Island City Stage Plans Summer Production of Gothic Horror-Romance Satire

If you’re looking for a hilarious gothic horror-romance satire to kick off your summer 2022 entertainment plans, turn your attention to Island City Stage in Wilton Manors.

The showplace’s performance of The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful” by Charles Ludlam opens June 9 and runs through July 10. This comical send-up of gothic romance and horror films features two esteemed regional actors and lightning-fast costume changes. Performers Bruce Linser and Larry Buzzeo star in this show that’s part of Island City Stage’s 10th anniversary season.

Vampire attacks, werewolf sightings and the resurrection of an Egyptian princess are all included in this surprise-filled Island City Stage construct.

Directed by Andy Rogow, Island City’s artistic director, the show focuses on an English estate haunted by the former mistress who has recently passed away – or has she?

Add in mummies, secret identities and a ton of madcap blunders all under the escapist guise of a gothic penny dreadful — grim short stories made popular in the mid-1800s and turned out in large numbers. 

The twist here includes high humor, 35 costume quick-changes and dozens of wigs that bring an eclectic cast of characters to life in this campy classic from Charles Ludlam (1943-1987), creator of New York’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company. 

The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful originally premiered in October 1984 at the Sheridan Square Playhouse in New York City where it played for two years, and it remains Ludlam’s most popular play,” said Rogow.

“Charles Ludlam and The Ridiculous Theatrical Company were pioneers, now legends in LGBT+ theater, elevating camp to an art form and paving the way for companies like Island City Stage,” he added. “We’re thrilled to bring this comedy cult theatre classic to South Florida for new audiences to enjoy.”

Island City Stage is located at 2304 N. Dixie Highway in Wilton Manors. Show tickets are $35 each and are available at For more information and tickets, visit, call (954) 928-9800 or email

Bruce Linser

Both actors bring significant credentials to the Island City venue. Linser is a South Florida actor and director who last appeared at Island City Stage as Philip in The Pride. Other favorite roles include Artie in The House of Blue Leaves (Palm Beach Dramaworks), Man in Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone (Wick Theatre) and Cliff in Cabaret at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. 

Favorite directing projects include Man of La Mancha and Avenue Q (MNM Theatre Company) and Woody Guthrie’s American Song and The Spitfire Grill (Palm Beach Dramaworks). He is also the manager of the Dramaworkshop in charge of new play development at Palm Beach Dramaworks.  

Holding the distinction of “local actor who has appeared in the most Island City Stage productions,” Buzzeo is ecstatic to reprise the role (or roles) for which he won the coveted Loafy award (a loaf of Cuban Bread) in Tampa a decade ago.


Larry Buzzeo

Though he’s a Stamford, Conn., native, Buzzeo’s professional theater life took root in the Sunshine State and Island City Stage is one of his favorite haunts. Fancying himself a character actor, Buzzeo is grateful for the opportunity to bring some truly colorful characters to life in Island City Stage productions including Pig Tale, Hir, Grey Gardens, POZ, Daniel’s Husband and almost every Shorts Gone Wild. His comedy-horror credits also include Dr. Frank-n-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Slow Burn Theatre) and Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein at Pembroke Pines Theatre of Performing Arts. 

The Mystery of Irma Vep: A Penny Dreadful” is sponsored by Robert Korn and Al Menendez with support from Our Fund, the SHS Foundation, the Broward County Cultural Council and Florida Department of State Division of Arts & Culture. 

Island City Stage’s 10th anniversary 2021-22 season kicked off with The Twentieth Century Way by Tom Jacobson in October, followed by Armature by Andrew Kramer and Suddenly Last Summer by Tennessee Williams.

Founded in 2012, Island City Stage produces award-winning professional theatrical performances rich with LGBTQ+ history, stories and characters, but with a heart and soul that is truly universal. It specializes in developing new work in addition to featuring the work of playwrights who expose audiences to different voices and diverse experiences.

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *