his characters was through ballads," he said.

"Sonnets are perfect because sonnets are derived for Italian for song. Chris is re-invigorating this old form in a new format."

Mr O'Neill hopes the feedback he receives from audiences for his show will help him produce a full scale musical next year.

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