Reefer Madness!

Dates and Venue 16-21 June & 2-4 July 2009 @ 8pm |PAL Theatre - 8th Floor, 581 Cardero Street, Vancouver

Reviewer Ed Farolan

In their programme notes, directors Maddison Popov (who also plays Ralph) and Brianna Wiens point out that their company, Joint Effort Theatre (again, the play on words for "joint" as in "reefer"), was originally a "hodgepodge of friends, musicians and theatre lovers who came together to create something out of nothing". The show was a hit with sold-out tickets for their five performances on Vancouver Island. Afterwards, they both went to Capilano University to study Theatre and while there, got together with fellow students in the Theatre Department to do a repeat of this show.

I must admit it was a terrific show. Capilano has an excellent Theatre Programme, and John Jane has reviewed many of the shows presented by Exit 22, and from what I read from his reviews, he's been truly impressed with these university students.

In this production, there was charisma, rapport with the audience, and all that energy only the young can exude in such a gruelling but fun musical as this one is. I was impressed by the choreography of Rachel Paish, the only non-Capilano student (she studies at UVIC and teaches dance and "strippersize" at Taboo Dance and Fitness). I could tell from the sexy dances in this musical that she indeed is an expert instructor in striptease.

Two actors that stole the show were Mike Kovac (Jack/Jesus) and Sean Parsons who played multiple roles, from Devil to Lecturer, and towards the end, President Roosevelt. I was also pleasantly amused by the female dancers who were simply marvelous--they were sexy, pretty and weren't ashamed to show their panties as they danced wildly on stage.

Inspired by the original 1936 film, this musical comedy takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the hysteria caused by marijuana. Today (how times have changed!) it's like smoking cigarettes; in fact, it's claimed that it's healthier than smoking tobacco and it's legal in some countries like the Netherlands. In Canada and the US, it's almost legal. All you need is a doctor's prescription. And even if you don't, people smoke it and you don't have the police at your back threatening to put you to jail or fining you.

Anyway, it was a a remarkable show. These students delivered like professionals, but that's precisely what university theatre programs are there for -- to eventually get you ready for professional theatre.

© 2009 Ed Farolan