The New York premiere of America’s longest running comedy is a whodunit set in a Hell's Kitchen hair salon, filled with up-to-the-minute humor and nail-biting suspense. More…
The set-up always remains the same, yet the script is rewritten to ensure the freshest, most relevant, even spontaneous humor—and a different ending every time. The audience plays along, too, questioning the suspects like a bona fide 'Sherlock Holmes,' as they try to solve the murder mystery down at the 'Shear Madness' salon.
"The energizing conceit of the play is its reliance on audience participation that adds considerably to the entertainment…The quick-witted Mr. Noonan really has to steer the show and he winningly does this with his great comedic timing, terrific improvisational skills, everyman persona, and by blowing a police whistle to establish order…New Yorkers can now finally experience the mirthfully compelling antics of 'Shear Madness.'" Full Review
"The lunatic confection at New World Stages indicates the opposite: all those years have helped create an indestructible engine for laughter that should keep its cast bankrolled for quite some time...since this is a murder mystery, it would spoil things to reveal too much more. Suffice it to say that 'Shear Madness' is a hoot." Full Review
"The show exceeds its decades long promise of delivering enjoyably zany characters, clever surprises, and a rousing good time. But best of all, it lets you – yes, you – solve the crime at the center of the plot." Full Review
""Many of the laughs are of the wink-wink, self-consciously groan-worthy type, with characters who should know better nuking the language and setting off radioactive puns, double entendres, and malapropisms...What do I mean by groan-worthy? How about the close friendship between two women being called a Lebanese relationship? . . . Groan away, but there are so many you’ll eventually have to crack a smile...'Shear Madness' may have found yet another home for its worldwide franchise." Full Review
"How appealing does a seeming farce sound that's been fruitcaked with broad topical jokes and takes place in a beauty salon? Okay, it doesn't matter how it sounds, when as it plays, it turns out to be consistently entertaining...The set-up with audience participation is one explanation for the built-in 'Shear Madness' fun. There are two other major factors. The gags, the puns, the references may often be shameless, but they can also be downright hilarious." Full Review
"There has been a murder, and one of four suspects at the Shear Madness Salon is guilty. You are the judge and jury, and it’s mad fun...One line is funnier than the next...The real fun begins when they turn up the house lights and let the audience take part in the investigation by recreating all the activity up to the time of the murder...Since the audience is not limited to script, you can only imagine the amount of funny that comes out during the Q&A." Full Review
"What really makes this show come alive is the acting from a very appealing cast. They are funny and very expressive and in some instances very extreme in what they are thinking and doing. Some of the actions dealing with shampoos and shaves is really hilarious." Full Review
"Using a thoroughly realistic set and equally authentic costumes, Jordan's staging is absurdly enjoyable, even in its weaker moments. True, the cast members have been directed to be too loud, and the dialogue is more ungainly than graceful. But all such quibbles disappear when everyone in the room has one focused goal: to figure out who killed Isabel. 'Shear Madness' is like a funny version of Law & Order — and it's the perfect show for those among us who think we can spot the murderer." Full Review
"Although 'Shear Madness' is a murder mystery, it is more of a comedy. The show is not at all scary as the murder is only talked about and does not even take place on stage. The show is very entertaining and extremely funny...Although the characters in the show are somewhat clichéd, they are very well played by the talented cast...Older children would probably enjoy it...A very amusing show." Full Review
"The actors are, as you would expect, excellent improvisors, prepared to answer any question an audience member may throw out to them during the interrogation section. This cast works seamlessly together and because of that the flow of the show is very smooth...If you're looking for a laugh, 'Shear Madness' has got you covered. With a script full of one liners, a truly comedic cast, and a different murderer every night you'll experience a one-of-a-kind night at the theatre." Full Review
"Where 'Shear Madness' has the advantage is in its inclusive spirit of fun…This is genuinely all-ages entertainment, not a 'family-friendly' show that will leave grown-ups stultified...The tone depends hugely on the performers, and here this production does very well, particularly with Mr. Noonan, who, as the lead investigator, is impressively skilled at crowd control, and Mr. Ahnquist, whose Tony is an unapologetic sprite." Full Review
"There's nothing of note to care about in the script...The audience's questions and eagle eyes push the cast and the story in new directions, and reveal a bewilderingly in-depth amount of detail beneath the craziness. That's what makes 'Shear Madness' so special despite its pedestrian underpinnings: You're seeing the purest expression of theatre, with the performers and audience in such symbiotic communion that they must create something bigger together than would otherwise be possible." Full Review
