It’s rare when the words “satire,” “spoof” and “parody” all can apply to one piece of work. They all mean something slightly different but have some commonalities and aren’t always used interchangeably.
The musical parody “Reefer Madness” is one such show. It’s a satirical retelling of the 1930s propaganda film of the same name that tried its damnedest to stop people from smoking marijuana. The funny thing is, the original movie was made by a church group and was first called “Tell Your Children” but the overacting made people want to see it. And see it while smoking reefer. So it was retitled “Reefer Madness” and a cult film was born. Unintentionally, this movie was better viewed with a group of friends who all were stoned.
Fast forward to 1998 and “Reefer” is now a musical, embracing its over-the-top “warnings” to get the young not to smoke this “stuff”.
The Ray of Light Theatre is continuing in their edgy productions and have mounted this musical to great success, which plays at the Victoria Theatre through Oct. 7.
The story starts off with young naive lovers Jimmy (the wonderful Phil Wong) and Mary (the amazing Brigitte Losey) who are so innocent and uneducated that they don’t even know how the story ends for “Romeo & Juliet.” As droll lecturer (show’s narrator) Leah Shesky tells us, Jimmy and Mary’s lives are about to be turned upside when they are talked into trying “the stuff.”
Dark and comedic situations and songs en sue as the two are engulfed in a seedy underworld of drugs and sex. With its laughable story line, the musical makes the insipid dialog and overacting the heart of the show.
“Reefer Madness” is quite the spoof – with never ending fun songs by Dan Studney and Kevin Murphy. This local production also elevates the material. Our leads are adorable and both show their Jekyll and Hyde sides as they go deeper into the darkness caused by the drugs.
The choreography by Alex Rodriguez is award worthy as he utilizes the full stage and every actor. The performances are also universally wonderful. Besides our leads and the lecturer, standout moments come from Mary Kalita as the placard woman, a beautiful rendering of the song “The Stuff” by Ashley Garlick and a laugh out loud musical moment with Matt Hammons doing a hybrid Elvis and Jesus (should we call him Jesus Presley or Elvis Christ?)
From start to finish, this is a winning evening and continues to proof there is a LOT of great talent in the Bay Area.
Get tickets and information at www.rayoflighttheatre.com.