Vampire attacks, werewolf sightings, and the resurrection of an Egyptian Princess all make an appearance in Island City Stage’s newest production of “The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful” by Charles Ludlam, running through July 10. This hilarious send-up of gothic romance and horror film, in which two actors and lightning-fast costume changes are the stars of the show, is part of the award-winning theater company’s 10th Anniversary 2021-22 South Florida Season. Directed by Andy Rogow, this entertaining production is focused on an English estate haunted by the former mistress who has recently passed (or has she?). Add-in mummies, secret identities and a ton of madcap blunders all under the escapist guise of a gothic penny dreadful – grim short stories made popular in the mid-1800s and turned out en masse. The twist, here, is the high humor, 35 costume quick-changes and dozens of wigs that bring an eclectic cast of characters to life in this camp classic from Charles Ludlam (1943-1987), creator of New York’s Rid-iculous Theatrical Company. “The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful” originally premiered in October 1984 at the Sheridan Square Play house in New York City where it played for two years, and it remains Ludlam’s most popular play. “Charles Ludlam and The Ridiculous Theatrical Company were pioneers, now legends in LGBT+ theater, elevating camp to an art form and paving the way for companies like Island City Stage,” said Andy Rogow, artistic director of Island City Stage. “We’re thrilled to bring this comedy cult theatre classic to South Florida for new audiences to enjoy!” “The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful” stars Bruce Linser and Larry Buzzeo.
Bruce Linser is a South Florida actor and director who last appeared at Island City Stage as Philip in “The Pride.” As they say in Poltergeist, “He’s baaack!” Proudly holding the distinction of “local actor who has appeared in the most Island City Stage productions,” Larry Buzzeo is ecstatic to reprise the role (or roles) for which he won the coveted Loafy award (a loaf of Cuban Bread) in Tampa. Founded in 2012, Island City Stage produces award-wining professional theatrical experiences rich with LGBTQ+ history, stories and characters, but have a heart and soul that is truly universal. It specializes in developing new work in addition to featuring the efforts of playwrights who expose audiences to different voices and diverse experiences.