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.

About Cal Shakes Cal Shakes celebrates its 41st anniversary inspired by an expansive vision of the role theater can and should play in society, as expressed in our mission statement: With Shakespeare’s depth of humanity as our touchstone, we build character and community through authentic, inclusive, and joyful theater experiences.

Founded in 1974 and under the leadership of Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone since 2000, our Main Stage productions have earned a reputation for their bold artistic vision and vivid story-telling. We give artists full range to bring their own life experience to the stories we tell on our stage—to take risks while remaining authentic to the story being told. Our season runs from May to October, attracting 43,000 Bay Area theater-goers to our outdoor, solar-powered, Bruns Memorial Amphitheater—described by the Wall Street Journal as, “One of the most beautiful outdoor performance spaces in America.” Through the Triangle Lab, we aim to integrate art more deeply into community life—to make theater matter more to more people. Our Artistic Learning programs reach 5,000 students annually, engaging students in classrooms and at our Theater in on-your-feet activities that bring a text to life, while also practicing skills that are crucial in today’s economy. For more information on the entirety of Cal Shakes work on stage, in schools, and with communities, go to


WHAT California Shakespeare Theater’s production of The Mystery of Irma Vep

WHO By Charles Ludlam Directed by Jonathan Moscone
Designed by Douglas Schmidt (set designer), Katherine Roth (costume designer), Alexander V. Nichols (lighting designer), and Cliff Caruthers (sound designer).
Featuring: Danny Scheie and Liam Vincent

WHEN August 12-September 6, 2015
Previews August 12, 13, and 14 at 8pm Press Opening August 15 at 8pm Tuesdays through Thursdays at 7:30pm Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm Saturday Matinee September 5 at 2pm Sunday Matinees at 4pm Grounds open two hours prior to show time for picnicking. Café and full bar are available on site.

WHERE Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda, CA 94563 (just off Highway 24 at the California Shakespeare Theater Way/Wilder Rd. exit, one mile east of the Caldecott Tunnel.) Complimentary shuttle from Orinda BART beginning 2 hours before curtain. Complimentary parking onsite.

TICKETS Single tickets range from $20 to $72, with discounts available for seniors, students, persons age 30 and under, and groups. Cal Shakes makes twenty tickets available for $20 on a first-come, first-served basis for every performance throughout the season. Call Cal Shakes’ Box Office at 510.548.9666 between noon and 2pm to purchase. Prices subject to change.
All tickets are available through the California Shakespeare Theater Box Office, 701 Heinz Avenue, Berkeley CA, 510.548.9666, online at, or at the Bruns box office on the day of the performance (pending availability).

GROUPS Groups of 10 or more save $10 off the adult single ticket price; complimentary ticket available for groups of 15+. For more information, call 510.809.3290.


Inside Scoop, Monday, July 27, 6:30-8pm, Orinda Library Audiences are invited to a sneak peek at the upcoming production halfway through the rehearsal process with the director and members of the cast, moderated by Cal Shakes Resident Dramaturg Philippa Kelly. Complimentary sweet treats and Peet’s coffee is served.

Pay-What-You-Can Preview, Wednesday, August 12, 8pm
The first preview of each show is a special Pay-What-You-Can performance. Tickets are first-come, first-served, and available beginning at 6pm day of show only; to purchase, call the Cal Shakes Box Office at 510.548.9666 or visit the Bruns Amphitheater Box Office. Supply is limited.
Opening Night Post-Show Party, August 15, following the performance Experience the excitement of the opening night performance and then mingle with the cast and creative team at a complimentary post-show party.

Tuesday Tastings, Tuesdays, August 18, 25, and September 1, beginning at 6pm

Taste the best of the Bay Area’s wine, beer, coffee, sweets, and savories for free on Tuesdays before the performance.

Teen Night, Tuesday, August 18; 6pm event, 7:30pm performance
A special event just for teens ages 13–18. Come hang out in the Upper Grove; we’ll provide the pizza and soda, a special backstage tour, and a pre-show engagement with one of our teaching artists before the show. Call 510.809.3290 for tickets and more info.

Open-captioned performance, Wednesday, August 19, 7:30pm
Special seating and opening-captioning for hearing-impaired patrons, who can read the text and dialogue on a digital screen. Purchase tickets for section A online at, or call the Box Office at 510.548.9666. For groups of 10 or more, email or call 510.809.3290.

Meet the Artists, Sundays, August 16 and August 30, following the 4pm performance

Audience members enjoy an opportunity to engage in a lively discussion about the production with cast members following select 4pm matinee performances. Free and open to all.

InSight Matinee, Sunday, August 23, following the 4pm matinee
Explore the world of the play through an informal dialogue with the production’s dramaturg following select 4pm performances. Free and open to all.

Grove Talks, 45 minutes before each performance

Led by resident Grove Talks speakers, these free, informal 20-minute talks are held on site 45 minutes before each and every performance in the ADA-accessible Grove Talk grove, offering invaluable insight into the play and the production.



Press Contact: Marilyn Langbehn 510.809.3290 510.910.3129 cell


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