Shear Madness Boston

Shear Madness is the longest running play in American history. Its popularity and longevity is due to a combination of improvised comedy and audience interaction, allowing every single performance to be different. Shear Madness is the name of a fictional beauty salon on Newbury Street. An elderly woman that lives upstairs from the salon is murdered. Each person in the six-member cast has a reason to kill her, and through improvisation and audience participation, the murder is eventually solved.

The cast members of the show are: Tony, flamboyant owner of the salon and head beautician; Barbara, a manicurist; Eleanor, a socialite customer; Eddie, a local antiques dealer; and Nick and Mikey, police officers. The audience is essentially the 7th member of the cast; or the "witness" to the crime. Roles and actors are literally subject to change. The actors are rotated on a periodic basis, and also switch roles during each run. The audience is different at every performance of course, which makes each show unique.

Shear Madness Boston
Shear Madness

How does Shear Madness work? Current local events, people, news, culture, and amusing headlines are used as fodder by the actors. Audience members are questioned by the cast on what they believe had just happened in the show. Their replies are then improvised into the dialogue by the actors. The goal is to solve the crime. Audience participation can actually determine who the guilty party is at the end. Impromptu comments by the audience, with improvised joke telling, gets the crowd really laughing.

Shear Madness Boston shares its home with Blue Man Group, at the Charles Playhouse in the theater district. There are minor rules of etiquette for the audience, such as not shouting in groups or revealing aspects of the plot. Children should be at least thirteen years of age. Cameras are not allowed, and will be confiscated if found recording the show.

The Shear Madness show in Boston possesses the world record for longest continuous performance run of any American play, celebrating its thirty-fourth birthday in 2014. The show has been produced in 43 different U.S. cities, and in more than 32 countries. By March 2014, Shear Madness Boston had gone through 10 barber chairs, 105 blow dryers, 300 bottles of stage blood, 220 hairbrushes, 1452 cans of hairspray, 1716 bottles of nail polish, and over 14260 cans of shaving cream.

Shear Madness has been described as a "wacky murder mystery" and a "whodunnit comedy." Improvisation and audience participation continually renew the show, and is the basis of a unique art form.

Contact Information & Address:

Shear Madness at the Charles Playhouse 
74 Warrenton Street 
Boston, MA 02116

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