Much like a certain President, New York theatregoers were expected to inhale but didn’t. Reefer Madness, an L.A. hit, was on its way to Off Broadway for this fall season, but available theatres of the right size were few and far between, so the show is now targeting winter or spring 2001, according to producer James L. Nederlander (reached Nov. 14).
The campy musical comedy, with music by Dan Studney, lyrics by Kevin Murphy, and a book by the duo, is hoping for a 499-seat house, said Nederlander, who is co-producing with Verna Harrah, in association with Nathaniel Kramer. “We’re hovering,” Nederlander told Playbill On-Line, thus putting the show in the company of such other OB hopefuls as Flyovers, Barrio Babies and The Lorca Play.
Reefer Madness lit up the West Coast, winning five Ovation Awards, including Ensemble and Best Musical in a Small Theatre; and seven L.A. Drama Critics Circle Awards, including outstanding production (a tie with Interact's The Cherry Orchard), Musical Score, Lead Performance (for Christian Campbell) and Choreography.
The show is based on a 1936 film drama that was meant as a cautionary tale to keep young people away from marijuana. Over the years, the movie's exaggerated acting, ham-fisted dialogue, one-sided viewpoint and medically questionable storyline turned it into a cult favorite of grade-Z movie lovers — not to mention potheads, who'd line up for midnight showings and watch the flick through a vale of smoke and a pile of munchies.
Director Andy Fickman has again been tapped to roll Reefer, with pop star Paula Abdul still signed on as choreographer. No word yet on the show’s designers or casting. In the L.A. mounting, Christian Campbell (actress Neve’s brother) took home an Ovation Award for Lead Performance. -- By David Lefkowitz
and Willard Manus