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Review: SHEAR MADNESS at Totem Pole Playhouse

Review: SHEAR MADNESS at Totem Pole Playhouse

If Nancy Drew wants a new 'do, she should head to the Shear Madness hair salon, where kitschy characters, 80s jams and a dark secret lie.

Luckily, you don't have to be an esteemed detective to get in on the fun. Shear Madness at Totem Pole Playhouse is a hilarious murder mystery that lets the audience determine whodunit. It all begins at the Shear Madness salon, when the upstairs landlord won't stop loudly practicing piano is found dead on the ground, stabbed with a pair of hair-snipping scissors. As the salon employees and regulars are questioned, they realize they've been being watched -- by about 200 witnesses in the audience.

With a star cast portraying quirky hairstylists Barbara and Tony (Maryanne Piccolo and Shane Partlow), society woman Mrs. Shubert (Lisa McMillan), antique dealer Eddie (Christian Cardoza) and two detectives, Nick and Mikey (Craig Benton and Zack Powell), it's hard to decide who committed the murder, but a hell of a lot of fun.

From about 10 minutes before the scripted show actually begins, and through intermission to the end, each cast member is entirely in character. They're available to chat audience theories about the suspects and answer questions about where they were at the time of the murder. It's a completely immersive experience that includes laughs and drama along the way.

Totem Pole's production was certainly professional quality, and director Rown Joseph went above-and-beyond with the pre-show slapstick performance and intermission interaction, not to mention slight changes to the play itself to set it in Central PA. The soundtrack of beloved 80s songs was nostalgic and fun. Sets by Johnathan Robertson put you inside a real hair salon, with working sink, actual hair transformations and immaculate details.

Shear Madness has a secret itself -- each night the show is different. Like a choose-your-own-adventure book, the audience guides the performance, and different endings can come to be.

So get out your magnifying glass and settle in for a night of murder makeovers. Shear Madness at Totem Pole Playhouse runs until June 16 and tickets can be purchased HERE.

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From This Author - Alyssa Biederman

Alyssa Biederman is a senior journalism and political science major at Temple University with a passion for theater. Since leaving her theater career as an actress and singer behind after ente... (read more about this author)