“Reefer Madness, The Musical” would never be mistaken for “The Sound of Music,” or “You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” or “Steel Magnolias,” and especially not “Green Grow the Lilacs.”
By Tom Valentine
For the News Tribune
“Reefer Madness, The Musical” would never be mistaken for “The Sound of Music,” or “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” or “Steel Magnolias,” and especially not “Green Grow the Lilacs.”
Instead, it is based on the 1936 propaganda film that cautioned parents about the evils and dangers of smoking pot. The movie became a “Rocky Horror” type midnight movie favorite among the cool kids and in crowd 50 years later.
Currently playing at The Cumberland Theatre, the live stage show has the same over-the-top characters, exaggerated plot devices, and campy feel as the movie. From the lurid green and red lights that bathe the stage, to the uncontrollable gyrations and laughter of the characters, the audience can’t help but giggle and enjoy the ride.
The silly spoof shows how the leafy green assassin turns a good egg to a bad apple. Tai Bauman is perfectly cast as Jimmy, the good guy, church going, boy scout, boy-next-door type who takes a toke of the evil weed and begins a downward spiral.
In fact, all of the participants end up as low life degenerates - murderers, rapists, bad mothers, and worst of all - communists. Mary Jane even turns the sweet and innocent girl-next-door Mary Lane into a raging sex pot. Alexis Krey as Mary controls the stage with her girlish demeanor until she unleashes her sultry self after consuming the wacky weed.
Both Bauman and Krey pair up beautifully with their duets and shared moments throughout the show, from “Romeo and Juliet,” “MaryJane/Mary Lane,” to “Mary’s Death and Murder” (hope I didn’t ruin it for you…but you know what happens when you smoke that stuff).
Erik Alexis does an excellent job as both narrator and lecturer telling the tale of woe. He also pops up in many other roles throughout the show. Krissy Johnson is appropriately melodramatic as Mae and shows off her stuff with “The Stuff.” Tim Fitzsimmons is a masterful villain as Jack, the Pusher man. Kimberli Rowley is a sexy Sally, Rhett Wolford a stoned stoner, and strutting across the stage cueing in the audience is MacKenzie Cutcliffe.
It would be easy to push this off as a piece of fluff. However, director Kimberli Rowley has retained all of the elements of good musical theatre in this production. There are large chorus numbers, show stopping dance routines, and the songs themselves are intricate music with difficult rhythms and syncopation.
It is somewhat ironic that after the mass hysteria promoted by the movie for using marijuana, there are now 33 states that have legalized medical cannabis and 10 that have approved recreational use. When the federal government finally wises up and sees it as the cash cow crop that it is, tax revenues into our treasury will be soaring.
“Reefer Madness, the Musical” will continue at The Cumberland Theatre with Thursday, Friday, and Saturday shows at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. There will be no performance on April 21, but two shows on April 20 at 2 and 8 p.m.
Reservations are available by calling 301-759-4990 or at their website www.cumberlandtheatre.com