The 'Stuff' was Here! Print
Friday, 21 May 2010 00:00 | Written by Lauren Giarrocco

The Drexel Players Put on Reefer Madness, a 'Hit' Musical

What do you get when you combine a squeaky-clean society, singing, dancing and marijuana? Reefer Madness, of course! The Drexel Players performed five shows over last weekend and it turned out to be a great success!

Steve Pribis (Jimmy Haper) & Emily Kleimo (Mary Lane). Phot Credit: Evan Rosen Steve Pribis (Jimmy Haper) & Emily Kleimo (Mary Lane). Phot Credit: Evan Rosen Reefer Madness is a musical satire that was inspired by the 1936 propaganda film of the same name. This hysterical take on the film parodies the U.S. government's serious warning that action must be taken before the country succumbs to the dangers of the demon weed. The audience is taken on a journey with all-American teen Jimmy Harper who is introduced to and becomes addicted to "the stuff," later realizing the error in his ways and swears to educate America's youth about the dangers of marijuana.

With show-stopping musical numbers and a bizarre yet hysterical story line, the audience was never bored.

Thursday May 13 at 7:55 p.m., Mandell Theater was a packed house for Reefer's opening night. The audience consisted of a seemingly diverse group of people. Friends and family of the actors and crew members, professors, general public, those for the legalization of marijuana and those against legalization – all people in attendance were there to support live theater and cast and crew who worked exceptionally hard for the past eight months.

The hard work was well worth it because the show turned out to be a smash hit!

Laurel Hostak (Mae) & Andrew Leib (Jack). Photo Credit: Evan Rosen Laurel Hostak (Mae) & Andrew Leib (Jack). Photo Credit: Evan Rosen The play opened with a dark stage and a spotlight on a podium stage left. The lecturer, played by Eric Mathew Colton, walked with authority and purpose to a lit podium. His opening scene began with an exaggerated preparation of cleaning his glasses and perfecting his suit before he finally cleared his throat and began his tirade about the new drug menace, "marihuana", which threatens the American way of life in particular the youth of America.

His warnings are reinforced by the Placard Girl, played by Laura Calderone, who held up large signs that clearly stated the scenes' moral lessons throughout the production.

From his podium, the Lecturer warns the audience that action must be taken immediately before America's youth succumbs to the "Reefer Madness." He illustrates his point by introducing the audience to all-American teens Jimmy Harper (Steve Pribis) and Mary Lane (Emily Kleimo), a wholesome, "Leave it to Beaver" teenage couple who are as innocent and pure as the driven snow.

The innocence depicted by Jimmy, Mary and the ensemble is threatened when the Lecturer shows us the sordid side of life at the local Reefer Den. It is here that we meet Jack (Andrew Leib) and Mae (Laurel Hostak). Jack is a drug dealer looking for young paying victims, and Mae is the Reefer Den Hostess who is abused by her drug-pusher boyfriend Jack, though she can't leave him because he provides her with her drug fix – "the stuff." Jack ventures to the local jukebox diner, the Five and Dime, for new customers and this is where our young Jimmy is consumed by his charms.

Lee Singletary  (Goatman). Photo Credit: Evan Rosen Lee Singletary (Goatman). Photo Credit: Evan Rosen Jimmy is tricked into following Jack to the Reefer Den, where he meets Sally (Kristin Tripolitis) and Ralph (Jeremy Toll). Ralph is a psychotic ex-college student who communicates mainly through uncontrollable sadistic laughter, and Sally is a whore with somewhat of a sweet, yet seductive side.

All four of the Reefer Den's inhabitants pressure young Jimmy Harper into taking a hit of marihuana. Immediately following his first hit, the stage transformed into a Sodom and Gomorrah type atmosphere with a risqué dance sequence that involves a sexual orgy, half-clothed belly dancers, and of course, Satan, also known as the Goatman (Lee Singletary). 

This over-exaggerated scene was hysterical due to the fact that this one hit of reefer was more like an acid trip with hallucinations, unexplained actions and sexual deviance. Lauren Hamerling, an audience member stated "Its weed, not heroine!" Even though this statement is so true it is also what adds to the hysterical and ridiculous factor of this satirical musical.

The audience remained in hysterics throughout the drug-addicted journey of Jimmy Harper. After his first hit, he was hooked. The few weeks following his introduction to marihuana, Jimmy cared about nothing else but reefer.

Mary Lane was not even a priority, and his religion was also pushed aside even after Jesus tried to persuade him otherwise. Through the song "Listen to Jesus Jimmy," Jesus (Joe Mathew), tried to be the conscience that Jimmy lost through his new drug-induced lifestyle. With the performance consisting of Jesus being portrayed as a lounge singer accompanied by angels on pedestals with instruments and glittering costumes, the audience was consumed with laughter.

The play continues with the criminal demise of Jimmy and the complete upheaval of society due to the effects of marihuana use on America's youth, and later, all is well when Jimmy realizes the error of his ways. The cast takes the audience on an entertaining journey through song, dance and humor.

The performances were flawless, accompanied by a simple yet successful set design and exquisite costumes. Pribis did a fabulous job transforming from the squeaky clean teenage boy to the drug-addicted delinquent. Kleimo had an excellent stage presence as the innocent Mary Lane with her sweet yet powerful voice.

The performances by all of the actors were simply amazing, and the audience was able to leave the theater with a new view on the "Reefer Madness" in America today.

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 October 2011 21:25