"Shear Madness" at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse -- July 24 through September 7.

Wednesday, July 24, through Saturday, September 7

Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, 1828 Third Avenue, Rock Island IL

Described by the New York Times as “an astonishingly durable interactive murder mystery” with an “inclusive spirit of fun,” the slapstick comedy Shear Madness makes its eagerly awaited return to Rock Island's Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse July 24 through September 7, the theatre's 2016 presentation of the show inspiring the River Cities' Reader's Jeff Ashcraft to deem it “uproarious, farcical, and fabulous,” as well as “one wild and colorful ride.”

Frequently referred to as “America's longest-running play,” Shear Madness delights audiences with its unique blend of madcap improvisation and spine-tickling mystery. Paul Pörtner's comedy takes place in a hairstyling salon where landlady Isabel Czerny, who lives above the shop, is murdered. The play's audience consequently gets involved in the action by questioning the actors and attempting to solve the crime, with the suspects including a flamboyant hairdresser, his flirty and ditsy assistant, a prim and proper older lady, and an older man who calls himself a “used antique dealer.” Much of the dialogue is improvised by the actors and the humor tends to revolve around topical references to current events, with the ending of the play different every night as audience members hear clues, question the characters, and vote on who they think is guilty. Shear Madness debuted in Boston at the Charles Playhouse Stage II in January 1980, and in 1987, a second production opened at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts' Theatre Lab; the show is still playing at both venues to this very day.

Tristan Tapscott and Tom Walljasper in Shear Madness

Directing Shear Madness is longtime Circa '21 veteran Warner Crocker, whose other Rock Island productions have included Diamonds & Divas: A Murderous Fiasco, Mama Won't Fly, Southern Crossroads, and last summer's musical version of The Bridges of Madison County. And with the ensemble boasting Cory Boughton from Circa '21's production of the slapstick hit Boeing-Boeing, the other five cast members are fellow venue veterans who all appeared in the theatre's 2016 presentation of Shear Madness: Brad Hauskins (Newsies: The Musical), Jennifer Poarch (Mamma Mia!), Carrie SaLoutos (The Dixie Swim Club), Tristan Tapscott (Holiday Inn), and Tom Walljasper (Grumpy Old Men: The Musical).

In addition to its 7:45 p.m. public previews on July 24 and 25, Shear Madness runs July 26 through September 7, with performances on Fridays, Saturdays, and Wednesdays at 7:45 p.m.; Sundays at 5:45 p.m.; and Wednesday afternoons at 1:30 p.m. All shows will be preceded by meals and pre-show entertainment by the theatre's performing wait staff of Circa '21 Bootleggers, and more information and tickets are available by calling (309)786-7733 extension 2 or visiting Circa21.com.

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