June 8, 2001

Just Say . . . Yes?

by Jesse McKinley

It's been a big year for goofy musicals, with "Bat Boy" downtown and "Urinetown" moving to Broadway. Now, comes word of a third: "Reefer Madness."

The show, a sellout hit in Los Angeles in 1999-2000, is based on the 1936 propaganda film that recounts the harrowing story of teenagers seduced by marijuana, the shadowy and illegal drug sometimes known as reefer.

The musical, which is to open at the Variety Arts Theater in early October, loosely follows the movie's plot, telling how Jimmy and Mary, a fine young couple, are led into a hellish spiral of cannibis, cannibalism and show tunes. James L. Nederlander Jr., one of the show's producers, may have best described the show's ethos: "It's like `Leave It to Beaver' meets `Rocky Horror.' "

"Reefer Madness" was written by Dan Studney and Kevin Murphy, buddies from Drew University who wrote the show whilst toiling in the television industry. It was not, they insist, drug-induced.

"We weren't stoned during any of it," Mr. Murphy said. "I need every little brain cell I have.

©NY Times


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