Review: Zany ‘Reefer Madness: the musical’ is great fun at Players Club of Swarthmore

Andrew Dean Laino, Jeff Berry and Meg Cranney turn in excellent performances  in “Reefer Madness, the musical,” at the Players Club of Swarthmore.

By Margie Royal

I have the catchy opening number from the musical “Reefer Madness,” stuck in my head. That’s thanks to the excellent production of “Reefer Madness” now onstage through Feb. 4 at Players Club of Swarthmore. The show, with music by Dan Studney and book and lyrics by Kevin Murphy, is well-directed by Thomas-Robert Irvin, who also selected a dynamite cast to bring this show to life on the PCS Second Stage. The 1998 musical spoofs the 1936 propoganda film which detailed, with great seriousness, the many evils that would come from smoking marijuana.
Jeff Berry is terrific as the Lecturer who guides us through the story of Jimmy (Andrew Dean Laino) and Mary (Meg Cranney), squeaky-clean 1936 high school sweethearts, whose bright future is derailed when Jimmy visits the home of Mae (Cathy Gibbons Mostek) and her drug-supplier/gangster boyfriend, Jack (Jeffrey Barg). Also living with Mae are Sally (Dana Corvino) and Ralph (Chaz Meyers). All three are hooked on the evil weed, as the Lecturer shows us, with help from his assistant, The Placard Girl (Madeline Iacobucci).

The decadent lifestyle Jimmy falls into thanks to “reefer” is told in campy numbers such as “Jimmy Takes A Hit” and “The Orgy” which features some naughty choreographry by Emily Aaron Fishman. Jimmy’s drug-induced stupor makes him see Jesus (Christian Carter), and The Goat Man (Greg Hedler), zombies and more.
Mary vows to find Jimmy and save him, but I won’t spoil the fun of seeing the show by telling you the outcome of her search.
The whole cast is terrific; I thought the leads were outstanding and the chorus was also solid.
The set for the show features a tiny stage trimmed with a green glittery banner and four cubes adorned with marijuana leaves. The cubes are cleverly moved about to serve the many scenes and song and dance numbers.
Becky Wright’s costumes and Elizabeth Iannacci and Derek Jay Ross’ well-chosen props help tell the tale, and add to the show’s zany style.
It’s not a show for kids: there’s strong language, adult humor and suggestive dancing.

The Players Club’s Raymond W. Smith stage is also not handicapped-accessible.
Music Director Pat D’Amato plays keyboard and four other musicians perform live music for the show. While the band sounds great, in such a small space as the Second Stage the music tends to overpower the performers at times.
PCS’ “Reefer Madness: the Musical” is highly enjoyable. At a time when our new president keeps busy tweeting propaganda of his own, it’s a lot of fun to take a brief escape from it all into the world of “Reefer Madness: the Musical”.

Remaining performances are Feb. 3 at 8 p.m., and twice on Feb. 4: 8 p.m. and again at midnight. Admission is $15, at the door or in advance at www.pcstheater.org or 866-811-4111. The Players Club is at 614 Fairview Road in Swarthmore, PA.