Shear Madness Theater Review – Chicago’s Hilarious Whodunit!

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Shear Madness, the hit comedic murder-mystery that has slayed the hearts of audiences around the world for more than 40 years, is now playing at Chicago’s Mercury Theater, through April 26, 2020.

Cast of Shear Madness

The play involves a mysterious nursery above the Shear Madness Salon – leaving it to the audience to catch the killer among the actors. A murder is committed, and the audience gets to spot the clues, question the suspects and solve the funniest mystery in the annals of crime. The outcome is never the same, which is why many audience members return again and again to the scene of the mayhem. New clues and up to the minute improvisation deliver a different show every night!

Cast of Shear Madness

When I went to see the performance, I had no idea that it has been a humorous comedic cult show for over four decades! The overall show was very funny and well crafted; obviously, let’s shove all the suspects into the closet during police interrogation; that’s an excellent idea!

The cast was spot on for Shear Madness, which included Ed Cross, Mary Robin Roth, Brittany D. Parker, David Sajewich, Joe Popp and Sam Woods

A favorite actor/character in the cast that my guest and I both admired was Mary Robin Roth, who played the elderly, wealthy socialite. Her performance and humor were spot on. Then there was the stereotypical homosexual hairdresser, Tony, played by Ed Cross. Cross made the role his own and was very lovable and hilarious in the part. (Even though the audience knew the shaving razor was not sharp, we all couldn’t help holding our breath as he shaved and knocked the detectives chin)!

Cast of Shear Madness

The acting and performances were all hilarious, but the show consisted of one too many gags and puns that got a bit tiring after a while. If there had been fewer of them, the jokes themselves would have been funnier, and have had much more impact on the audience. 

Cast of Shear Madness

The best part of Shear Madness is, of course, the interactive part where the audience participates to help detect the murderer. My guest and I greatly enjoyed the experience, as did the rest of the audience that evening. It was entertaining to be part of the story line and volunteer our perspectives and opinions to the actors. 

I also greatly admired the talented actors for practicing and memorizing so many different story lines/endings. This was of course due to the person that the audience chooses as the murderer, and the cast obviously needs to prepare a variety of endings depending on the outcome. They all transitioned seamlessly into the one the audience (inadvertently) selected. After the sleazy boyfriend (David Sajewich) was selected by the audience as the killer, I kept wondering how the ending would have played out for each of the other characters. 

Cast of Shear Madness

Photos: Courtesy of The Mercury Theater

Original Play Written by Paul Pörtner

Adapted by Marilyn Abrams and Bruce Jordan

Who is Shear Madness recommended for?

Recommended for ages 12+ but all ages are welcome. There is some innuendo, but it’s all in good fun. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, call the box office number below, or visit the website

For ADA seating or any special accommodation requests, please call our box office at (773) 325-1700.


Wednesdays at 8pm

Thursdays at 8pm

Fridays at 8pm

Saturdays at 3pm & 8pm

Sundays at 3pm 

Running time: 

2 Hours (including 15 minute intermission)

Stage: Mercury Theater Mainstage

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