Smoking Up a Storm: SMuTCo presents Reefer Madness

Tory Glerum

Whether or not the weather decides to take on some semblance of spring this upcoming weekend, those who make their way to the Parker Commons will certainly be able to lift their spirits by indulging in acting, comedy, music and, well, reefers. No need for Campus Safety to break this party up, though; the joints are filled with herbs and everything is just for show. Yet, thanks to the magical talent of Student Musical Theater, viewers might just find themselves under the influence of Colgate’s own production of Reefer Madness.

Based off of the book by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney and the play directed by Andy Fickman, Reefer Madness is being put on by the Student Musical Theater contingent of Masque and Triangle, or the Colgate University Dramatic Society. It will be held at the Parker Commons at 8 p.m. Thursday April 12 through Saturday April 14 and is free of charge.

According to first-year Lindsey Simpson, a lead actor in the upcoming performance, Reefer Madness is a play within a play. A farce based off of the 1930’s PSA about marijuana, the theme of the show is a high school PTA meeting where a lecturer, who will be played by first-year Sam Daly, is talking to parents about the dangers of the drug. He has hired a group of students to put on a demonstration where the male character of Jimmy, or first-year Lucas Myerson, is “taken over” by the reefer.

Simpson will be playing Jimmy’s girlfriend, Mary Lane. Other key characters in the “Reefer Den” include Jack, Mae, Sally, and Ralph, played by first-years Pete Larson, Tessa Drake and Laura McDonald, along with senior Mike Chateauneuf.

Sophomore Jon Riedel, the play’s musical director, said that the characters in the demonstration are supposed to be portraying bad student actors. “They are over the top, hammed-up and ridiculous,” he said.

Riedel said that the character of the lecturer narrates the play, but also gets in on the demonstration himself and plays a number of different roles. “There is an orgy scene and one in which a man gets hit by a car,” he said. “In the suit the narrator is a lecturer, but in the other costumes he is one of the characters.”

According to Riedel, the over-dramatization of the characters adds to the humor of play, and that unlike other musical comedies Colgate has put on, Reefer Madness is really a complete farce. “There are hardly any serious parts,” he said.

Under the direction of first-year Rachel Wassel, Reefer Madness is entirely student-designed and student-run. Those involved in the performance have been rehearsing since the end of January. Simpson said that the cast is relatively small and is assisted by a minimal stage crew, stage managers, lighting designers and a five to six piece orchestra including piano, guitar, bass, drums and saxophone. “The music is very upbeat,” Simpson said. “It has a 1950’s pop rock tempo.”

First-year Sarah Tilley, one of three stage managers, has had the job of making sure rehearsals run correctly. “We came to rehearsals with the script and gave people lines if they needed them,” she said. The manager’s duties will continue during the performance with two remaining backstage and one working at the soundboard.

According to Simpson, who acted last semester in Man of La Mancha, most of the cast has a background in performance. “It’s a great cast,” she said. “Everybody is really talented.”

Tilley agreed with Simpson. “Having a talented cast is very nice,” she said. “Three out of four of the boys are in the [Colgate] Thirteen.”

The cast’s training and preparation has included dancing, learning music and blocking scenes. “It has been a great experience, but a very challenging process,” Simpson said. “It was really a compilation of everybody’s efforts.”

Simpson, however, is very happy with how Reefer Madness finally came together. “It is a very funny and interesting perspective on the drug craze and what was happening at the time,” Simpson said. “There is great music and acting, and people will really enjoy it if they come.”

Riedel agreed with Simpson. “It’s so over-the-top and ridiculous that it’s fun,” he said. “And don’t be scared away because it’s a musical. The acting is really good-the music is just a bonus.”