Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Shear Madness - An Hilarious Whodunit That Changes Every Night

"Isabella Churney was nuts. She was taking Viagra. She heard it would make an old pianist perform better".

So who murdered the crazy old concert pianist? Truth be told, in Marilyn Abrams and Bruce Jordan's production "Shear Madness" at the Charles Playhouse on Stuart Street in Boston, it could, quite frankly be anyone on the stage.  

That's because Shear Madness is an interactive whodunit where the audience's participation and interrogation, perceptiveness and majority vote determines the killer, so it literally changes with the show. 

And the options are abundant. Barbara (Boston Magazine's Best of Boston, Actress 2013's Celeste Oliva) the ambitious potential lesbian love interest might be the heir to Isabella's fortune. She does spend alot of time alone with Isabella, "Lesbionic? Do you think they were gay robots?" and with limited education, evidence by her assertion that she'd like to one day visit the countries of "France, Italy and Europe", Mrs. Churney might be her ticket out of the basement salon.

And speaking of the salon, Tony (Jordan Ahnquist) rents the space from Mrs. Churney whose incessant banging of piano keys makes him hysterically irate. His over-the-top emotions punctuate his, ahem, fancy flair, as does his cache of colorful one-liners. "That towel is hot, like Channing Tatum hot!" Given his explosive nature,  and his disappearance at the time of the event, which he attributes to a fear of fire,  "I thought the building was on fire and I was worried about my cats, Bill and Hillary. I told Hillary to run but she said not till 2016. Bill kept chasing his tail", and with the discovery of stylist scissors in the trash at the crime scene, he looks as guilty as Barbara.

But there's also a good case that it might be Eddie (Joe Ruscio), the seedy antiques dealer who appears to be simultaneously scamming the old eccentric out of her piano and courting Churney's alleged lover, Barbara. So the audience wonders, are Barbara and Eddie in it together?

Then there's salon client, old Mrs Shubert (Mary Klug) who is peculiar and suspicious and knows the artist personally. Shubert makes a secretive phone call after the crime is committed, but she claims to have called her butler and  lover, Frederick who entertains her while, "Mr. Shubert is in France. He's staying In the Paris Hilton. It's crowded but quite comfortable". What's more, Mrs. Shubert keeps trying to get out of the beauty parlor during interrogations and off to the airport "I've got to make it to the airport and I don't want to be late for my pat down". She's an easy culprit, and an absolute riot - I am very much looking forward to seeing Ms. Klug in the upcoming Whitey Bulger movie with  Johnny Depp where she plays Mrs. Bulger.

And even the (oh-so Boston) police, Mikey and Nick (Joseph Marrella and Christopher Tarjan) can't quite explain WHY they are at Ms Churney's home that day BEFORE she is murdered, though they do entertain local and visiting audiences with endless allusions to the bean town scene "Jesus, Mary and Bill Belichick". I particularly like the Boston-isms - they speak to the locals while making tourists feel like they are in on something. Well played.

The cast performances were positively side-splitting and the injection of friendly off-color banter on and off stage set a tone for no-holds-barred hilarity that audiences will enjoy again and again. I won't tell you who did it this time, but it wouldn't matter, because next time it'll be totally different.


Shear Madness" is one of the most popular entertainments in the world, delighting audiences night after night with its unique blend of madcap improvisation and spine-tickling mystery.

This unique comedy-whodunit takes place today in the "Shear Madness" hairstyling salon and is chock full of up-to-the-minute spontaneous humor. During the course of the action, a murder is committed and the audience gets to spot the clues, question the suspects, and solve the funniest mystery in the annals of crime.The outcome is never the same, which is why many audience members return again and again to the scene of the mayhem.

Voted "Best Comedy of the Year" seven times by the Boston Globe and recipient of the title "Best Play of the Year" by both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Philadelphia Enquirer, "Shear Madness" has also received the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America and has been inducted into the Comedy Hall of Fame, the first play ever to receive that accolade. "Shear Madness" is listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the longest running play in the history of the USA.

The flagship Boston company has given birth to 42 productions in the US and "Shear Madness" has been translated into 10 foreign languages, playing worldwide in a host of cities including Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Paris, Rejkavik, Rome, Tel Aviv, Melbourne, Johannesburg and Seoul.

Over 10.6 million people worldwide have joined in the fun, and while no one
has actually died laughing, some are still rolling in the aisles.

Tuesday-Friday 8PM
Saturday 6 and 9PM
Sunday 3 and 7PM

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