Reefer Madness is best described as a cult musical, according to director Stephen Wheat.
“It started from a propaganda movie in the 1930s and it was written about the dangers of marijuana on children … and to watch it now, in the modern age, it’s hilarious. They couldn’t have gotten it more wrong!” laughed Wheat.
Like The Rocky Horror Show, another cult musical, Reefer Madness has a narrator that leads the story.
“We have a young boy, Jimmy, who gets corrupted by taking marijuana … when he does partake in marijuana, the story takes some very interesting turns that are a little off the wall. That’s basically what it’s about,” said Wheat, adding, “The message of the story, really, is how ridiculous propaganda was back then and is now.”
“In the late 80s/early 90s, two composers got together and decided this 1930s propaganda movie would make a fantastic musical,” commented Wheat.
In 2005, a movie version was released starring Alan Cumming and Kristen Bell. Wheat has never seen the musical performed live, but has watched the movie version. However, he points out that they are definitely putting their own take on this production.
“The good thing about the libretto is, the writer and composer have actually encouraged you to do your own thing, which I think is really great. They encourage you to take creative licence,” said Wheat.
Over 200 hundred people applied for the musical, which enabled the creative team to assemble a fantastic cast.
“We cast people who are funny, but also great improvisers,” Wheat explained.
During the rehearsal period, the cast were invited to offer their own ideas. If the majority laughed, it was added to the show.
Stephen Wheat said Reefer Madness will appeal to anyone who enjoys irreverent comedy like Book of Mormon or Avenue Q. He said it will also appeal to people who like musicals that make fun of musicals and kitsch comedy. While he wouldn’t recommend bringing a five year old, he does feel the show is suitable for teenagers and up.
He also suggests not bringing your easily offended and conservative grandma.
Naughty grandmas, however, will love it!
Reefer Madness opens at Chapel Off Chapel on Friday 25th November.
Reefer Madness will be directed by Stephen Wheat (Avenue Q, Pippin) with Musical Direction by David Wisken (CROSSxROADS, Avenue Q) and Choreography by Yvette Lee (In The Heights, Moonshadow). The musical will be produced by RL Productions (CROSSxROADS, DOUBT: A Parable).
Cast: James Cutler, Jared Bryan, Rosa McCarty, Ben Adams, Grace O’Donnell Clancy, Phoebe Coupe, Stephen McDowell, Priscilla Stavrou, Ed Deganos, Samantha Bruzzese, Seth Drury, Ashlee Noble, Daniel Ridolfi, Tess Branchflower & Alex Thompson.
25 November-4 December
Time: 7.30pm Tues-Sat, 2pm 25-26 Nov & 3 Dec, 6pm Sundays
Tickets: $49 Full, $45 Concession, $42 Group 8+ (+transaction fee)
Preview Performance: 2pm Friday 24 November all tickets $45
Duration: 140 minutes (Including 20 minute interval)