Monday, November 08, 2010

Reefer Madness is Smokin'

Pictured: Greg Horton and the cast of The Gallery Players’ production of Reefer Madness. Photo by Bella Muccari.
Though there is no actual pot being smoked onstage, you may leave Reefer Madness with a contact high. Hilariously staged by Dev Bondarin, extremely well acted, and at the bargain price of $18 a ticket, I defy anyone to leave The Gallery Players's production without smiling.

Reefer Madness, based on the 1938 propaganda film against marijuana, was turned into a musical by Kevin Murphy (book, lyrics) and Dan Studney (book, music) in 1998. The show originated in Los Angeles and ran off-Broadway in 2001.

The musical begins with the Lecturer (Greg Horton, with more than a passing resemblance to Jon Lovitz, but funnier and with a powerful voice) warning of reefer and leading the catchy opening number "Reefer Madness." He proceeds to tell the tale of Jimmy Harper (Jason Edward Cook), who just wants to learn to dance to impress his girlfriend Mary Lane (Rebecca Dealy), but gets sucked into the dangerous world of reefer.

The animated Cook is perfectly cast as the square-turned-reefer fiend and Dealy is just as suited to the role of his innocent lover. One of the highlights of the evening is their adorable duet "Romeo & Juliet," in which they speculate about the happy futures that await the characters in Shakespeare's play. The cast is supported by strong dance work from the hard-working ensemble.

With the legalization of marijuana in the news, this is a timely moment for a revival of Reefer Madness, but it's also escapist fun, and who doesn't need that?

Pictured (l to r): Jason Edward Cook, Michele Scully, and Zak Risinger in The Gallery Players’ production of Reefer Madness. Photo by Bella Muccari.


Pam said...

I loved the movie version, in part because Alan Cumming played the lecturer.

Linda said...

I never saw it, but it was mentioned in the program notes and I already requested it from the library.