Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical
While driving from Oakland to Los Angeles, the two writers, Dan Studney and Kevin Murphy came up with the idea turning the 1930’s anti-marijuana propaganda film into a musical satire. By the time they got to L.A., they had already written the first song. Originally opened in a small theatre in Los Angeles, the production gainly popularity and was brought to New York. The bad news is that the New York production opened just 4 days after 9/11. The good news is that an executive from Showtime saw it and ended up offering Dan & Kevin to turn the musical into a feature film.
REEFER MADNESS tells the tale of two wholesome teenagers Mary Lane’s & Jimmy Harper’s descent into the world of reefer. With As Jimmy begins to court Mary, Jimmy gets duped into trying marijuana. From there, Jimmy, meets a group character that welcome into this new world. After awhile Mary goes looking for the source of Jimmy’s change. All this taking place in an early 1950’s clean-cut community, with comedic songs reminiscent of 1986’s LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS.
Surprisingly cast by most of the original L.A. & N.Y. casts, the movie is packed with talent. Leading the pack is the lecturer tells the story, played by the very talented Alan Cumming. The upright & honest Jimmy Harper is played by Christian Campbell, who originated the role. Kristen Bell of the New York cast & UPN’s VERONICA MARS, plays the virtuous Mary Lane. Supported by other actors like, Ana Gasteyer (SNL, ’96-’02), John Kassir (another member of the original casts), Steve Webber (mostly know for his work on WINGS), & Neve Campbell (known from PARTY OF FIVE and yes, Christian’s sister).
The music & lyrics are also a great part of this production. With songs ranging from the innocence of Jimmy & Mary, a chat with Jesus, and some great brownies, each song with fun & great to listen to. Since a good of chunk of the main cast is from the original stage production, it’s very hard to tell who, if any, had someone else sing for their character. Unfortunately, there are no plans of a soundtrack of the SHOWTIME version of the musical (which contains a few songs not in the stage versions), but fans are hopeful. Additionally, soundtrack is available by the L.A. cast at the musical’s website & Amazon.
Overall, even if you’re not into musicals, but liked Chicago, I’d strongly recommend seeing REEFER MADNESS. Unfortunately, the only way to see it right now is if you have SHOWTIME. If they’re smart they’ll release a DVD in the coming months.