‘Reefer Madness’ opens at Breckenridge Theatre
Vail CO, Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado ” Don’t be surprised if you walk out of the latest Backstage Theatre’s production with a bad case of the munchies.
“Reefer Madness,” which opened in Breckenridge on Friday night, portrays a 1930s anti-marijauna propaganda film, but its satirical staging sends a different message.
“It’s over the top … by the end you still have probably the most pro-marijauna message you could have in an anti-marijuana show,” said Dustin Murphy, who plays the all-American boy Jimmy Harper. “There’s lots of layers, and little pothead jokes.”
Jimmy and Mary Lane (Megan Malsam) begin the show as two lovebirds with a perfect future ahead of them. But soon Jimmy is in need of dance lessons to keep up with his girl, which leads him to Jack (Nick Henderson) ” the slick reefer dealer.
At the 420 den, Jimmy meets Sally (Murphy Funkhouser), who’s been “in more laps than a napkin,” and Ralph (Charlie Schmidt) who is consistently laughing hysterically. He also meets Nick’s girlfriend Mae (Lori Hansen), reduced to a doormat by her addiction.
Soon Jimmy is stealing furs from his mother and attacking a kitten with a chainsaw, while Mary pines for him alone at church. Through musical numbers including a live band and several chorus members, which count the cast at 14, the audience watches Jimmy’s journey into the underworld of weed.
Choreographer Kelly Monahon described her part as challenging. “Each (number) had a different feel completely,” she said. She worked with dances portraying people going mad with reefer, an orgy, and even an appearance by Jesus and his angels coming to Jimmy to plead, “Don’t give up on God.”
Musical director Gail Smith agreed, noting that the story is constantly switching from light-hearted to dramatic. She described the music as mostly rock n’ roll with some select elements of the 1930s time period included in scenes.
“It’s amazing how the writers were able to come up with such diverse quality and layering of sounds in the show,” Smith said. “From gospels to ballads, it’s pretty unique. And the lyrics are outrageously funny.”
Artistic director Chris Willard plays the dual-role of director of the show, and the lecturer, who narrates the action. The lively chorus includes Melanie Ball, Lori Burke, Susan Harrison, Kevin Harvey, Jeremy LeFevre, Michelle Marzo and Bryana Mitchell.
“Reefer Madness” opens tonight at the Breckenridge Theatre and will play through April 27.
Leslie Brefeld can be reached at (970) 668-4626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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