The highly risque and outrageously hilarious satire, “Reefer Madness” hit the McKinney as the annual student spring musical.
Cast members were blessed to have potentially their biggest critics in the audience Saturday evening. Catching wind of Saddleback’s rendition was “Reefers” writer and composer, Dan Studney, bringing with him Christian Campbell and John Kassis, who originated the roles of Jimmy and Ralph respectively. The trio stuck around after the show to sign autographs, take pictures, and talk about their experiences with “Reefer,” which was crafted after a 1930s propaganda film originally titled “Tell Your Children.”
Set inside a high school auditorium, the Principal gathers the parents for an assembly to warn about the “leafy green assassin” that is turning their children “into hooligans and whores.”
Marijuana is federally classified in the same category as ecstasy, LSD, and heroine, and some of the language used to describe the effects of marijuana are paraphrases or excerpts from actual government reports.
“This show really speaks to a bigger level than just the marijuana question,” Studney said. ” It is really warning about the government guy who is standing behind a podium, drags out Jesus and the flag and says ‘listen to me, I’ll tell you what to think.’ They make you think your child is in danger. They use the fear mongering tactic.”
The hard questions Reefer Madness presents are seemlessly blended into very comical moments. Typical do-gooder Jimmy, played by Ari Wilford, finds his life in shambles after becoming addicted to “the stuff.” Killing poor old men, getting raped and not caring, and selling a baby for drug money are just some of the mischief that Jimmy and his new friends find themselves addicted to.
“[Wilford] had a great arc,” Campbell said. “[He] did a great job getting that desperation. We were all very impressed with [his] work.” The entire cast is riddled with talent. In a musically challenging show (admitted by the writer himself) all the characters not only are believable, but sing a wide range of difficult music throughout the show.
A very dangerous form of comedy, this satire is very sexual and has many scandalous scenes, including Jesus coming to gloat that Jimmy is dying for not heeding his word, and an onstage orgy with a goatman resembling theDevil.
“The naked guys onstage were great with their marijuana outfits,” said Ashley Lennon, 21, business administration. “I’ve never been to a play like this. It even smells like real weed. In high school things are always reserved. They can’t do things like this.”
The production staff clearly worked hard to showcase the sublimity of brainwashing. Instructor and set designer Kent McFann crafted a beautiful though minimal set, and with the phenomenal lighting by Tim Swiss, they were able to portray a very eerie and psychedelic atmosphere.
“This set was better than our off-Broadway production in New York,” Campbell said. “You can really see the central theme of the show with the multimedia.”
Reefer Madness runs through Mar. 9, corrupting a child near you.
ONE HIT WONDER
LET’S BE BLUNT