Much Ado Gets a Gender Spin in Philadelphia; Barrymore Winner Cheryl Williams Is Leonato

News   Much Ado Gets a Gender Spin in Philadelphia; Barrymore Winner Cheryl Williams Is Leonato
Mauckingbird Theatre Company, the Philadelphia troupe committed to gay-related plays and issues, offers Shakespeare's comedy Much Ado About Nothing through a new lens, now through Aug. 26. Previews began Aug. 9.

Matt Tallman and Sean Thompson
Matt Tallman and Sean Thompson Photo by Ian Paul Guzzone

"Sexy, sweet and sincere," according to Mauckingbird notes, the company "turns a gay lens to Shakespeare's timeless comedy about love, jealousy and rumors. Young and beautiful, Hero and Claudio are flush with the thrill of first love while Beatrice and Benedick are railing against marriage. As friends and foes spread gossip to catch both couples off guard, each man finds himself looking at love with a new perspective."

Artistic director Peter Reynolds directs a cast that includes Matt Tallman as Benedick, Sean Thompson as Beatrice, Cameron Slusser as Hero, Griffin Back as Claudio, Mitchell Bloom as Borachio, Barrymore Award-winning actress Cheryl Williams as Leonato, Erika Anselmo as Antonio, Chancellor Dean as Don Pedro,
Ben Lyle Lotka as Don John, Joe Mathew as Ursula,
 LJ Norelli as Balthasar/Sexton/Conrade and 
Will Poost as Dogberry.

The production team includes Zachary Limbert (set design), Marie Anne Chiment (costume design) and Shon Causer (lighting design).

Performances play Off-Broad Street Theater at First Baptist Church, 1636 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA.

Admission is $15-$25. For information, call (215) 923-8909 
or visit *

Founded by artistic director Peter Reynolds and managing director Lindsay Mauck, Mauckingbird Theatre Company is "committed to producing professional gay-themed theatre, while also exploring classic literature and musical genres and providing affordable productions of infrequently produced works." Past productions include the critically acclaimed all-male versions of The Misanthrope (2008) and Shakespeare's R & J (2008); the lesbian adaptation of Hedda Gabler (2009); the dark crime drama Never the Sinner: The Leopold and Loeb Story (2009); Tru and The Threshing Floor (2010), a repertory of two one-man shows about influential gay writers Truman Capote and James Baldwin; an original modern interpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream (2010); the regional premiere of Jeff Bowen and Hunter Bell’s musical [title of show] (2011); and the Philadelphia premiere of Jon Marans' The Temperamentals (2012).

Mauckingbird Theatre Company is a proud member of the Off-Broad Street Consortium of Independent Theatres.

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