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Review Roundup: Critics Sound Off On Los Angeles Revival of REEFER MADNESS

The production features additional songs and material by the original creative team.

By: Jun. 17, 2024
Review Roundup: Critics Sound Off On Los Angeles Revival of REEFER MADNESS  Image
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The Los Angeles revival of Reefer Madness The Musical is now on stage and the critics have weighed in! The production features additional songs and material by the original creative team.

The production stars Anthony Norman (The Prom, Dear Evan Hansen) as Jimmy Harper, Darcy Rose Byrnes (Big Shot, Sofia the First) as Mary LaneJ. Elaine Marcos (Annie, Priscilla Queen of the Desert) as Sally De Bain, and Nicole Parker (Mad TV, Wicked) as Mae Coleman. 

Joining them are Thomas Dekker (Swimming with Sharks, A Nightmare on Elm Street) as Ralph Wiley and Bryan Daniel Porter (Dog Man, Sand Land) as The Lecturer/Jack/Jesus. Rounding out the ensemble are Jane Papageorge (Hair, 44: The Obama Musical), Claire Crause (Jagged Little Pill, Drag: The Musical), Alex Tho (The Masked Singer, General Hospital), Andre Joseph Aultman (Once On This Island, Man of La Mancha), Natalie Holt MacDonald (Allegiance, Singing in the Rain), and David Toshiro Crane (Prince of Egypt, Guys and Dolls).

The production is Directed and choreographed by Spencer Liff, Associate directed/choreographed by Maxx Reed, and features Book and lyrics by Kevin Murphy, book and music by Dan Studney

The production is produced by Kristen BellChristian CampbellAlan CummingAndy FickmanKevin MurphyAmerica Olivo, and Dan Studney, and Co-produced by Maia Falconi-Sachs, Madison Mohn, Jason Turchin, The Broadway Investor's ClubNick Padgett, Matthew A. Rosenthal and Executive Produced by Wendy Parker.

Reefer Madness features costume design by Max Levvit (“Pinwheel Pinwheel”) and music direction by David Lamoureux.

Let's see what the critics have to say!

Chris William, Variety: Casting is superb across the board, all the way to the last swing ensemble members (all of whom cycle through far more costume changes than you’d think possible for a show with this large a cast and this limited a backstage). As Jimmy, the chief pushover, Jimmy, Norman makes for a sympathetic enough nincompoop. Thomas Dekker has as much fun as anyone in the show, as Ralph Wiley, who preceded Jimmy as a victim initiated into the drug den, although he was a college boy when he succumbed. The visual gag about Ralph is that he continues to wears a letterman jacket throughout the show, as if he’d succumbed to drugs so quickly at some point in the past, he never had a chance to take it off, even though he’s now about as twitchy and servile an assistant to the villain as Dracula’s Renfield.

Kevin Taft, We Live Entertainment: The entire cast is on fire from Porter as the Lecturer (and Jesus), to Thomas Dekker (“Kaboom”) as the strung-out Ralph Wiley, to Nicole Parker’s hilariously droll owner of a drug den, to J. Elaine Marcos’ Sally – a single mother and sometimes whore,  to Norman’s formerly benign but then cracked out Jimmy, and of course Byrnes as Mary Lane who goes from squeaky clean to wild tomcat.

Katie Buenneke, Stage Raw: Thanks to a few catchy and oft-repeated hooks, Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney’s score is hummable, but their book isn’t as strong. Perhaps it plays better when the camp shines, or to a stoned audience, but to me it felt tiresome Liff’s choreography is stronger than his staging, which, combined with Mark A. Dahl’s set design, feels very reminiscent of the 2005 movie version of the musical that aired on Showtime.

Harker Jones, BroadwayWorld: Director and choreographer Spencer Liff has a light hand, placing his performers throughout the venue, twirling and kicking and pratfalling. The score and book by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney are vibrant as ever, cheeky and clever, now including new songs and material. The costume design by Pinwheel Pinwheel is quality, colorful and sexy. The set direction by Mark A. Dahl and the Reefer Den interior design by Peter Wafer transport audience members back to the 1930s with period-specific details and antiques like bird cages, bells, and pianos in the space of a speakeasy. Music direction by David Lamoureux is spirited, the band playing from a loft just above the stage.




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