Sick, blood-soaked ‘Penny Dreadful’ back for ImprovBoston GoreFest, starts Oct. 23

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Matt Walczak stars as Dr. Listenburg and Liz Roderick as Madame Listenburg in ImprovBoston’s “ The Gruesome Tale of Penny Dreadful.” (Photo: Scott Istvan)
Matt Walczak stars as Dr. Listenburg and Liz Roderick as Madame Listenburg in ImprovBoston’s “ The Gruesome Tale of Penny Dreadful.” (Photo: Scott Istvan)

GoreFest, the ImprovBoston comedy club’s 12-year Halloween tradition, calls for easily washable clothes and a sick sense of humor – the point is to spray as many bodily fluids as jokes off the Central Square stage.

This year resurrects its steampunky, Dickensian-era musical “The Gruesome Tale of Penny Dreadful” from nine years back, with Matt Chapuran now directing instead of starring as Dr. Listenburg, the show’s unwitting villain. Creator Don Schuerman said he wrote the role for Chapuran, and thinks the comic actor will make “the perfect director for this year’s revival.”

Chapuran’s take on the show brings the actors even closer to the audience for what he calls “a fully immersive experience” – which should read as a warning for people who don’t want to be soaked or at least splattered with fake blood over the course of a Broadway-style immorality tale.

“It’s a thrill to revisit this show,” Chapuran said. “Bringing it to a more intimate space is going to make every drop of blood and every note of music more memorable for the audience.”

The theater’s official blurb about the show:

An ImprovBoston tradition, GoreFest is an intimate splatter musical with a steampunk vibe, dripping with unidentifiable bodily fluids and lacking in good taste. Dismemberment, disfigurement, disgust and dancing abound in ‘Penny Dreadful,’ a Victorian-era love story that meets bawdy original musical comedy.

The cast includes Julia Deegler, Mac Gostow, Ciarán Grumley, Sarah Jacobs, Jimi McAvoy, Lauren Robinson, Liz Roderick, Bryan Smith, and Matt Walczak. Musical direction is by Steve Sarro and choreography by Deegler. The design team includes Emily Rosser, doing costume design; Sam Monk, gore and effects designer; Kimberly Margolis, properties designer; and Josh Garneau, technical director). Caitlin Mason is the stage manager and Christine Toohey is the producer.

“The Gruesome Tale of Penny Dreadful,” with a book by Don Schuerman, music by Steve Gilbane and lyrics by both, runs Oct. 23-Nov. 1 at ImprovBoston, 40 Prospect St., Central Square. The eight showings are at 7:30, 8 or 9:30 p.m., depending on the day (and there are two shows Oct. 31). Tickets are $25, or $18 for students when bought at the door. Information is here.

This post was written from a press release.

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