BWW Review: SHEAR MADNESS at The Forum Theatre Company, Wichita gets to pick who done it
Set in a fun and funky hair salon, Shear Madness concludes The Forum Theatre Company's 2019 production season in a big and bold way. The plot, almost from Clue the movie, has action that centers around figuring out exactly who murdered Isabel Churney with none other than hair cutting shears. If you go, which I do highly recommend, pay close attention to the action at the beginning of the show. It will be useful later to help solve the murder mystery. Filled with Wichita current events and references plus greatly polished improv from the cast, you can't keep from laughing but also appreciate the hard work and dedication which went into crafting out a carefully selected play thanks to producing artistic director, Kathy Page Hauptman.
A troupe of six actors make up the company. They are Charleen Ayers (Mrs. Shubert), Jen Bechter (Barbara DeMarco), Ted Dvorak (Mikey Thomas), Tom Frye (Eddie Lawrence), Simeon Rawls (Tony Whitcomb), and Ray Wills (Nick Rosetti).
Dvorak and Wills team up as a good-hearted duo of Wichita Police Department officers trying to thoroughly investigate all suspects in the show while aiding the audience along the way in this full-on participation production. Wills lucks out with hilarious Law and Order-esque interrogation scenes alluding to Taylor Swift and Spice Girls songs. Ayers, a masters graduate of Yale University, plays a haughty Mrs. Schubert with ease. Her aura and radiance shines, having been no stranger to leading lady roles. Frye, a Wichita favorite, is a riot! There were moments in the show where I thought to myself, 'How old is Tom Frye?' only taking note of how remarkably sharp his comedic timing is for whatever age he may truly be. Rawls portrays an especially effeminate employee of Shear Madness salon with wonderful ability. His strong, committed choices justify his rightful position in the role and comforts the audience with his overt flamboyancy. Though cussing at times like a gay sailor, it sends the audience rolling with genuine belly aches of snickers. But it is Jen Bechter who is truly most impressive of all. Attending different nights means there is a different killer. On the night I attended, Bechter was the killer and thus, she got to deliver a riveting monologue revealing her motivating motive as to why she did it.
Other honorable mentions include Adam Akers' sound design, which made all actors incredibly audible. Costumes were fitting, also done by Hauptman. It was the fun box set, however, by designer Ben Juhnke that made all the staging and blocking make perfect sense.
Shear Madness runs every weekend until May 19th. For ticket reservations call 316.618.0444.