Shear Madness – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

Be forewarned that the Ivoryton Playhouse is inviting its audiences to evaluate clues, question motives, examine the actions and, ultimately, to solve the crime. The Shear Madness Beauty Salon in Essex, Connecticut is the scene of the murder and one of the owners, assistants or patrons is guilty as sin but which one?

For almost four decades, the mystery comedy “Shear Madness” has been delighting fans in Boston and there is no likelihood of it stopping any time soon. Already hailed as Guiness Book of World Records’ longest running nonmusical production, the play is based on Paul Portner’s serious German murder mystery “Scherenschnitt.” Actors Marilyn Abrams and Bruce Jordan have successfully adapted it into what you will see on the Ivoryton Playhouse stage until Sunday, October 6th.

Continually updated and stuffed with timely, current references, and set in the town where it is playing, “Shear Madness” is a delight of comic confusion where the audience helps the police, Nick O’Brien (Patrick Noonan) and his assistant Mikey Thomas (Lev Harvey).

Working in cahoots, there is a pressing need to determine who had the most to gain if the salon’s landlord and piano virtuoso, the reclusive Isabel Czeony, fortuitously dies.

Is the guilty one the flamboyant salon owner Tony Whitcomb (Jordan Ahnquist) who hates the old lady and her continuous piano playing that is driving him mad? Or could it be his assistant the sexy and pseudo friend to Isabel Barbara DeMarco (Siobhan Fitzgerald) who might have a lot to gain by Isabel’s untimely demise? When the socialite Mrs. Shubert (Lisa McMillan) arrives, the pool of suspects widens for she clearly has secrets she is hiding. Or could be guilty one be the suspicious used antique dealer Eddie Lawrence (Bill Mootos) who might be blackmailing Isabel as well as having an affair with Barbara?

Guess what? You, the audience, decides whodunit and the cast changes the script to fit your decision. With a fair amount of improvisation, the show is not the same on any given night, so many people see it again and again. Bob Lohrmann directs and misdirects your attention in a hundred different ways as you decide who is going to jail for a very long time, and you will surely laugh your way to the guilty verdict.

For tickets ($55, seniors $50, students $25, children $20), call the Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton at 860-767-7318 or online at Performances are

Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m.

Come and recline in an aqua salon chair, courtesy of scenic designer Daniel Nischan, as you await your cut, curl or color and determine who committed the crime d’jour.