All-Male Shakespeare Troupe Performs As You Like It and Richard II in Mount Airy

A scene from "As You LIke It."

A scene from “As You Like It.”

If you paid attention during your high school English class, you already know that there’s a heck of a lot of gender-bending that takes place in the works of Shakespeare. Now, one local theatrical troupe is presenting the Bard’s work true to form: with an all-male cast.

Quintessence Theatre Group is performing As You Like It and Richard II, two of Shakespeare’s most enduring works, in residence at the Sedgwick Theater in Mount Airy, through November. The cast features 13 ensemble performers, including Broadway actors James-Patrick Davis and Paul Hebron, who take on all the roles in the plays, and, according to Artistic Director Alex Burns, it’s more than just guys in dresses reciting famous sonnets.

“As an openly gay director, I believe there is a great deal in both productions that would engage and thrill Philadelphia’s gay community,” suggests Burns, who says the performances are strongly actor-driven and text-focused.

For those who need a brush-up on their Shakespearian plots, As You Like It is a comedic romp through the forest of Arden, where mistaken identity, disguises, and magic guide the narrative. Richard II is, by far, a darker drama about the political reign and regicide of the title character.

This is Quintessence‘s fifth season, and the company has been nominated for the 2014 Wolfson Award. Performances for the all-male Shakespeare ensemble run through November 16th. For tickets and more information, visit Quintessence Theatre Group‘s website. Check out our preview gallery of both productions below.