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Off Broadway

Shear Madness

Thomas Ellenson

Last week I saw the Off-Broadway comedy "Shear Madness," a Guinness World Record holder for longest running play in the history of the United States. After smash hit productions in cities like Boston and Washington DC, Shear Madness finally made its New York City debut at New World Stages last year. 


"Shear Madness" is an interactive whodunnit set in a Hell's Kitchen hair salon. The landlady, a concert pianist who lives upstairs, is mysteriously murdered by one of the four suspects who were in the salon that afternoon: a flamboyant hairdresser, a flirty stylist, a rich Upper East Side socialite, and an "antique dealer" with a shady past. What makes the play unique is that the audience gets to question the suspects and pick the murderer, so the ending is different with each performance. The book by Paul Portner is filled with pop cultural references from "Hamilton" to Perez Hilton and the Kardashians. These topical jokes plus the fourth-wall breaking concept makes it an audience favorite.

The Acting:

Everyone in the 6-person cast was great in their respective roles. Scene-stealing Jordan Ahnquist played Tony, the flamboyant hairdresser, whose antics even made some of the actors onstage break character and laugh. Tony winner Cady Huffman was an excellent new addition to the cast as socialite Mrs. Shubert. Kate Middleton and Adam Gerber rounded out the suspects, and Patrick Noonan as an undercover cop (with help from Jonathan Randell Silver as his assistant) guided the audience through the participation portion of the show. 

My opinion:

"Shear Madness" is pure fun from the scripted moments to the changing improv with each performance. The unique concept makes it a hilarious show that is always worth a return visit to see a different ending. I give it 9/10 escapes! "Shear Madness" currently has an open-ended run, but will soon move from New World Stages to the Davenport Theatre.