Shear Madness at Florida Studio Theatre

Arts & Culture

Pictured: Shear Madness 6: (Pictured – Left to Right): Jordan Ahnquist (Tony Whitcomb), Lisa McMillan (Mrs. Shubert), Shaun Memmel (Mikey Thomas) . Photo by John Jones..

When Bruce Jordan and Marilyn Abrams saw a production of Paul Portner's Scherenschnitt in Düsseldorf in the 1970s, they had no idea of just how much the play would change their lives. “The play was a very dark murder mystery, completely free of humor,” says Jordan. “What struck me was the production’s potential for comedy–the minute the audience was invited to be a part of the play, their observations and influence made a serious story very funny. In 1976, I was performing a very serious translation of Scherenschnitt in a dinner theater in Lake George, New York, and I wrote to Marilyn saying that we needed to turn the play into a comedic murder mystery localized to the setting that the production was airing in.”

In 1978, Shear Madness was born–an interactive comedic murder mystery in which the audience works with the cast to solve the murder of the lady living above the Shear Madness salon. Since then, Shear Madness has become the longest-running, nonmusical play in American Theater history, with 12,610 consecutive performances in Boston, 9,850 consecutive performances in Washington, D.C. and countless other productions around the world. This summer, Shear Madness comes to Sarasota with a slot in Florida Studio Theatre’s Summer Mainstage Series. The production, which airs from May 31 to June 25, is returning to FST for the first time since its two year run from 2010 to 2011. “Even though we last did this play at FST over a decade ago, to me it’s like it happened yesterday,” says Jordan, who will direct this summer’s production at FST. “Normally when you act in a play, you know exactly what your trajectory is going to be. But when you act in Shear Madness you don’t know whether you’re gonna be guilty that night or innocent, what questions people might ask you or what relationships they might bring up. It’s such a fun thing to perform because it’s constantly changing.”

Florida Studio Theatre, 1241 North Palm Avenue, Sarasota. 941-366-9000.

Pictured: Shear Madness 6: (Pictured – Left to Right): Jordan Ahnquist (Tony Whitcomb), Lisa McMillan (Mrs. Shubert), Shaun Memmel (Mikey Thomas) . Photo by John Jones..

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