‘Much Ado’ about LGBTQ adaptation

Cameron Slusser (left) and Griffin Back star in “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Before arriving in Philadelphia, Peter Reynolds worked as an actor, director and theater administrator in Chicago, where he became an admirer of About Face Theater, a company that specializes in LGBTQ-themed plays.

For all of the boundless growth of Philadelphia’s theater scene over the past 20 years, there has never been a sustainable LGBTQ-themed local company — until now.

Along with local performer Lindsay Mauck, Reynolds founded Mauckingbird Theatre Company in 2008. But the pair has crafted a very different vision than their forerunners at About Face.

Mauckingbird is perhaps the only company in the country focused on producing classic texts through an LGBTQ lens. Its latest, which opens Friday, is a 90-minute gender-liberated adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing.”

“When we founded the company, I didn’t feel there were a lot of gay plays out there that I was interested in,” says Reynolds, who is also directing “Much Ado.” “There were a number that could be nicknamed ‘underwear plays,’ where the play is really an opportunity for the boys to take their clothes off. I had no interest in that. I was interested in telling good stories, and classic stories.”

Over the past four-and-a-half years, Mauckingbird has created 10 productions, but the company has had to do it on a shoestring budget, even by indie theater standards. It has proved more than challenging to create grant revenue for a gay-themed company. According to Reynolds, 90 percent of Mauckingbird’s total budget comes from ticket sales — an unheard-of figure in nonprofit theater.

“It’s important that we communicate what we mean by ‘gender-bending’ theater: We’re not casting a man to play Beatrice [in 'Much Ado'] as a woman. We’re casting a man to play Beatrice as a gay man. There’s an enormous difference there,” says Reynolds. “The texts are so strong — Moliere, Shakespeare — they’ve survived for generations, and I think it’s important for us to see what happens when we look at them in this way.”

If you go
   
‘Much Ado About Nothing’
Through Aug. 26
Off-Broad Street Theater
1616 Sansom St.
$15-$25, 215-923-8909
www.mauckingbird.org



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…