Reefer Madness: The Musical opened this past weekend to big, enthusiastic crowds! They came ready to laugh and left still doing so! The cast and crew were on their game and gave to very solid performances! Way to start of the run, guys!! We’ve already gotten a great review from the Sun Gazette! Check it out!
Solid Casting, Pacing Propel ‘Reefer’ to Success
by Matt Reville, Staff Writer
If you’re an aficionado of “Urinetown” – that perky, bubbly, slightly bawdy Off-Broadway musical that has wheedled its way into public consciousness all the way down to high school productions – you’re probably going to enjoy “Reefer Madness: The Musical,” a show in much the same vein.
While the former is a creative home run, the latter is more a line-drive double: solid, but not without its flaws. Yet in the hands of Dominion Stage, which opened a production this past weekend as part of its 60th-anniversary celebration, “Reefer” is capably held together by clever staging, brisk pacing and solid casting.
It’s send-up of a 1936 motion picture, now something of a campy classic, warning of the dangers of that “leafy green assassin of youth” that would lead to the moral turpitude of America’s youth. In that morality tale’s estimation, even the commies are not as big a national scourge, apparently.
The plot follows the descent of all-American high school boy Jimmy, who inadvertently gets sucked into a den of iniquity and sees his world collapse around him. His descent is played out through musical numbers that, if at times repetitive, are toe-tappingly engaging.
Dominion’s effort benefits from the casting of Joel Piper as Jimmy and Jaclyn Young as his straight-laced girlfriend, Mary Lane. Both are charmers, and Young in particular has a singing voice and personality well-suited to her part.
Michael Reid is effective as Jack, the pot-pusher who lures teens to the home of Mae (well-done by Amy Baska), whose conscience is conflicted about the entire situation. Good-time gal Sally (Cassandra Hodziewich) does her part to help out Jack, while one-time college guy Ralph (Sam Nystrom) has fallen into maniacal, smoke-infused zombie status through his addiction.
The story is held together by the Lecturer (Tom Flatt), always on hand to warn parents, and others who will listen, of the dangers ahead.
(Jesus and Franklin Roosevelt also make appearances, along with the ensemble of singers and dancers.)
The plot is more substantive than one might suspect for any musical, let alone a send-up. And the show does get more rollicking as it goes along, as those plot lines begin to unfold. Director Matthew Randall keeps the pacing of the two-hour show moving, while music director John-Michael d’Haviland is at the helm of a small but quite effective orchestra.
The entire staging of the show was quite strong, showcasing a resurgent Dominion creative team.
End result? Everybody, including the audience, seemed to be having a good time, even though the auditorium was a decidedly non-smoking venue.
“Reefer Madness: The Musical” runs through Jan. 30 at Gunston Arts Center, 2700 South Lang St. Performances are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Jan. 24.
For tickets and information, call (703) 638-0502 or see the Web site at www.dominionstage.org.