Friday, February 20, 2015
DEMON WEED IN COLORADO SPRINGS!
WARNING:Reefer Madness the Musical, now playing at the Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs, will get you high, baby. Can you dig it? High on life. High on great music, exciting choreography, brilliant design. High on watching amazing performers deliver with aplomb a fantastic, inventive show based on a hilariously out of whack cautionary movie from 1936 about the evils of the devil weed. Put simply, it will freak you out in the best way possible- and that ain't no jive.
The musical is presented as a mockumentary of sorts, complete with overly earnest narrator, or Lecturer, speaking directly to the audience about the terrible "facts" of marijuana and how the stuff is destroying the youth of America. The Lecturer tells us the infamous story of Jimmy Harper and Mary Lane, who of course have their lives turned upside down, irrevocably ruined, by the demon weed. When we meet Jimmy and Mary- played to perfection by Andrew Wilkes and Chelsea Ringer- they are your typical suburban couple from the 1930's. Or rather, what was thought to be your ideal young white couple of that time. Jimmy and Mary are happy, peppy, and bursting with love- until Jimmy meets the evil Jack, who introduces him to the dreaded reefer. Soon enough, Jimmy is getting high, partaking in orgies, and hanging out with his fellow degenerates at Jack's place. Things go further South from there. The plot itself is hilarious, and I don't want to give too much away- suffice to say that things don't turn out so well for Jimmy and Mary. Along their tragic path, we meet Mae, the weed addict with a heart of gold and a voice like an angel's. Caren Tackett plays Mae, and she is flat out stunning- her comic timing is impeccable, and her singing sends chills of ecstasy down your spine. We also meet the demented Ralph, another weed-fiend played by a very funny Kevin Pierce. The sexpot at the den of iniquity is Sally, a sassy Rebecca Myers who lights up the stage every moment she's on it. We also get two numbers featuring the Son of Man Himself, Jesus. Jesus, and the evil Jack, are both played by Kenton Fridley- and let me tell you, this guy is the real deal. I really don't know how they can find so many talented people at the FAC, but somehow, they do. Every last member of the cast is excellent- Becca Vervoulas as the girl who brings out various placards with messages about how marijuana can make you do bad things like cannibalize your friends, and the ensemble of Alex Campbell, Nathan Ferrick, Sammy Gleason, and Omid Dastan Harrison are all perfect- they dance and sing and play a variety of outrageous characters with a glee that is infections and as addictive as the demon weed itself. And special mention must be given to Max Ferguson, who plays the Lecturer, who leads this madcap cast of lunatics with style and energy. Seriously, this cast is one of the best ensembles I have ever seen.
The choreography and direction by Nathan Halvorson is outstanding- moving at a break-neck pace, full of surprises and inventiveness and a sort of giddiness that makes you happy to be alive. The set, by Kevin Loeffler, is beautiful and just twisted enough to make you know that the world the show is presenting is a bit off-kilter. The costumes are stellar- giving us everything from your typical teenagers at the Five-and-Dime dancing a jitterbug, to hallucinatory reefer-zombies, a randy Devil, the aforementioned Jesus with a cadre of back-up angels, and semi-nude participants in the outrageous orgy scene. Perfectly matching the set and costumes in tone are the colorful lights by designer Jonathan Spencer. And the band, led by Ian Ferguson, is top notch. Every element of this show is perfect.
So, if you like smart, exciting, ground-breaking theatre that keeps you leaning forward, laughing and clapping, Reefer Madness at the FAC in Colorado Springs is the show for you. Once again, Scott Levy has put together the best theatre in the state, as is his habit.
And, if you can get a ticket to the March 1 show, you can meet the show's composer Dan Studney!
Want to see and hear more about the show? Click HERE for a short video!
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