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Side-splitting Haunted Hilarity.

By Charles Ludlam
Directed by Jim Helsinger

JUNE 20 - JULY 14 | SCHUBERT THEATRE

Lauded as “the funniest two hours anywhere” by The New York Times and “lunatic fun that keeps you in stitches” by The Daily News, this madcap mystery features werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and damsels in distress. In a parody of the gothic literary “penny dreadful” tradition, Charles Ludlam’s spoof reaches from the eerie moors of England to the depths of an Egyptian tomb. A hilarious sendup of Victorian melodrama, this comedic, quick-change tour-de-force features an unforgettable cast of characters—all played by two actors—and promises to leave you breathless with delight. Ages 12+

The Mystery of Irma Vep – A Penny Dreadful is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC.

BUY TICKETS FOR THIS SHOW

Co-Sponsors:

Actor Sponsors:

Extras

  • Opening Night, Saturday, June 22: Join the PSF actors and staff for a friendly post-show champagne toast.
  • Meet the actors for an informal talk-back after the show: Thursday, June 27 and July 11.
  • Director’s Dinner - specialty dinner themed to the play with behind-the-scenes insights: Saturday, July 13, 5:00pm.
  • Audio Described performance: Saturday, June 29, 2:00pm.

Reviews

The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Vampires, detectives and lots of laughs.”

“The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival scores another summer hit.”

“Wickedly funny….”

“Superb backstage crew…half the joy in seeing it is marveling at the skill involved by the stagehands.”

“Eagerly enjoyed….success achieved.”

 Broad Street Review

“This Vep is polished and professional.”

“Actors Brad DePlanche and Christopher Patrick deliver sight gags, wizardly quick changes, and turn lowbrow laughs into high art.”

“A joke-a-second….Freewheeling amusement.”

“DePlanche and Mullen play eight characters with split-second precision.”

“Kudos to costume designer Lisa Zinni for supplying a treasure trove of threads.”

“Set designer Steve TenEyck renders portraited perfection.”

“Helsinger directs the two-hour romp at breakneck speed, landing the humor and guiding his actors brilliantly.”

“You can tell they’re enjoying every minute, and you can’t help relishing the energy they exude.”

The Morning Call
“A hilarious tour de force.”

“The physical comedy and frequent quick-changes of these two incredibly talented performers boggle the mind.”

“The cozy Schubert is perfect for pulling the audience right into action.”

“DePlanche totally owns the part….the ease with which he moves back and forth between the roles is a testament to his versatility.”

“Mullen exudes a totally non-self-conscious physicality that is hilarious…brilliant.”

“Lisa Zinni returns with sumptuous costumes.”

Press Release

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival opens The Mystery of Irma Vep – A Penny Dreadful: A Hilariously Haunted Quick-Change Comedy

Two fearless actors and a backstage brigade deliver a multitude of quick changes and side-splitting hilarity in Charles Ludlam’s gothic spoof The Mystery of Irma Vep – A Penny Dreadful, opening June 22 at Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, the professional theatre on the campus of DeSales University.

Lauded as “the funniest two hours anywhere” by The New York Times and “lunatic fun that keeps you in stitches” by The Daily News, The Mystery of Irma Vep previews June 20 and 21, opens June 22, and runs through July 14 in the Schubert Theatre at the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts.

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Features

Haunted Hilarity

Modern audiences seem to have an obsession with true crime podcasts, Netflix series, and TV shows. Yet retellings of real crime and horror stories now available on our devices are not a new phenomenon. From the 1830s, wide audiences turned to “penny papers” for cheap entertainment. These tabloid-like publications sold for a penny and included serial novels published in weekly installments. Known first as “penny bloods” and later as “penny dreadfuls,” the stories drew inspiration from 18th- and 19th-century gothic novels as well as infamous true crimes.  Versatile theatre artist Charles Ludlam reinvented and satirized the penny serials with one of his most famous works, The Mystery of Irma Vep—A Penny Dreadful.

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Artists

Cast

BRAD DEPLANCHE*

BRAD DEPLANCHE*

Nicodemus Underwood, Lady Enid Hillcrest, Alcazar

Favorite roles at PSF include Pseudolus in Forum, Passepartout in 80 Days, and Pompey in Measure for Measure. For the last two years Brad has been playing the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin aboard their cruise line. Other Regional: American Conservatory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Syracuse Stage, and South Coast Repertory. A proud advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. He holds an MFA from ACT in San Francisco.

