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Legacy Revival

The Mystery of Irma Vep

December 1 - 24, 2022

Opening December 10, 2022

By Charles Ludlam
Co-directed by Matt M. Morrow
& Allison Spratt Pearce

Box Office: 619.220.0097

Performances run Thursdays at 7:00PM, Fridays at 8:00PM, Saturdays at 8:00PM, and Sundays at 2:00PM.

About the Show

Gothic horror, Victorian romance, and classic B-movies are whipped together into a diabolical delight for the holidays. When Lady Enid joins her newlywed Lord Edgar at his estate in the mysterious moors of the English countryside, dark family secrets and supernatural lore emerge with some seriously campy consequences. This queer comic masterpiece comes to the Diversionary stage for the first time in 20 years, with two performers bringing innumerable ridiculous characters to life in a high camp tour de force.

Show Details

Low-Cost Previews: December 1 – December 9
First Friday for the Military: December 2, 8:00PM
Complimentary tickets for active duty and veterans.
GSA/Youth Nights: December 2, 8:00PM & December 9, 8:00PM
Free tickets for middle school & high school students.  Click here to request free tickets.
Pre-show talk — The Queer Legacy of Charles Ludlam: December 3, 7:00PM, before the 8:00PM performance
Join co-directors Allison Spratt Pearce and Matt Morrow, as well as dramaturg Jesse Marchese for a pre-show chat in the Clark Cabaret about the queer theatrical legacy of Charles Ludlam and his Ridiculous Theatrical Company.
Opening Night: December 10, 8:00PM
Post-show talk — Beyond the Absurd: The Play, Process and Production: December 11, 4:00PM, after the 2:00PM performance.
Join local theater scholars and practitioners Dr. Katie Turner (San Diego State University) and Lamar Perry (UC San Diego), as well as members of the cast and creative team, for a post-show discussion on the Diversionary mainstage about the play’s themes as well as on our process and production.
Backstage Thursday — Monsters in Our Closets: Queer Reflections on Horror: December 15, 9:00PM, after the 7:00PM performance.
Join Join theater director Desireé Clarke, performance scholar Madison Mae Williams, and local drag performer LUXE the Drag Queen for a post-show discussion in the Clark Cabaret about queer people’s unique relationship with horror—a shared theme of two of this season’s plays, The Mystery of Irma Vep and our upcoming Monsters of the American Cinema.
Industry Night: December 19, 7:00PM
Pay-What-You-Can admission for theatre industry professionals.
Backstage Thursday: December 22
Pre-show talk in the Clark Cabaret & Bar
Daily: Before and after performances
Come to the show early as our Clark Cabaret transforms into Irma’s Parlour – with enough drink specials and old school horror movies to have you howling at the moon. And be sure to stop by the Parlour after the show for a complimentary glass of champagne as we offer a toast to Charles Ludlam and the legacy of Queer Theatre! The Parlour will open one hour before the show time and remain open after the show.

Luke Harvey Jacobs  (Actor 1 – Enid, Nico, Al, Pev; he/him/his)  Diversionary credits include: Chance in Eighty-Sixed, Fastrada in Pippin, Patrick in The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, Michael in The Boys in the Band (2018 reading). Some recent, favorite roles include Max in Cabaret (Cygnet), his work in Hair at the Old Globe, Henri Labisse in Victor/Victoria and Franz Liebkind in The Producers (both at Moonlight). Choreography credits: Little Shop of Horrors (SDMT), Nunsense (the Welk), La Cage aux Folles (Cygnet), and Sister Act (SDMT – Critic’s Circle Nomination) Luke received his BFA in Musical Theatre from CSU, Fullerton.

Bryan Banville (Actor 2 – Edgar, Jane, Intruder; he/him/his)  Bryan was last seen at Diversionary in Significant Other. Additional select credits – Old Globe: The Heart of Rock and Roll, Camp David, and Anna Christie; Cygnet Theatre: (Resident Artist) Spamalot (Craig Noel Award Winner), Rock of Ages, Animal Crackers, On the Twentieth Century, and Assassins; Moonlight Stage Productions: Memphis, Something Rotten, Titanic, The Music Man, Spamalot, Mary Poppins, and Catch Me If You Can.   Backyard Renaissance: Tarrytown (Craig Noel Award Nominee); SDMT: The Producers and Ragtime; North Coast Repertory: The Sunshine Boys; Farmer’s Alley Theatre: Forever Plaid; Welk Resort Theatre: Plaid Tidings.

Charles Ludlum (Playwright) grew up in Queens, New York, just a few subway stops from Greenwich Village, and the heart of Gay America. At twenty-four, he founded the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, where he wrote, directed and performed in almost every production for the next two decades, often with Everett Quinton, his life partner and muse, by his side. Renowned for drag, high comedy, melodrama, satire, precise literary references, gender politics, sexual frolic, and a multitude of acting styles, the Ridiculous Theater guaranteed a kind of biting humor that could both sting and tickle. His many plays included Turds in Hell, Der Ring Gott Farblonjet, a riff on Wagner’s Ring Cycle, Bluebeard, and The Mystery of Irma Vep, his most popular play, and a performer’s tour-de-force. Ludlam continued working until almost the day he died of PCP pneumonia, just three months after his AIDS diagnosis. He was 44.

Matt M. Morrow (Co-director; he/her/they) joined Diversionary Theatre in 2014, and since joining, Matt has helped to grow Diversionary Theatre’s operating budget by 140%. Under their leadership the theatre has been nominated for 29 San Diego Critics Circle Awards, winning two Outstanding New Play Awards in 2017 and 2019. Alongside Diversionary’s Board of Trustees, Matt led the Securing Our Future campaign, a $2.7 million renovation project for the theatre’s home in University Heights, which reopened in the Fall of 2021. Notable world-premiere productions Matt has directed and/or produced with Diversionary include Miranda Rose Hall’s The Hour of Great Mercy (Winner, 2019 Best New Play, SDCC Award), Gordon Leary and Julia Meinwald’s musical The Loneliest Girl in the World, Georgette Kelly’s Ballast (Winner, 2017 Best New Play, SDCC Award), Justin Huertas’ Lizard Boy The Musical (Winner, Outstanding Lead Performance in a Musical). Matt was honored with the inaugural Larry T. Baza Arts & Culture Award from San Diego Pride, and was a Creative Catalyst Fellow with The San Diego Foundation and La Jolla Playhouse. Matt served as The John Wells Professor of Directing at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama, and is currently adjunct Professor of Directing at UC San Diego’s Graduate Directing program.

Allison Spratt Pearce (Co-director; she/her) has been onstage at Diversionary as Janey in Eighty-Sixed and Anita Bryant in The Loneliest Girl in the World. Allison holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Elon and an MFA in Drama from The Old Globe/USD program. Allison was in the original Broadway & Off Broadway casts of Good Vibrations, Cry Baby and Curtains, and Enter Laughing. Selected San Diego credits include: Janice in Come From Away, Victoria in Sideways (La Jolla Playhouse), Phoebe: As You Like It, Viola: Twelfth Night (Globe tour), Jane: Emma (The Old Globe), Emily: Disgraced, Susannah: Black Pearl Sings (SD Rep), Eliza Doolittle: My Fair Lady, Katherine: The Last Wife, and her award winning portrayal of Louise: Gypsy (Cygnet), Maria: The Sound of Music, Amalia: She Loves Me (SDMT), Victor/ia: Victor/Victoria (Moonlight Stages). Along with being an actress, Allison is a private acting teacher and speaker coach for Google Cloud.

Jesse Marchese (Dramaturg; he/him/his) is a PhD student in the Department of Theatre & Dance at UC San Diego. UC San Diego credits include: IYA: The Ex’celen Remember (director), Epicene: A Queer Extravaganza (adaptor/director), and Napoli (dramaturg). From 2017 to 2019, Jesse was Executive Director of Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC) in Queens, where he produced acclaimed productions of Follies, Caroline or Change, Queen, and Veil’d. Prior to APAC, Jesse served as Associate Director of Off-Broadway’s award-winning Mint Theater Company where he helped to produce nearly fifteen productions, two of which he also directed: The Lucky One and The Fatal Weakness (nominated for two 2015 Drama Desk Awards). His work has also been seen, in NYC, at The Civilians, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, New York City Children’s Theater, York Theatre Company, New World Stages, Theater for the New City, Gallery Players, Village Light Opera Group, and Marymount Manhattan College.

Matthew Herman (Scenic Designer; he/him/his) is thrilled to be making his Diversionary debut. Regional Credits include: CCAE Theatricals: Witnesses (World Premier), Once, Joseph and the Amazing…, A Big Band Christmas. Barn Stage Company: James and the Giant Peach, Songs for a New World, Chess in Concert, Peter and the Starcatcher, Carousel in Concert, Spring Awakening, Urinetown, The Last Five Years. UC San Diego: Othello, What of the Night?, 100 Giving Way, How to Use a Knife (WNPF 2016), Precipitate: Pleasant Beats & Knot Knowing. Cal Poly, SLO: Trojan Women 2.0. Off-Broadway and Regional Assistant credits include: Escape to Margaritaville (La Jolla Playhouse – Walt Spangler), Summer (La Jolla Playhouse – Robert Brill), Ain’t Too Proud (Berkeley Rep. – Robert Brill), Halfway Bitches Go Straight to Heaven (The Atlantic Theater Company – Narrell Sisson), Happy Days (Mark Taper Forum – Izmir Ickbal) and over 20 productions as David Goldstein’s associate scenic designer including Emojiland (National Tour/The Duke), Winnie the Pooh (Rockefeller Productions), Smokey Joe’s Cafe (John W. Engeman Theatre, Northport), Esai’s Table (JAG), That Golden Girls Show (Rockefeller Productions) and Mr. Parker (Theater Row/Penguin Rep Theater). MFA in Scenic Design from UC San Diego.

Jacob Bruce (Fight Choreographer; AEA, SAG/AFTRA, IATSE) is an actor, director, educator, and builder, having appeared onstage at The La Jolla Playhouse, Mo’olelo, San Diego REP, Knightsbridge Theatre, North Coast Rep, and Intrepid Theatre, among others. He has directed for Bodhi Tree Concerts/SD Opera, USD, and Finest City Improv, and has served as a violence/staging choreographer and consultant for LJP, UCSD, Diversionary, SD Opera, and USD. Jacob is adjunct faculty at USD, where he is also currently serving as Associate Production Manager, and is a long-term member of the Production Staff at LJP. Film and TV credits are available on IMDB.

Alyssa Kane (Props Designer; she/her/hers) is extremely proud to be working with Diversionary once again. She is a queer woman working full time in scenic design, props design, and scenic painting. Recent projects include Extreme Home Makeover (Scripps Ranch Theatre), Eighty-Sixed (Diversionary), The Great Khan (SD Rep), Sapience (Moxie), and Yellow Wallpaper (Write Out Loud). Alyssa is an operational board member at Scripps Ranch Theatre. She is also a performer and founding member of a burlesque and variety troupe in Southeast Alaska.

Annelise Salazar (Lighting Designer) is happy to make her design debut with Diversionary Theatre in this beautiful play. Elsewhere: Mother of the Maid (MOXIE); Desert Rock Garden, Leonard Bernstein New York (New Village Arts Theatre); Water by the Spoonful (Cygnet Theatre, ALD) Past work: The Old Globe Theatre, Bay Street Theatre, and Tuyo Theatre. Annelise earned a BFA in Design and Technology from Millikin University and is an MFA student at San Diego State University. 

Evan Eason (Sound Designer)

Brooke Kesler (Costume Designer)

Peter Herman (Wig Design)

Levi Kaplan (Special Effects)

Diversionary’s current COVID-19 policy is to require all attendees and staff to wear masks at all times while inside the theatre.

Thank you for helping to keep our staff, artists, and patrons safe!

NOTE: This policy is subject to change at any moment to reflect changing local, state, and federal regulations. Please return before your scheduled performance date to see our most recent policy.

About Season 37:
We Are Family

Season 37 celebrates Diversionary’s legacy of chosen family with a focus on community engagement, arts education, and an inspired program of new and classic work examining family dynamics and legacy, utilizing all three of its performance venues: the Robert L. Granat & Alfred J. Mazur Mainstage Theatre, the Reuel K. Olin New Play Development Center, and the Clark Cabaret & Bar.

Decade Sponsor: Joann Clark
Season Sponsor: Bob Grinchuk, in loving memory of his husband, Reuel K. Olin

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