Review: SHEAR MADNESS at Straz Center

The production runs through April 8

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Thanks to the pandemic, it's been a few years since I laughed as hard as I did at Straz Center's production of Shear Madness. Set in the city the show takes place - for us, present-day Ybor City - this screwball interactive whodunit murder mystery is set in a hair salon. It follows the investigation of a murder in the apartment above the salon. Unlike typical shows, we, the audience, are a crucial part of the play, and our participation determines the show's ending. We are asked to follow the clues to help solve the crime by calling out questions and accusations about the suspects in the hair salon. Like a choose-your-own-adventure book, the results change nightly based on the audience votes.

While the Straz is known for outstanding Broadway tour productions, this Straz-produced comedy highlights the talents of the local theatre community.

Expertly directed by Bruce Jordan, with lighting design by Jo Averill-Snell and costume design by Nadalia H.M.Z, the eccentric cast of characters stars Jessica Moraton as Barbara DeMarco, Shaun Memmel as Mikey Thomas, RP McLaughlin as Tony Whitcomb, Luis Rivera as Eddie, Aaron Castle as Nick, and Roz Potenza as Mrs. Shubert.

The sextuplet is superb in chemistry and comedic timing.

Jessica is delightful as the spicy, street-smart - albeit ditzy - forgetful stylist Barbara DeMarco. She has laugh-out-loud fun bits, including bending over and shoving her boobs into the face of an unsuspecting customer simply wanting his hair washed. Her interactions with flamboyant shop owner RP are comedy gold. Speaking of RP, some of my favorite scenes include shampoo, shaving cream, and YMCA. One should never try to drink their water during RP's scenes because said liquid will likely exit through your nose as you choke back your

Review: A Stunning Take on A Classic Piece, Makes This Top-Notch ALL MY SONS One to Remember at TampaRep
Photo by James Zambon Photography

laughter. Mrs. Shubert, the wealthy senior socialite in a red dress and matching hat, reminded me of what Ms. Howell would have been like had she been rescued from "Gilligan's Island." She put on the perfect air of self-entitlement - wanting to leave, not to be late for a vacation - despite being a suspect in a murder investigation happening in front of her. Luis was the precision combination of sexy and slimy, a businessman whose practices needed work. His audience interaction was another highlight of the night. "Put the cuffs on him," an audience member bellowed from the rear of the theatre. The cops, gruff, all-business, by-the-book Aaron and adorable, nerdy Shaun, played off each other exceptionally well. Aaron is a master of keeping the show's pace going as he merges the scripted material with questions coming in rapid fire from the audience. Shaun's hair wash with Jessica was another hilarious scene.

The ensemble's improv talent makes for an unforgettable, hysterical experience. The dialogue is clever and witty, and it's fun to hear commentary about current events and especially relatable local items of interest.

Shear Madness is a great show for anyone who enjoys a good murder mystery and wants a good laugh. Full of improv, zinger one-liners, and suspense, it will keep you entertained from beginning to end.

If you're looking for a fun night out and a storyline full of twists and turns that keeps you guessing until the murderer's reveal, I highly recommend Shear Madness. With a cast full of cut-ups, it will be sheer madness if you miss Shear Madness.

Shear Madness is through April 8 at Straz Center. Learn more about the show and purchase tickets at Click Here

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