Mauckingbird Theatre Company turns a gay lens on William Shakespeare's timeless comedy Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Mauckingbird Artistic Director Peter Reynolds, August 10 – 26. Contrasting the romantic entanglements of the young and spontaneous Claudio and Hero (Griffin Back and Cameron Slusser) with the bantering rivalry of Beatrice and Benedick (Sean Thompson and Matt Tallman), Mauckingbird produces a timely exploration of marriage, jealousy, love and honor through the eyes of gay men.
"It's always exciting to see how new the story feels when told from a queer point of view," says Mauckingbird Artistic Director Peter Reynolds. "In Shakespeare's play, Hero is a young woman shamed in a powerful scene by her father, Leonato. In our version it was the mother-gay son encounter that really moved the whole cast. Things were illuminated in a different way, it became more emotional."
In Mauckingbird's Much Ado About Nothing, Leonato (Cheryl Williams) welcomes Claudio, Benedick and Don Pedro (Chancellor Dean) home from battle where Benedick resumes an on-going rivalry with Leonato's nephew, Beatrice, and Claudio discovers feelings for their host's son, Hero. When friends and foes begin to gossip, Benedick and Beatrice are suddenly drawn together while Claudio and Hero are bitterly torn apart.
Performed in a new venue at the Off-Broad Street Theater, designers Shon Causer (lighting), Zachary Limbert (set) and Marie Anne Chiment (costume) are creating the setting of the play in a larger and taller space than in previous productions. "The designers are having fun with the vertical expansiveness of the space. We plan to open with live music and a party on 'Leonato's outdoor patio', encouraging audience members to mingle with the actors before the play begins," says Reynolds.
Much Ado About Nothing runs August 10-26, 2012 (opening night is Friday, August 10, at 8 p.m.), at the Off-Broad Street Theater at First Baptist Church, located at 1636 Sansom St. in Philadelphia. Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors and $15 for students and are available by calling the Mauckingbird Theatre Company box office at (215) 923-8909 or online at www.mauckingbird.org.