ALLEGANY MAGAZINE ONLINE REVIEW CUMBERLAND THEATRE: REEFER MADNESS
Cumberland Theatre Offers High Ol ’Time
A Musical Not to be Taken Seriously... Seriously!
Over the last ... oh... 75 to 80 years, much has been written and reported and researched about the ill and good effects of marijuana. And depending on who you ask, it’s either the devil’s weed or a cure-all tonic.
Most of marijuana’s bad reputation, however, has its roots in a little piece of propaganda disguised as a 1936 film called Reefer Madness. You see, in the 1930s and 40s, the federal government realized the movies had a powerful influence over the general population. Can you imagine? The government using popular media to sway opinion? And a tiny office in Washington, D.C. actually helped produce Reefer Madness – in part to keep folks from growing marijuana in their own backyard and taking money away from the very profitable (and very taxable) tobacco market. It was even shown in high schools as a “cautionary tale.”
Because of this film, the use of marijuana started earning its bad reputation as a drug that could lead to all sorts of bizarre mind altering activity – like psychotic behavior, murder, theft, prostitution, gluttony, lust, and generally all of the deadly sins and breaking of all the Ten Commandments.
And keep in mind, at the time the federal government was waging a campaign against marijuana, Coca Cola -- a thriving company – was still putting real cocaine in every bottle.
Today, 83 years removed from this campy movie classic, we now know cannabis can actually be effective in treating arthritis, glaucoma, cancer and other ailments. Its medicinal use for adults is legal in many states – Maryland included – and Allegany County even has its own medical marijuana dispensary.
So the notion that the use of “weed” or “reefer” or “pot” or “bud” – or any of its nicknames over the years -- can cause “madness” to the brink of insanity is at best a little silly. And that is the premise behind Reefer Madness: The Musical. Yes, this play is “inspired” by the movie of the same name but unlike the film, the musical does not in any way take itself seriously. Seriously!
Presented by the Cumberland Theatre, available performances run Friday, April 12 and weekends through April 28 (yes, that intentionally includes 420, dude), Reefer Madness: The Musical is a comedic “Tour De- Farce.”
The cast of this production takes advantage of all the implied sarcasm and satire for a fun frolic through the green fields of a make believe utopia. It is-- in short-- one of the nuttiest things onstage I have ever seen.
The show has hints of Rocky Horror, a touch of Hairspray and even a dash of Disney. But this musical "ain't the Sound of Music" and is probably not for the kiddos, the close minded or the politically provoked.
The story begins calmly enough with a narrative warning and then suddenly the plot takes a wild turn into exaggerated extremes that include clothes coming off, cannibalism, FDR, and even an appearance by a Deity for whom the Easter season celebrates.
Audiences may at times experience side effects from this production that can include but are not limited to awkwardness, embarrassment, offense, and the loss of bladder control from laughing.
Under the sublime direction of Kimberli Rowley, this “tongue in cheek” (with an emphasis on cheek) musical features the acting talents of Erik Alexis, Tai Baumann, Tim Fitzsimons, Krissy Johnson, Alexis Krey, Rhett Wolford, and the aforementioned Rowley. The ensemble cast includes half a dozen brave souls who obviously have no body issues. That would be Nicole Boscarino, Morganne Chu, A.J. Jackson, Connor McCabe, Wyatt Neff, Whitney O'Haver and Leo Wollan. Music direction is by Sarah Wussow with choreography by MacKenzie Cutcliffe.
Everyone involved in this show at the Cumberland Theatre seems to be having a “high time” presenting this to their audience – especially when the audience finally realizes it's all one big joke. In fact, when the jokes do land, they’re on fire – and the joint is jumping – all puns intended. Catch this show before it goes “up in smoke.”
Just hang on, expect the unexpected, and enjoy the ride. And yes, I did pass my urine test before writing this review.
-- SHANE RIGGS Manging Editor Allegany Magazine April 11, 2019
Photos by Wolford Photography/Courtesy Cumberland Theatre
The Cumberland Theatre presents Reefer Madness: The Musical April 11- April 28, 2019. For tickets or information, visit www.cumberlandtheatre.com