BROOKE HARRSCH

BROOKE HARRSCH

Mummy Dancer

will be graduating DeSales University in December with a BA in Theatre (STEP), which will allow her to obtain a teaching certification to teach 7th-12th English, alongside her Bachelor’s Degree. She is extremely grateful to be back at the Festival this summer working on a fun and quick-paced production. Some of her favorite credits include Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Jane Bingley), Murder on the Nile (Kay Mostyn), and PSF’s West Side Story (Clarice). Brooke recently made her directorial debut in The Princess King, which ran in the Schubert Theatre this past spring. She would like to thank her family, friends, and especially her sister for their constant love and support. brookeharrsch.com

MACKENZIE MOYER

MACKENZIE MOYER

Mummy Dancer

is thrilled to be making her PSF debut as a member of the Young Company. DeSales University Act 1 credits: Pippin, The Devil’s Disciple, Godspell, and The Crucible. Love to the fam, friends, and Bryan. mackenzie-moyer.com

CHRISTOPHER PATRICK MULLEN*

CHRISTOPHER PATRICK MULLEN*

Jane Twidsen, Lord Edgar Hillcrest, An Intruder

is a DeSales University graduate. CPMʼs work with PSF since 1992 includes: Shakespeare In Love, Richard II, Loveʼs Labours Lost, Julius Caesar, Pericles, Charleyʼs Aunt, Hamlet, The Glass Menagerie, Twelfth Night, Dracula..., and 20 other productions; West Side Story (1st National Tour); The Runner Stumbles (Off-Broadway); Cabaret, Metamorphoses, Macbeth, A Little Night Music, Candide, and Assassins (Arden Theatre). He is amember of Retro Productions (NYC) and a People’s Light veteran of over 30productions since 1989. Co-writer of ChipandGus. TV: Law & Order. Love to Kathleen Mullen for introducing me to WUTHERING HEIGHTS and REBECCA.

MARK YOWAKIM

MARK YOWAKIM

Mummy Dancer

a musical theater major going into his junior year at DeSales University, is excited to be returning to PSF for his second year in the Young Company. Previous PSF credits include an ensemble member in Ragtime, an onstage musician in Shakespeare in Love, York’s Servant in Richard II and Tweedle-Dum and the Knave in Alice in Wonderland.

Artistic Team

Partrick Mulcahy

PATRICK MULCAHY

Producing Artistic Director

Since assuming leadership in 2003, Mulcahy has led PSF’s surge in artistic excellence, financial stability, and national recognition. Accomplishments include first-ever grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, attracting a multitude of award-winning artists including winners and nominees of the Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Barrymore, and Emmy awards, a 75% increase in annual attendance, a successful campaign to double the Festival’s endowment, and the expansion of the number of Actors’ Equity contracts per season. He led the strategic planning process that led to PSF’s Vision 2030, a commitment to world-class professional theatre, and coverage in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Washington Post. As a professional director, actor, and fight director, credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, regional theatre, television and radio. Mr. Mulcahy has acted with many industry luminaries including Don Cheadle, Angela Bassett, Cynthia Nixon, and Tony Shaloub at the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Roundabout Theatre, Hartford Stage, Great Lakes Theatre Festival, and the Walnut Street Theatre. He served as fight director for A Few Good Men on Broadway, and multiple Off-Broadway productions starring Marcia Gay Harden, John Mahoney, Patrick Dempsey, and John Savage. He directed Oscar nominee Vera Farmiga in The Real Thing, and, for PSF, directed The Winter’s Tale, Henry IV, Part 1, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Shakespeare in Love. Also Head of Acting at DeSales, Patrick holds a BFA in Acting and MFA in Directing from Syracuse University.

Dennis Razze

DENNIS RAZZE

Associate Artistic Director

Mr. Razze directed last summer’s critically acclaimed production of Ragtime. In 2017 he directed PSF’s sold-out production of Evita starring Broadway luminaries Dee Roscioli and Tony Award-winning actor Paulo Szot. He also directed PSF’s critically acclaimed production of West Side Story in 2016 and the Festival’s memorable Les Misérables in 2015. Including these three blockbuster musicals, Mr. Razze has directed many of PSF’s highest attended productions—The Taming of the Shrew (1998), Fiddler on the Roof, Twelfth Night (2000), My Fair Lady, South Pacific, 1776, and Man of La Mancha. In 2017 he was awarded the Allentown Arts Ovation Award for Performing Arts. This year he celebrated his 35th year as a faculty member of the DeSales Theatre Department. He has directed more than 60 productions for DeSales’ Act 1 including this year’s smash success, Pippin. Mr. Razze is also a composer who has created musical scores for The Devil’s Disciple, Antigone, Cyrano de Bergerac, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet,The Merry Wives of Windsor, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream

CASEY GALLAGHER

CASEY WILLIAM GALLAGHER

Managing Director

has worked at PSF for 21 seasons. Over the years he was the assistant house manager, box office manager, company manager, assistant producer, and director of development. Since 2004, in his role as general manager and later managing director, he has served as the administrative leader of the Festival working very closely with the box office, business, development, marketing and production departments. During this time, PSF subscriptions have more than doubled, income from the annual Luminosity Gala fundraiser has more than quadrupled, and the summer seasonal staff has grown to over 200. Casey has also been treasurer for the Shakespeare Theatre Association, director of audience services for The People’s Light & Theatre Company, a board member for Civic Theatre of Allentown, a peer panelist for the New Jersey Council on the Arts and a judge for the Greater Philadelphia Barrymore Awards for excellence in theatre. Casey is a member of the PSF Board of Directors and also serves on the board of Arts Academy Elementary Charter School. Casey thanks everyone who works to make PSF happen each year.

