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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Decades of murder and laughs at Kennedy Center

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Roxanne Goldberg.

Since “Shear Madness” first debuted at the Kennedy Center stage 24 years ago, the interactive, improvisational murder mystery and twisted comedy has entertained thousands of audiences with a mix of morbid suspense and witty satire based on current events.

Tom Wahl plays Tony, an eccentric hair dresser, and Chris Tarjan plays detective Nick Rosetti. Photo courtesy of Scott Suchman

As the curtain rises every evening, the play, which holds a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the longest-running play in American history, follows through with a similar theme but highlights different improvisations every time.

Set in present-day Georgetown, “Shear Madness” invites audience members to become detectives and help in solving the scissor-stabbing murder of a famed concert pianist who lives above the Shear Madness hair salon.

Engaging from the start, the action begins before the lights are dimmed as the audience members are still filling their seats.

In the tradition of a truly improvisational show, the cast will draw last-minute jokes from that day’s most recent events.

The play’s humor remains always up-to-date with recent punch lines about Kim Kardashian’s short-lived wedding, the rise and fall of Herman Cain, Conrad Murray’s sentencing and the Jersey Shore.

In 24 years at the Kennedy Center, the cast has seen more than 100 marriage proposals during the show, and has gone through nine barber chairs, 65 blow dryers, 142 bottles of stage blood, 357 hairbrushes, 876 cans of hairspray, 1,398 bottles of nail polish and 11,064 cans of shaving cream.

“Shear Madness” has been translated into 16 foreign languages and performed more than 55,000 times, giving nearly 10 million viewers the opportunity to play detective. It has been performed in Rome, Budapest, Lisbon and Madrid, as well as other international cities.

The show can be seen at the Kennedy Center almost every evening, with scattered weekly matinées. Tickets are $45.

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