Drew Magazine

Winter 2000

Standing Ovations: Drew Alumni Honored With Theater Awards

by Douglas P. Rigg

Daniel Studney Class of '89 and Kevin Murphy Class of '89 swept the 1999 Ovation Awards for their new translation /musical adaptation of the 1936 marijuana "scare movie," *Reefer Madness*. The Ovations, presented by the Los Angeles Theatre League Alliance, celebrate theatrical achievement in Southern California and are the only peer-judged, competitive awards for theater in Los Angeles.

*Reefer Madness* won five of its six nominated categories among strong competition, beating out the likes of *The Enigma Variations* and the popular New York transplants *Cabaret* and *When Pigs Fly*. Julio Martinez of *Variety* called the work ". . .a wonderfully inventive, super-charged musical parody." *Reefer* won for Best New Translation or Adaptation, Best Musical and Best Costume Design (smaller theater categories), Best Director of a Musical, and Best Ensemble Performance.

Since graduating from Drew in 1989, Studney, a theatre major, and Murphy, political science and theatre double major, pursued careers in television and film writing. They worked independently on personal projects and collaborated when possible. The idea to remake *Reefer Madness* as a camp musical was born as the two drove down the freeway enjoying Frank Zappa on the car stereo. Murphy wrote the song lyrics while Studney wrote the music; they wrote the spoken dialogue together.

Says Murphy, "Dan and I both owe a great debt to the Drew University Theatre Department, especially the faculty, for allowing us the creative leeway to produce two musicals [as students] before a live audience. There is no greater educational tool than seeing your work up on its feet, warts and all."

"We made a point of thanking Drew at the Ovation Award ceremony in Los Angeles -- with good reason."

*Reefer Madness* runs at the Hudson Backstage Theatre in Hollywood (310/289-2999) through February 6. Further information can be found at their website: www.reefermadness.org. Murphy and Studney are currently negotiating with a major theatrical organization to bring the show to New York.

Copyright 2000, Drew University


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