STEPHEN CASEY

STEPHEN CASEY

Choreographer

is honored to team up with Gina Lamperella and Ryan Touhey. Recent PSF: Ragtime, Evita, West Side Story. Other favorites: The Producers, Jesus Christ Superstar, What a Glorious Feeling (Bristol Riverside Theatre); Catch Me if You Can (Arizona Broadway Theatre), Dames at Sea (Montgomery Theatre), Cinderella: A Musical Panto (People’s Light); Me and My Girl, and Pippin (DSU). Three time Barrymore nominee for his choreography of Ragtime and Little Shop of Horrors at Bristol Riverside, and for his direction of The Musical of Musicals at Montgomery Theatre.  

MAGGIE DAVIS*

MAGGIE DAVIS*

Production Stage Manager

is back at PSF for a fourth season. Stage and production management credits include: King Lear, Awake & Sing!, Oliver!, Julius Caesar, and The Wild Duck (Quintessence Theatre Group); Yours, Anne, among other productions (Half Moon Theatre); Seven seasons with the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival; Christmas Rappings (Judson Memorial Church); Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Florida/Texas Tour); Mike Birbiglia’s My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Tribes, and Hit the Wall (Barrow Street Theatre); Measure for Measure (Fiasco/New Victory Theater). For Jared and the Goldstein Family. Peace.

MAGGIE DAVIS*

MICHAEL DEPP-HUTCHINSON

Assistant Stage Manager

is thrilled to be joining PSF for his first season. Most recently he has worked with Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia; and Pilobolus Dance Theatre, International/Domestic Touring.

MATTHEW GIVEN

MATTHEW GIVEN

Original Sound Designer

is very excited to return to PSF. He was PSF’s resident sound designer for 10 years, during which time he designed over 40 productions. Some of his notable PSF designs include: Macbeth (2014), A Winter’s Tale, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, King Lear, and Dracula. In 2014, Matthew joined Bucks County Playhouse as Director of Production & Facilities. Matthew holds an MFA in sound design from Ohio University. All my love to my wife Katie and our daughter Gracie. 

JIM HELSINGER*

JIM HELSINGER

Director

PSF Directing: The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Foreigner, Lend Me a Tenor, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. PSF Acting: Lady Bracknell, Master Ford, Malvolio, Arnolphe, Dogberry, Bottom. Other regional credits include title roles in Cyrano de Bergerac, Hamlet, Dracula, and Henry V. TV/Film: From the Earth to the Moon, Mortal Kombat, and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Playwright: Dracula: The Journal of Jonathan Harker. Artistic Director of Orlando Shakespeare Theater in partnership with UCF. www.orlandoshakes.org

William Neal

WILLIAM NEAL

Sound Designer

is the Resident Sound Designer and Sound Supervisor for PSF and for DeSales University. He has designed sound and/or composed original music for over 65 productions, including the original Off-Broadway productions of After, Daniel’s Husband, Small World, Drop Dead Perfect, and The Little Prince, as well as dozens of regional productions, including last summer’s PSF production of Richard II. William is a member of United Scenic Artists Local USA 829 and the Theatrical Sound Designers and Composers Association.

STEVE TENEYCK

STEVE TENEYCK

Set Designer, Lighting Designer

is pleased to return to PSF. Some favorite past productions include West Side StoryEvitaRagtimeJulius Caesar and Twelfth Night. Design work for companies such as Dallas Theatre Center, The Gulfshore Playhouse, Syracuse Stage, Big Art Group, The Kitchen Theatre Company, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Hangar Theatre, Madison Opera, Syracuse Opera, Anchorage Opera, Minnesota Opera, and Florida Grand Opera. Steve is a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829 and teaches design at Ithaca College in New York.

LISA ZINNI

LISA ZINNI

Costume Designer

is happy to be returning to PSF for The Mystery of Irma Vep with the same fantastic cast (Chris and Brad) and fearless director (Jim Helsinger) as their first production 10 years ago. She designed last season’s Shakespeare in Love, as well as many PSF productions over the years. Some favorites include: Evita, Sweeney Todd, Les Mis, Macbeth, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and The Importance of Being Earnest. Recent work includes designing the musical/comedy/rap/improv show Freestyle Love Supreme directed by Thomas Kail and co-created by Lin-Manuel Miranda; designing a new work for the Tulsa Ballet titled Remember Our Song, choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler; Associate Costume Designer for the TV event Rent Live on Fox; and a new musical adaptation of Sheridan’s The Rivals at Bristol Riverside Theatre. Lisa is currently designing a production of West Side Story to open in August in Tokyo, Japan in the new 360 stage around theatre. Broadway credits include: Associate Costume Designer for School of Rock, Cats, An American in Paris, The Play that Goes Wrong, The Glass Menagerie, Rent and Hair as well as many of the National and International touring companies. Other design venues include: Orlando Shakes (Hound of the Baskervilles, Pericles, Henry V, Titus Andronicus, King Lear and The Imaginary Invalid), Walnut Street, Arden, and Riverside theatres. LISAZINNI.com

*Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Stage Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

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Information coming soon. Please check back during the 2019 season.