By Halie Williams, Columbus Underground
Just two days after the marijuana holiday, four twenty, Shadowbox Live presents a new musical that gives you a reason to develop “the fear.”
“Reefer Madness,” takes an over-the-top approach on the 1936 propaganda film, mocking the reel’s portrayal of the dangers of the reefer.
I guess I should lead-in to the review and say that I am a huge fan of the Shadowbox Live Theater. I have yet to attend a show that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy, and this show was no exception.
The musical follows Jimmy, played by Jamie Barrow, and his fall into the evil drug, marijuana.
The show opens with the lecturers, Tom Cardinal and Mary Randle, addressing the risks of the drug and introducing the play within a play, along with the opening song, “Reefer Madness.” The number is packed with “zombie” characters to portray the lifeless soul of a “reefer fiend” and is a bit excessive, yet well performed.
Thereafter, you meet Jimmy, and Mary Lane, played by Renee Horton, with their song “Romeo and Juliet,” poking at the innocent mind of a student by their desire to be just like the characters Romeo and Juliet, pointing out that they have not yet read the end but expect that it must be great.
The story then leads into The Reefer Den, where weed peddlers lead innocent teenagers into becoming fiends. It is here when you meet, in my opinion, two of the most entertaining characters. Sally, played by Nikki Fagin, one of my personal favorite performers at Shadowbox, is an oblivious weed peddler who sells her child for “her fix.”
Ralph, played by Andy Ankrom, is a former college student turned addict whose contagious “giggles” make the show.
Clear highlights of the musical are during both scenes in which Jesus, played by Billy DePetro, show up. At first, to inform Jimmy to quit his drug addicted ways, and towards the end of the show, he appears to gloat about being right. DePetro is energetic and interactive with the crowd.
The show then displays Jimmy running into some trouble that he cannot escape, Mary Lane’s fall to the drug, joining Jimmy and ultimately ending her life, and Jimmy meeting his fate, in this case the electric chair.
“Reefer Madness” brings the audience spectacular performances, while poking fun at the propaganda and the dangers of smoking.
However, to play the devils advocate, I will admit that “Reefer madness” was not one of my favorites. I suppose I’m just more entertained by their sketch comedy shows than a cheesy musical.
The exaggerated acting and cheesy one-liners make “Reefer Madness” incomparable to past shows that I have seen. But then again, there’s no reason to make a comparison, every show at the Shadowbox Live theater is worth seeing.