‘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

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.