Robert Harry Score’s Review of Shear Madness

 July 20, 2019

Shadowland Stages

Ellenville

The Title Says It All!

     If any play could be maddeningly comical, this one is it. Imagine the set of Steel Magnolias perverted    to that of Little Shop of Horrors and then have the Marx Brothers complete a rewrite. On top of that hodgpodge, convert the script into a murder mystery, involving the audience in the convoluted process of solving the murder. Written by German playwright Paul Pörtner, Shear Madness is two hours of side-splitting laughter and a whole lot of fun.

 

At times this production borrows from classic slapstick, as each character is played to the maximum potential by a perfectly cast ensemble. As adventure, this theatrical journey takes place in the Shear Madness Hairstyling Salon in mid-afternoon. The salon’s proprietors, a tattooed, gum chewing Barbara Demarco, vividly and convincingly brought to Sadowland Stages by Kathy Leland, is teamed with and a rather gay, super-hyper Tony Whitcomb. He is also right on target, efficiently holding the stage as the “plot” progresses. The two are occupied as they tend to customers: one a bespectacled, bowtied Mikey Thomas, accompanied by hard-hat, lunch box carrying Nick O’Brien. At the same time, slinking around the salon is a suit with briefcase, Eddie Lawrence. Oh! Add to this mix of characters the overbearing, elderly socialite in red, Mrs. Shubert in a hurry to have her hair done.

There’s more: A has-been, reclusive concert pianist upstairs, is discovered murdered! Mikey Thomas and Nick O’Brien turn out to be cops - Ellenville cops. The other four characters now are suspects.

The fun begins! Most fun of all, everyone in the audience is a witness and everyone gets to decide who the murderer is. Wherever this play is staged it gets tailored to the particular locale. In this case, one liners and jokes abound throughout the play aimed at everything and everybody: Ellenville, Ulster and Orange Counties, and New York.

Ed Rosini and Jeff Haffner play the cops in a comedy duo in a delightful double act tradition reminiscent of the iconic comedy act of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Michael Irvin Pollard as Eddie Lawrence is as comical as he is shady and overly suspicious. Marina Re makes for a haughty, overbearing well-to-do socialite that would have given Groucho Marx fits.

 As mentioned above, Kelsey Leland was a joy to watch in her portrayal of a small-town beauty. Any guy would die to have her do his nails. Finally, there’s Jason Edward Cook’s tour de force as Tony Whitcomb. From beginning to end he sparkled around the edges and whole of the stage like a Fourth of July Roman candle - firing off endless gaffs and one liners.

 Director Brenden Burke and his cast and crew have managed to stir the whole of downtown Ellenville into an uproarious festival of hilarious theatre. Shadowland’s Shear Madness is the perfect night out for an evening of summer fun!

Shear Madness will continue its run at Shadowland Stages through August 18th. Tickets and additional information are available at the Box Office 845-647-5511 or online https://shadowlandstages.org/

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