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The Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild’s production of “The Mystery of Irma Vep” will run at the Grand Theatre Jan. 13-16, 20-23.

EAU CLAIRE — What happened to Irma Vep?

Theatre lovers and novice showgoers alike just might be able to answer that very question following a night of laughter with the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild and their production of “The Mystery of Irma Vep.”

“The Mystery of Irma Vep,” written by Charles Ludlum in 1987, is a “hilarious spoof of Gothic melodramas, Hitchcock films and campy 50’s movies” that will take audience members on a wild and wacky journey — from England to the pyramids of Egypt.

This satirical play follows the story of Lord Edgar; his second wife, Lady Enid; their house staff, Jane and Nicodemus; and a host of monstrous creatures as Edgar investigates the mysterious death of his first wife, Irma Vep.

The catch? Only two actors are allowed to be cast in any production of “The Mystery of Irma Vep” — and it is a licensing requirement that these actors be of the same gender. The two actors play a total of eight different characters and, throughout the two-hour production, there are around 35 costume changes.

“The people who really are doing the hard work will be the set crew because they have to completely change the actors in less than 30 seconds,” said Katie Schumacher, co-director of the production. “They go from one character to the next character in less than 30 seconds. And we have a wonderful, delightful crew that’s back there that’s making the magic happen.”

Schumacher agreed to co-direct “The Mystery of Irma Vep” after being asked by her mentor, co-director Bob Carr. Schumacher has directed around 15-to-20 community productions, most of which were through the CVTG.

Schumacher said the best way to understand “The Mystery of Irma Vep” is to compare it to an old episode of Scooby-Doo. It’s a murder mystery that will have audience members constantly guessing “who doneit” until the culprit is unmasked in the end.

“It is funny, it’s lighthearted,” Schumacher said. “Right now we need humor and we need belly laughs. And there are jokes throughout the performance that are written into the script, so it makes it rather interesting. You just want to laugh, and with COVID and everything else, this is a great show — just silly.”

Directing a cast of two made for an interesting experience, Schumacher reported. With the chaotic scene and costume changes, Schumacher said she and her co-director were glad to have such dedicated actors.

“With both Micah and Josh, they’re both experienced, so it’s been a joy and a pleasure,” she said. “They’ve had a lot, a lot, of work. And they’ve worked a lot on their own. I’m very proud of them. Bob is very proud of them. And they’ve put a lot of time and effort into this.”

Josh Hammes-Murray and Micah Arciniega were both recruited for their respective roles in “The Mystery of Irma Vep.”

The two main characters played by Hammes-Murray are Lord Edgar and Jane. Hammes-Murray has done around 50 shows in the last 15 years. Though he was initially hesitant to take on the daunting roles, Hammes-Murray said he likes a challenge.

“This is the most intimidating show I’ve ever seen,” Hammes-Murray explained. “There’s just so many lines that I think most people were scared of it or were just too busy to do it.

“I’m very used to being completely off-book, I can have my script memorized in two weeks,” he added, “but we’re still having to look at it a week before the show and it’s a little nerve-wracking because there’s so much to it, and this particular script is very wordy, in general, and the words themselves — it’s a melodrama. It’s very over-the-top and the lines are ridiculous.”

Hammes-Murray described “The Mystery of Irma Vep” as hectic, intentionally confusing and hysterical.

“If Mel Brooks and Monty Python had a baby, it would be this show,” Hammes-Murray said. “It’s very much just ridiculous and over-the-top. It’s a good show, it’s just a lot for the people who do it. If you do it right, it’s a great show.”

The two main characters played by Arciniega are Lady Enid and Nicodemus. This will be Arciniega’s sixth show with the CVTG.

Arciniega said the process of preparing for opening night has been stressful, but fun. He’s enjoyed meeting the people involved with the production, and he hopes audience members will get a good laugh from the show.

“It’s a ridiculous play and you’re not really going to get the plot. It’s just to have fun,” Arciniega said. “If you like laughing it’s just a good show where you don’t really have to think about it, you just watch the characters run around and change into crazy outfits and say crazy stuff and just laugh.”

Schumacher said she and Carr have been working on “The Mystery of Irma Vep” for four or five months now. Hammes-Murray and Arciniega have been rehearsing for around two months.

Schumacher says audiences should come “to forget your cares and … just come and enjoy an evening of laughter, of stupid fun.”