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August 30, 2002 - Image 77

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-08-30

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Hilarious Whodunit

"Shear Madness" returns to Detroit's Gem Theatre.

Special to the Jewish News


staged an updated version
in Boston in 1980, and
audiences there have been
attending ever since.

National Council of Jewish Women and
a Reform temple while her children were
young, does a lot of traveling with the
show and has limited her other activities.
"My family has become my hobby,"
sayS this grandmother. "When I can, I
go to the theater, concerts and ballet.
We're grateful that Shear Madness has
been supported by the Jewish commu-
nity — individual ticket buyers, youth
groups and synagogue associations.
"I've seen the play performed at the
Gem, and we're thrilled to be back in
Detroit. It's wonderful to have a suc-
cessful run and return. The people
who loved it before will see new things
and hopefully bring their friends."

sraelis know Marilyn Abrams'
interactive production as Rosh
Meshugah, but Americans have
Global Madness'
seen the whodunit over the past
22 years as Shear Madness.
Besides making The
Guinness Book of World
The play, America's longest-running
non-musical comedy, changes with every Records because of the
Boston run, the two have
performance as actors invent new cir-
Shear Madness will be performed
moved the show into
cumstances. The idea is to deepen the
in an open-ended run 8 p.m.
cities as diverse as Athens,
puzzle for each audience solving a mur-
Wednesdays-Fridays, 2 p.m.
Budapest and
Thursdays (limited), 6 and 9
Johannesburg. Whenever
The constant at the core of the ever-
p.m. Saturdays and 2 and 6 p.m.
John McGivern, Paula Flanagan and Peter Siragusa
a new foreign troupe is
changing plot is the death of concert
Sundays, beginning Wednesday,
are part of the cutting-edge cast of "Shear Madness."
about to launch a produc-
pianist Isabel Czerny. The victim's apart-
Sept. 4, at the Gem Theatre, 333
tion, adapters must spend
ment is above a unisex beauty shop, and
Madison Ave., Detroit. $24.50-
Madness, Bruce became responsible for
suspects emerge with the intro-
a week in the United States
$34.50 with half-price preview
the direction of all the companies, and
duction of staff and patrons.
observing a seasoned company.
tickets for the first two perform-
I took care of the marketing. The play
Shear Madness, which made its
"Becoming the longest-run-
ance weeks. (313) 963-9800.
turned out to be a full-time job."
first appearance at Detroit's Gem
ning play in American theater
Abrams, who was active in the
was never on our dream scope,
Theatre in 1995, stayed for nine
months because of ticket
but it happened," says Abrams,
demand. The play returns to the
who has received the Mystery
Gem for another open-ended run
Writers of America Raven
starting Sept. 4.
Award and the National
"8-Track: The Sounds of the 70s" opens
"This play is always timely
Comedy Hall of Fame's
because it takes place on the day
Charlie Chaplin Comedy
at Detroit's Century Theatre.
and in the city where it is per-
Award. "We kept honing it and
formed," says Abrams, who
finding things that were funny.
zir den Reddy, an icon of the 1970s with her hit recordings "I Am
acquired the world rights to the
"It played for five years in a
Woman" and You and Me Against the World," is among the many
show in 1979 with fellow actor-director- repertory theater in Tel Aviv and then
performers saluted in 8-Track; The Sounds of the 70s, a musical opening
all over Israel. I visited there, and it
producer Bruce Jordan.
Sept. 5 at Detroit's Century Theatre.
was thrilling to see. The repertory
"Whatever happened that day —
Featuring 50 of the most popular songs of the decade, 8-Track weaves the
whether in Detroit or as a world event
company stopped playing it in Tel
numbers into themes of the times, creating a nostalgic look back.
Aviv only because they had done it
— enters the play if we can find some
Besides the hits of Jewish entertainers Billy Joel and Barry Manilow, the
humor in it. We put clues in, and we
longer than any other play, and that
show features numbers by the Bee Gees, Marvin Gaye, the Carpenters, the
went against what the theater was
take clues out. It's always improvised,
Doobie Brothers, K.C. & the Sunshine Band, Elton John, Aretha. Franklin
meant to be."
and there's always a new laugh. I've been
and many others.
Abrams' theatrical career was
in the play myself 2,000 times and seen
"I am really not a songwriter although I wrote the lyrics to "I Am Woman,
it 4,000 times."
launched at a Jewish day camp in
Reddy told the Jewish News during a recent interview "I've always been more
Shear Madness, originally tided
Pennsylvania, where she was visiting her
of an interpreter than a writer, but life, certainly the era I grew up in put me
Scherenschnitt, was written by Swiss play- grandmother. Her singing prompted the
in a frame of mind to write that."
writing of a show with her at the center,
wright Paul Portner in 1963, when he
Reddy, who converted to Judaism
wanted to gauge different perceptions of and the whole town bought tickets.
for her second marriage, learned years
8-Track begins an open-ended
the same crime. Abrams and Jordan,
Although she majored in English at
later that the conversion wasn't neces-
Sept. 5 at the Century
who anticipated the interactive trend,
sary. Her grandmother had been
Theatre, 333 Madison, Detroit.
teacher, Abrams found work with a
transformed the serious mystery into a
Jewish but kept her religion a secret.
Performances are 7:30 p.m.
light opera company in Albany, N.Y.,
comedy as they connected with theater-.
8-Track, a high-energy flashback,
and Thursdays,
where she raised four children with
goers and watched their reactions.
premiered at the Milwaukee Rep last
Jordan, who had worked with Abrams her husband, Robert, a plastics manu-
September. It stars Teddey Brown,
in summer stock, spotted the play and
Tonya Phillips, Nik Rocklin and Liana
"When my youngest child went to
first thought of it as offering great parts
Young. Rick Seeber, conceiver-director,
school, I commuted in and out of New
for both of them — he as the salon
also directed the Gem Theatre's 1994-
$34.50, with half price preview
York City and did summer stock in Lake
owner and she as the manicurist.
95 production of Beehive.
tickets for first two performance
George," Abrams recalls. "I did a lot of
Opening to mixed reviews in Lake
— Suzanne Chessler
weeks. (313) 963-9800.
television, film and commercial work.
George, N.Y., the two decided to
"After I got involved with Shear
shorten and sharpen the show. They

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