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Shear Madness

Members say: Funny, Entertaining, Clever, Hilarious, Delightful
78
Critics
73
31 reviews
Members
78
380 reviews
 

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.

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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.

 

Cast & Creatives (14)


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Reviews (411)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
73
Avg Score

75
The New York Times

"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

65
Variety

"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

70
The Hollywood Reporter

"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

80
Theatermania

"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

65
Time Out New York

"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

60
Lighting & Sound America

"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

85
Theatre's Leiter Side

""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

85
The Huffington Post

"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

75
Talkin' Broadway

"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

90
TheaterScene.net

"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

46
Bob's Theater Blog

"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

65
CurtainUp

"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

70
Theatre is Easy

"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

30
Broadway Blog

"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

90
Off Off Online

"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

75
American Theater Web

"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

70
Ethan Kanfer: New York Theater Reviews

"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

60
The Reviews Hub

"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

80
Says Me Says Mom

"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

85
ThisbroadSway

"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

85
Examiner

"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

90
Theater Pizzazz

"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

80
Stage Buddy

"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

80
ZEALnyc

"'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

95
DC Theatre Scene

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: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
78
Avg Score

79
Funny, Intelligent, Masterful, Refreshing, Hilarious

See it if you like a lite, funny story, with good acting and a proven strong show. It is a fun show to go see and enjoy.

Don't see it if you don t like audience participation type shows.

25
Banal, Excruciating, Slow

See it if your son is in the play. only a mom would voluntarily sit through this.

Don't see it if you have no obligation to see this show at all. and i'm thinking even if you get free tickets you might want to take a pass.

Also oy vey. what a dud.

70
Funny, Clever, Quirky, Banal, Dizzying improv

See it if you enjoy improv. Strong cast, stays amazingly relevant to everyday current events. BUT, the jokes can be banal, sometimes provoking groans.

Don't see it if you don't like audience participation. They take you there, and THEN some. It was unexpected fun. Pay attention, there WILL be questions.

76
Funny, Clever, Cliched, Entertaining

See it if you want a whodunit with audience participation with funny one liners and performers who ham it up; a fun evening for a variety of ages

Don't see it if you want something intellectual or don't want the 4th wall broken; would be annoyed by some cliched jokes

90
Funny, Clever, Delightful, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if You like an ensemble cast that are very funny and improvise well. You enjoy puns and some references to current events. You like schtick

Don't see it if You don't like audience participation. You don't want comedy.

82
Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if you like funny shows with suspense.

Don't see it if you are not a fan of suspense

78
Funny, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if only enjoy serious drama.

Don't see it if You like funny light theater.

Also You can spend a delightful evening laughing and participating in solvi... Read more Read less

58
Banal, Disappointing, Cliched

See it if you like a completely silly show.

Don't see it if you like humor but with some shred of wit and some originality.

81
Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Hilarious, Great staging

See it if you need a couple of hours of laughter in the theater. A spectacular performance by Jordan Ahnquist alone is worth the price of admission.

Don't see it if you don't like slapstick comedy, or shows with audience participation.

75
Funny, Clever, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if you just want a fun night out.

Don't see it if you are looking for something that will change your life.

74
Funny, Clever, Entertaining

See it if you like a cute amusinh show

Don't see it if you don't like fluff

73
Clever, Disappointing, Cliched, Insipid, Overrated

See it if you are easily entertained or are in love with the idea of multiple possible endings.

Don't see it if you are looking for a really good evening in the theatre. Honestly, I can't imagine why this has run so long. It is quite dumb.

79
Funny, Entertaining, Fluffy, Silly

See it if you want a light, fun murder mystery.

Don't see it if you're looking for something serious or profound.

75
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Trendy

See it if you like shows that with a lot of audience participation and/or shows that are full of extremely current topical references.

Don't see it if you don't like murder mysteries as comedies and/or interactive shows.

80
Funny, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if You like interactive shows and comedy

Don't see it if You want a serious show

75
Funny, Quirky, Relevant, Entertaining, Improv

See it if You like a fun silly play for the whole family. Lots of up to date references.

Don't see it if You are interested in only serious theatre.

89
Funny, Delightful, Must see, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if If you want to have a lot of fun!

Don't see it if I can't think of a reason why not to see Shear Madness!

45
Cliched, Slow, Entertaining, Amusing, Messy

See it if you enjoy audience participation and actors hamming it up to the extreme.

Don't see it if actors breaking character gets old fast or you need a coherent story and genuine intrigue.

85
Funny, Clever, Delightful, Hilarious, Entertaining

See it if You like comedies, audience participation, solving murder mysterys

Don't see it if You want to see something serious

89
Funny, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if See this every year as jokes change

Don't see it if You hate cheesy jokes with a passion

93
Must see, Quirky, Raunchy, Refreshing, Hilarious

See it if interactive fast pace comedy, humor changed daily based on current events. audience votes for who did it

Don't see it if shows that are interactive or want to laugh out loud..

80
Funny, Original, Ambitious, Clever, Delightful

See it if you want some silly fun wrapped around a decent mystery that provides lots of clues and some relevant audience participation.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy giggling, you don't like mysteries that are littered with clues and you hate any audience participation

70
Funny, Clever, Entertaining, Yes, it's murder mystery, Yes, it's audience participation, get on board

See it if you want to laugh in spite of yourself at low denominator humor & absurd situations, & want the opportunity to determine the ending yourself

Don't see it if you think murder mystery is below your pay scale, you dislike audience participation & think you;ve seen this all before

85
Funny, Original, Enchanting, Quirky, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy interactive theater and talented comedic actors

Don't see it if You don't enjoy interactive theater or mysteries

79
Funny, Original, Great writing

See it if You want to participate. Very fun show for all ages. Great acting and writing.

Don't see it if You don't like a bit of improv or shows with audience participation.