People’s Branch Theatre gets spooky with The Mystery of Irma Vep

O&AN wants to send you and a guest to see the People’s Branch Theatre melodrama spoof The Mystery of Irma Vep at the historic Belcourt Theatre. Just send us an email to with “Irma Vep” in the subject line to know the drill. Be sure to include your phone number in the entry so we can call you up when you win. We'll see you at the show!

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People’s Branch Theatre, Nashville’s professional progressive theatre, will follow up its recent production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch with the Obie and Drama Desk Award-winning Gothic-horror-movie-melodrama-murder-mystery-satire The Mystery of Irma VepDec. 6-15, at the historic Belcourt Theatre in Hillsboro Village. The show is directed by PBT Artistic Director Ross Brooks.

This spoof of a Gothic, horror, murder mystery, melodrama, recently revived Off-Broadway to raves and is a quick-change marathon where two actors play eight roles as fast as they can.

“This show is a hilarious send-up of the early horror movies Hollywood cranked out in the 1930s,” says Brooks. “It makes fun of some of the most famous monsters in literary and film history, from Dracula to the Wolf Man all the way to Sir Laurence Olivier in the film Rebecca. Ludlam was a huge fan of those old black-and-white films, and his love for the genres of horror and suspense is evident in his mockery of them. Irma Vep is an excellent example of how postmodernism began to emerge as a definite artistic viewpoint in the ’60s and how it still affects us today. By taking familiar characters, concepts and ideas, rearranging them and mocking them, we can understand them in a different light. It was the biggest hit that Ludlam’s company, the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, ever had, and at one point in the early ’90s it was the most-produced play in the United States. We thought it was time to bring it to Nashville. Plus, I thought it would be great to see two actors work as hard and as fast and they can. Eric and Brian are incredibly talented and funny actors, and they should look awful in drag.”

The two-man cast includes veteran character actor Brian Webb Russell and Nashville native Eric D. Pasto-Crosby, both of whom were recently seen in Tennessee Rep’s production of The Crucible.

Between the two of them, they will play eight roles in the production, bringing Ludlam’s bizarre ensemble of over-the-top characters to life. If Monty Python were ever to make a horror film, it might look a little like Irma Vep.

The Mystery of Irma Vep runs Dec. 6-15, at the Belcourt Theatre in Hillsboro Village. Tickets are $18 for general admission and $12 for seniors or students with ID and can be purchased through the Belcourt box office by calling 615-846-3150 or online at For more information about Irma Vep or about People’s Branch, visit or

This show is not intended for young children, although older children are welcome with parental supervision. There will be special effects including fog, strobe lights and gunshots.

by Charles Ludlam
December 6-15, 7:30 p.m. at the Belcourt Theatre
Special pay-what-you-can performance Dec. 12

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