"Interactive theater comedies don’t get much daffier or more featherweight than the whodunit 'Shear Madness'...Given the glee that the show inspired at a recent press preview, it would seem that theatergoers are eager to take part in the murder mystery experience...The show requires a company skilled in both scripted and improvisational comedy, and director Bruce Jordan has at his disposal a sextet of performers who deliver both with panache." Full Review
"The script features a barrage of lame one-liners and predictable gags...The overall atmosphere is so giddily loony that it becomes infectious, and the talented ensemble work so hard at getting laughs that their efforts are justly rewarded." Full Review
"The show is not high art, but of course that's not its aim. The jokes are cheesy and the characters border on the offensively stereotypical—a gay hairdresser? really?—but, amazingly enough, if you know that this is what you’re in for, it works...I couldn’t help but smile and enjoy being part of a show that is simply a really good time, because don’t we need those once in a while?" Full Review
"Like any newly arrived out-of-towner, the show hasn’t yet fully adapted to Manhattan’s rhythms and sensibilities. It does, however, feature a cast of charming and improv-savvy actors, and with some tuning-up, 'Shear Madness' has the potential to do well in Gotham...More than the murder mystery plot line, the comic tension created by the show’s unknown outcome gives the show its theatrical energy...its script would benefit from some trimming, shaping and styling." Full Review
"Extended out-of-town tryouts are the stuff of legend — but 36 years? 'Shear Madness,' with franchises all over the country, was originally intended to open in New York after a 1980 Boston tryout. But Beantown audiences were so receptive that the show just kept running...The comedy still isn’t sharp enough for Gotham, but the show’s improvisational nature demands constant topical updates — and New Yorkers won’t be shy about telling the company where to go." Full Review
"Director Bruce Jordan has gathered an excellent cadre of character actors for 'Shear Madness’s' belated New York premiere…Well acted if not exactly captivating, 'Shear Madness' is as insubstantial as Trump’s coiffure. It’s entertainment whipped up for those who find murder, at least in fictional form, potentially uproarious." Full Review
"What's noteworthy is the cast. The six well-trained actors may not have imagined that, at this point in their careers, they'd be playing characters as flat and stereotypical as these; but their comedic and improvisational virtuosity and their funny, sometimes witty, ad libs make 'Shear Madness' a reasonable choice for bachelorette parties, millennial date nights, and youth groups visiting from afar." Full Review
"A show that will appeal to bachelorette parties, groups spending a night on the town, and others looking for a few laughs -- but who are not necessarily interested in the theatre per se -- 'Shear Madness' is essentially beyond criticism. The audience at the performance I attended had a fine time. I was aghast, then mildly amused -- and I voted with the majority for the killer." Full Review
"Part farce, part whodunit, and part choose-your-own-adventure story, 'Shear Madness' is entertaining but weak. There is enough fun and fluff to keep most people amused and engaged, but for a production that has run and been workshopped for several decades in various cities before opening in New York, it is not as polished as one would hope." Full Review
"The jokes seemed forced and the actors seemed to be working hard. How this show has attracted audiences for over 35 years is the real mystery to me. Why TDF is lending its support is another question. The set by Will Cotton looks authentic. Bruce Jordan’s direction is indulgent. If you attend, get there a few minutes early because the onstage action starts before the curtain time." Full Review
"At best, the humor is juvenile and rarely funny. The script changes often based on current events, so expect to hear jabs about Ben Carson, Donald Trump, the Clintons, Bill Cosby, and closeted homosexuals. Don’t expect anything clever, though. While marketing ensures us that these jokes are 'fresh', they are little more than recycled bits from late night talk shows without the punch." Full Review
"'Shear Madness' is an hilarious whodunit set in a local hair salon that turns into a crazy murder scene. Best of all, there’s no need for a spoiler alert, since the ending is different every time—because the audience gets to solve the crime." Full Review
for a previous production "'Shear Madness' is still sharp, silly and totally engaging. Everything works in 'Shear Madness.' And by ‘everything works,’ I mean that you will laugh until you no longer think you have it in you. It works when the actors interact with each other and it really works when a murder takes place and the tension mounts among the suspects. And the entire experience is made whole when the detectives look to the audience to question the possible perpetrators." Full Review
See it if You want to laugh; you enjoy whodunits, interactive shows, and improvisation. If you want an even more ridiculous version of Edwin Drood.
Don't see it if You want to be a passive audience member, don't like whodunits or comedy, want something dramatic.
See it if are in a good mood, and like interacting with the actors! Want a fun night at the theatre, and want to play a game while watching a play.
Don't see it if You don't like/want audience interaction. Don't like storylines being decided by audience. You are in the mood for a consistent narrative.
See it if If you're up for a laugh, go see Shear Madness, it's a hysterical and clever murder mystery
Don't see it if You don't enjoy murder mysteries where you interact with the characters, and the ending is based on your opinion!
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies