Phoenix Ensemble is set to take audiences on a wild trip of drugs of debauchery – but it’s all in the name of poking fun at propaganda.
Reefer Madness, playing at Beenleigh’s Pavilion Theatre for five weekends in May and June, is a hit parody musical inspired by a 1936 educational film of the same name. The Phoenix production marks its Queensland premiere.
Over-the-top and campy, Reefer Madness features a lecturer warning against the new drug menace, marijuana, by telling the story of a high school student whose life is turned upside down by the ‘demon weed.’
Director Morgan Garrity promises a night of comedy and catchy songs, and says while the boundary-pushing satire is all about laughs, it does have an underlying message. ‘That message isn’t pro or anti-marijuana, but it is anti-propaganda,’ Morgan says.
‘It makes fun of the ridiculous lies placed upon society. Using scare tactics and one-sided research, propaganda films are usually over-acted and their messages slammed down the throats of viewers. This show makes a point of making light of the deadly seriousness of these films.’
Morgan cut her teeth on The Gordon Frost Organisation’s professional production of Annie: The Musical, starring Anthony Warlow, Todd McKenny, Nancy Hayes and Chloe Dallimore, as the assistant to the director Karen Mortimer.
She’s now relishing the chance to share what she learned from the experience with her Reefer Madness cast and crew and aims to bring the same level of professionalism to this production. Her creative team also includes award-winning choreographer and director, Kimmi Reynolds.
Morgan discovered Reefer Madness by fluke and fell in love with its songs, punchy choreography and zany, lovable characters.
‘Everything about this show is unique: it has a huge range of musical styles and tackles a subject matter no other show has dared explore. Once people see it, I’m sure everyone will be riding the high!’
With its outrageous humour, Reefer Madness is not for everyone. ‘It’s for adults who love a good laugh and to let their hair down and open their minds,’ Morgan says.
‘Audiences do need to use their judgement with their children, though, as there are lots of adults moments in the show, including drug references, drug use and sexual references.’
Note: Reefer Madness is a highly stylised and satirical political commentary. It contains adult humour, religious parody and drug use, as well as suggested violence and sexual explicitness. It therefore may be inappropriate for younger audiences.
Venue: Pavilion Theatre, Beenleigh Showgrounds, James Street, Beenleigh
7.30pm: 17, 18, 24, 25, 31 May; 1, 7, 8, 14, 15 June
Tickets: $26 adult; $24 concession
Lecturer : Pat Dickson
Jimmy Harper: Scott Johnson
Mary Lane: Greta Brinsley
Jack Stone: Andy MacFarlane
Mae Coleman: Karen Oliver
Sally: Jodie Lee Scott
Ralph Wiley: Frog Johnson
Jesus/Goatman: James Gauci/Scott Muller
Placard Girl: Jermia Turner
Miss Poppy: Becky Morgan