Jimmy Harper and Mary Lane are in high school and in love and in danger of falling under the thrall of a deadly green menace called Reefer Madness.
Writers Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney have taken inspiration from a short film, made in the 1930s as a warning to parents about the dangers of cannabis use. The musical is a satire on small town American values. Jim and Mary are good kids, their lives soon affected by the drug sweeping their town.
The premise is thin, but for a high concept musical, it nails its targets as pointedly as Jesus was nailed to his cross. Jesus himself is a character in the show; he appears to sing to Jimmy, warning him that his life is going off-the-rails.
Director Stephen Wheat has pulled together some amazing talents, both on and off stage for a raucous night at the theatre. It’s not the sort of show where you chortle; its songs induce belly laughs. But beyond amusing songs about getting stoned, there’s the recurring riff on teenagers who think Romeo and Juliet is romantic – because they haven’t gotten to the end yet.
James Culter’s Lecturer sets the scene, sermonising from behind a lectern in the school hall. His versatility is to be admired, as he plays an array of characters throughout. Ben Adams brings Jimmy to life as an excitable doofus; his rubbery face and loose movements bringing much physical humour to this lead role.
Rosa McCarty’s Mae steals the show every time she is on stage; strutting and singing and making the most of the spotlight. A truly exciting performance.
Reefer Madness closed last weekend, but if the show ever finds its way to your town, go on, take a hit. It’s worth it.