Peninsula Players' THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP Opens 7/30

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Peninsula Players' THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP Opens 7/30

The frighteningly funny farce "The Mystery of Irma Vep- A Penny Dreadful" by Charles Ludlam opens July 30 at Peninsula Players Theatre, America's oldest professional resident summer theater and Door County's theatrical icon. The Drama Desk-and Obie Award-winning comedy is a true mix of Victorian gothic romance and Universal monster movies.

This madcap comedy takes audiences on a hilarious journey from the austere English manor of "Mandacrest" to the pyramids of Egypt. A blend of "Rebecca," "Wuthering Heights" and "The Mummy's Curse," it comes complete with a damsel in distress, the lord of the manor, an ominous housekeeper, a lovelorn werewolf and a long-dead Egyptian princess. All are played by two actors, including the female parts.

This fast comic romp begins at the manor home of Lord and Lady Hillcrest. Lady Enid arrives at her new home one dark and stormy night to find the portrait of Irma Vep, Lord Edgar's first wife, hanging over the fireplace and Irma's presence haunting the entire manor. Soon suspicious deaths occur on the moor, and a wolf is blamed. Lady Enid becomes mysteriously ill and she begins to sleep all day and wander the halls all night. To find answers and to save his new bride, Lord Edgar travels to Egypt to seek answers in a mummy's tomb.

Actors Sean Grennan and Sean Fortunato are cast in multiple roles. Grennan plays Lord Edgar Hillcrest, the master of the manor, and the housekeeper, Jane, while Fortunato plays Lady Enid, the new mistress at Mandercrest, a groundskeeper, Nicodemus, and an Egyptian tomb guide.

Both actors performed in the Peninsula Players production of Agatha Christie's "And Then There None" and Grennan wrote the opening play of the Players' season, "The Tin Woman."

Grennan's regional performance credits include Victory Gardens, Drury Lane and "Law and Order (SVU and CI") on television.

Fortunato ("Chicago," "Doubt," "Making God Laugh," "Is He Dead?" "Sunday in the Park with George") recently closed a production of "M. Butterfly" with Court Theatre. His additional credits include Off-Broadway "Rose Rage" at The Duke on 42nd and regionally "Measure for Measure" at the Goodman Theatre and "Travels with My Aunt" at Writers Theatre.

"The Mystery of Irma Vep" is under the direction of Greg Vinkler, artistic director of Peninsula Players. Vinkler has directed numerous works for the Players including its recent productions of "Lombardi," "Chicago," "Sunday in the Park with George" and "A Little Night Music."

"I am very excited to have this super-charged, high-octane comedy in the middle of the season," said Vinkler. "This zany comedy has two very talented actors playing eight parts with about 40 lighting-fast costume changes throughout. Rehearsals have been a hoot! Chock full of variety of characters from human to supernatural, this comedy is a cross between the late night horror movie and popular variety shows such as Carol Burnett."

"The Mystery of Irma Vep" made its premiere at Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company, an off-Off-Broadway company in New York City's Greenwich Village in 1984 with Ludlam playing Lady Enid. The production won the 1999 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Revival at off-Broadway's Westside Theatre.

Time Magazine and The New York Times both named "The Mystery of Irma Vep" one of the Best Plays of the year. In 1991, "The Mystery of Irma Vep" was the most produced play in the United States, and in 2003, it became the longest-running play ever produced in Brazil.

"The Mystery of Irma Vep - A Penny Dreadful" is sponsored by Barbara Jo Weko Witzke.

The creative team of "The Mystery of Irma Vep - A Penny Dreadful" includes Players veteran award-winning designers Keith Pitts scenic design ("Lombardi," "The Fox on the Fairway," "Wait Until Dark" ); Charles Cooper, lighting designer ("Sunday in the Park with George," "Chicago"); properties design by Sarah E. Ross ("The Fox on the Fairway," "And Then There Were None," "A Little Night Music"); sound designer Christopher Kriz ("The Game's Afoot," "The Nerd"); and newcomer, costume designer Rachel Lambert.

Peninsula Players has been entertaining and exciting audiences since 1935, when the theater opened behind the Bonnie Brook Motel in Fish Creek on July 25, with Noel Coward's "Hay Fever." The company was founded by a brother and sister team, Caroline and Richard Fisher, who dreamed of an artistic utopia in the north woods where actors, designers and technicians could focus on their craft while being surrounded by nature in a contemplative setting. Peninsula Players moved to the theater's present location along the shore of Green Bay in 1937.

Prior to performances, patrons picnic and relax on the grounds while watching the setting sun over the waters of Green Bay from the cedar-lined shore and enjoy the ambience of the Beer Garden and other gardens.

The Peninsula Players perform "The Mystery of Irma Vep" Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. with 4 p.m. matinee Sunday, Aug. 17. The Peninsula Players season runs through October 19. Coming shows are the Midwest premiere of Richard Strand's Civil War drama, "Butler;" and the musical "Always...Patsy Cline," created and originally directed by Ted Swindley, based on a true story.

Individual and group tickets are also available. Individual ticket prices range from $35 to $44. There are no performances on Mondays. For more information or to reserve tickets phone the Peninsula Players box office at 920-868-3287 or visit the website at www.peninsulaplayers.com.

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