Reefer Madness

With relaxed marijuana laws being considered (and in some cases passed) across the country, the predictable political debating has been reignited around the long outlawed plant. Reform opponents, however, should probably avoid going to the rhetorical extremes of the infamous 1936 propaganda film Reefer Madness. Pitching their film as a dire warning against the grave dangers of marijuana use, the cagey producers depicted the subject with exploitative verve, reveling in the lurid horrors that await those who succumb to even a single puff of the "devil weed." Rediscovered in the 1970s, the film has been an ironic cult classic ever since, inspiring giggles from audiences dubious of marijuana transforming users into sex-crazed, suicidal sociopaths. The uproarious absurdity was heightened by lyricist Kevin Murphy and composer Dan Studney, the team responsible for adapting the film into an absolutely unhinged musical that combines a satiric narrative with ridiculously hallucinogenic numbers (such as "Listen to Jesus, Jimmy") to skewer drug hysteria. This local production from Minneapolis Musical Theatre further underscores the group's demonstrated affinity for irreverence, especially with artistic director Steven Meerdink at the helm. Yes, with this group guiding the storyline, all-American protagonists Jimmy Harper and Mary Lane are guaranteed a rough ride through the nightmarish world of marijuana addiction. Even so, the characters' druggy dissolution can't help but feel like a ridiculously satiric nod to reform. (Photo by Laurie Etchen)
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Starts: Feb. 1. Continues through Feb. 24, 2013

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