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The Muse Theatre | 1353 Avon St., La Crosse
By Jonathan Majak
Sunday, June 30, 2013 12:11 PM
Before Harold and Kumar went to White Castle, before folks were half-baked and before even Cheech met Chong, there was “Reefer Madness,” a gloriously histrionic warning against the evils of marijuana that quickly became a cult classic. In 1998, the film was turned into a satirical musical of the same name, giving new life to the exploits of All-American Jimmy and his lady love Mary as they succumb to the temptation of the demon weed.
Now Muse Theatre, befitting its campy tradition of doing shows such as “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” has mounted a winning production of the stellar musical.
“Reefer Madness: The Musical” tells a story as old as time: boy (Jimmy, as played by Matthew Lucas) loves girl (Mary Lane, as hilariously played by Kendall Yorkey), boy gets introduced to pot by fast-talking dealer (Donnie Mezera as Jack), boy becomes a stark raving addict while doing high energy musical numbers. Throw in a few appearances by Jesus and Satan, a murder or two, and a fairly clothed orgy and you’re practically in a Rodgers and Hammerstein production. Lucas and Yorkey make not only a believable couple but also have the right amount of tongue-in-cheek acting to nail the golly-gee-ness of their innocent characters while also making their eventual transformations into heathens equally believable.
Under the direction of Lucas, the production moves at a fairly zippy pace as it details Jimmy’s descent into the sordid world of blunts, brownies and babes that can all be found at the Reefer Den run by Jack and his gal Mae, played by Emily Vieth. The place is filled with weed fiends played by Alex Fischer, Margaret Teshner, and Matthew Springer. Springer, in particular, is a delight as a doped-up college dropout hooked on weed who laughs maniacally. It’s a scene-stealing performance through and through, particularly as Springer juggles playing a variety of roles within the show.
All the crazy shenanigans happen under the watchful eye of The Lecturer, played by Barry Montee, who manages to strike just the right fine line between serious and parody with help of Megan Rose Loeffler who, with the rest of the cast, hilariously gives warnings about the dangers of marijuana by way of placards as they walk across the stage.
The production overall is fun and filled with its own unique campy charms even though some of the campiness softens some of the wonderfully dark edges found throughout the show. More than anything else, the show is a fun, raucous experience for both the cast and audience alike and is the kind of show you probably wouldn’t see anywhere in this town except The Muse Theatre.
Particular standout numbers are the group number “Listen to Jesus, Jimmy,” “Mary Lane/Mary Jane,” and “The Stuff” but the entire musical is pretty much a delight.
So be sure to check out “Reefer Madness” at The Muse Theatre. It’ll leave you with a contact high.
“Reefer Madness” at the Muse Theatre runs until July 6. For more information and to purchase tickets, call 608-391-3752.
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