Posted July 25, 2015 by Editorial Staff in 2015

California Shakespeare Theater continues its 41st season with Charles Ludlam’s frighteningly fabulous comedy The Mystery of Irma Vep

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Jonathan Moscone takes his final bow as Cal Shakes Artistic Director

Performances run August 12-September 6 at the beautiful outdoor Bruns Amphitheater. Tickets on sale now; call 510.548.9666 or visit

Berkeley, CA – California Shakespeare Theater continues its 2015 season with groundbreaking playwright Charles Ludlam’s high-camp homage to the horror genre, The Mystery of Irma Vep. Directed by Jonathan Moscone in his final production as Cal Shakes Artistic Director, and featuring Danny Scheie and Liam Vincent, The Mystery of Irma Vep plays at the Bruns Amphitheater from August 12 through September 6.

Subtitled “A Penny Dreadful”, and beginning, as all good scary stories do, on a “dark and stormy night”, The Mystery of Irma Vep is Charles Ludlam’s brilliant satire of multiple genres, including Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, The Mummy’s Curse, Wuthering Heights, farce, and Victorian melodrama. Newlywed Lady Enid arrives at the estate of her husband, Lord Edgar, who seems to be under the spell of his late first wife, Irma Vep. Something sinister is prowling the moors around Mandercrest under the watchful eye of the portrait of the late mistress of the house, and Lady Enid must survive encounters with a werewolf, a vampire, an Egyptian princess, and a mummy if she is to solve the mystery of Irma Vep.

“I’m so happy to get some silly on at the Bruns,” says artistic director Jonathan Moscone.  “I’ve always loved this play; it’s an endlessly inventive literary-cinematic-theatrical mash up, and I am working with the perfect cast and design team to bring Ludlam’s unique genius to life.”

Creating Irma Vep’s eight different characters—everyone from the young, innocent Lady Enid to the old swineherd Nicodemus, with sometimes as little as five seconds between costume changes—will be master comedians and Cal Shakes favorites Danny Scheie and Liam Vincent. Mr. Scheie has appeared in numerous roles at Cal Shakes, most recently as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Dromios in The Comedy of Errors, for which he recently received a nod for “Outstanding Performance” at the inaugural TBA Awards in 2014. Mr. Vincent also appeared in last season’s Midsummer and Comedy of Errors, and has been seen at theaters throughout the Bay Area including A.C.T., Magic, Marin Theatre Company, and SF Playhouse, to name a few.

The creative team for The Mystery of Irma Vep includes Tony-nominated set designer Douglas Schmidt, whose work in theater, opera, dance, film, and theme parks has been seen all over the world during his six-decade-long career;  costume designer Katherine Roth, who created the stylish fashions  for Cal Shakes’ Blithe Spirit, Private Lives, The Importance of Being Earnest, and As You Like It, as well as the Broadway and touring productions of Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly With Me; lighting designer Alexander V. Nichols, whose work with Cal Shakes goes back to 2002’s A Winter’s Tale, and who has designed numerous productions over seven seasons at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, plus work for regional theaters and dance companies through the U.S. and in Asia; and sound designer Cliff Caruthers, who designed Cal Shakes’ Life Is a Dream, Tempest (2012), The Seagull, and Twelfth Night (2001), and has provided haunting soundscapes at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Rep, and A.C.T., among others.

Jonathan Moscone (Director) is in his 16th and final season as artistic director of California Shakespeare Theater, where he most recently directed Shaw’s Pygmalion and Richard Montoya’s American Night: The Ballad of Juan José. His other credits include Tribes at Berkeley Rep, and the world premiere of Ghost Light, which he co-created and developed with playwright Tony Taccone for Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Berkeley Rep. In addition, he directed Bruce Norris’ Clybourne Park for American Conservatory Theater (where he is an adjunct professor). For Cal Shakes, Jonathan directed the world premiere of John Steinbeck’s The Pastures of Heaven by Octavio Solis, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, Candida, Twelfth Night, Happy Days, Much Ado About Nothing, The Tempest, and The Seagull. He is the first recipient of the Zelda Fichandler Award, given by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation for “transforming the American theatre through his unique and creative work.” His regional credits include Intersection for the Arts, the Huntington Theatre, Alley Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Goodspeed Musicals, Dallas Theater Center, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Intiman Theatre, and Magic Theatre, among others. Jonathan has served on several national, state, and local panels, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Arts Council; he also serves as a board member of Theatre Communications Group, and is a current participant in the National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program. Jonathan will be leaving Cal Shakes in August 2015 to become the Chief of Civic Engagement at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

Playwright Charles Ludlam (1943—1987) was most known for founding The Ridiculous Theatrical Company in 1967 and working with the company as a writer, director, performer, and designer. The company was legendary for mixing theatrical tradition with the avant-garde, and Ludlam used his near-encyclopedic knowledge of theater and film to create some of his most memorable work. He received six Obie Awards, one of which was for Ensemble Performance in The Mystery of Irma Vep, and the Rosamund Gilder award for Outstanding Achievement in Theatre. Some of his most noted works include Camille (1973), Der Ring Gott Farblonjet (an adaptation of Wagner’s Ring cycle) and Artificial Jungle (1986). He was also acclaimed for his portrayal of the title role in the 1984 American Ibsen Theater production of Hedda Gabler. Ludlam died in 1987 at the age of 44 from pneumonia as a complication of AIDS. In his obituary, the New York Times wrote that he was “one of the most prolific and flamboyant artists in the theatre avant-garde.”


Single tickets for The Mystery of Irma Vep range from $20 to $72, with discounts available for seniors, students, military families, persons age 30 and under, and groups. Prices, dates, titles, and artists are subject to change. For information or to charge tickets by phone with VISA, MasterCard, or American Express, call the Cal Shakes Box Office at 510.548.9666. Additional information and online ticketing are available at

California Shakespeare Theater’s 2015 season is supported in part by the generosity of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, the Dean & Margaret Lesher Foundation, The Bernard Osher Foundation, and The Shubert Foundation. Corporate partners include BART, City National Bank, Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa, Meyer Sound, Peet’s Coffee & Tea, and San Francisco magazine; production partners for The Mystery of Irma Vep are Chevron and McRoskey Mattress Company.