by Chris Davis
While browsing through the Library of Congress film archives Keith Stroup, of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, stumbled across a forgotten church-financed exploitation film from the 1930's called Reefer Madness. The ridiculous propaganda film had been developed as a cautionary tale about the perils of dope smoking, but it was purchased and re-edited by exploitation film producer and occasional sideshow huckster Dwain Esper, and transformed into a masterpiece of accidental comedy.
Stroup, seeing an opportunity to to raise money for NORML, acquired a print of the public domain film. In 1972 he booked it on a fundraising tour of college campuses and a cult classic was born.
Reefer Madness — also released under the titles Tell Your Children, Doped Youth, and (my favorite) The Burning Question — became a stage musical in 2005, and opens at the Circuit Playhouse tonight. (Friday, Oct. 11). Deets.
If nothing else, the show has already inspired some fantastic promotional t-shirts for Playhouse on the Square. On sale now!
Mel Brooks' musical adaptation of Young Frankenstein-- originally a film about film— loses something vital in its translation to the stage. But it gains a little something too: Freedom.
Theatre fans who've seen director Cecilia Wingate's previous work on shows like Little Shop of Horrors know that she knows her scary movies, and she knows how to turn the thrills and chills into comedy gold.
Tickets information here.
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