That old reefer madness has us in its spell: The time is ripe in Denver for a revival of Reefer Madness (aka Tell Your Children), the 1938 anti-pot propaganda film directed by Louis Gasnier. The subject of various revivals over the years, now as a work of comedy, Reefer Madness will again be in the public eye when the 2001 stage version (also later made into a movie for Showtime) opens locally Friday at the Bug Theatre, 3654 Navajo Street.
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Deb Flomberg of Equinox Theatre Company couldn't be more thrilled. "I realized that the environment in Denver right now was perfect for it," she says. "And I can't believe nobody else got rights to it before us." The result of Equinox's first dip into a musical, she promises, is silly good fun with a large cast of twenty, led by Ovation Award-winner Eric Mather, and also features a five-piece live jazz band. Make that an evil jazz band -- just the thing for such songs as "Listen to Jesus, Jimmy" and "The Brownie Song." And there's more.
"It uses some of the craziest slang words for pot in it, things I'd never heard before: bambalatcha, muggles, giggle stick, bug leaf, mooter...," Flomberg notes with amazement. And, she adds, director/choreographer Colin Roybal has infused the Equinox production with a nonstop blast of hidden tributes to other musicals in every big number: "We slay Cats. We slay Les Miz and A Chorus Line and Little Shop." But Flomberg's biggest revelation about the play has to do with its built-in appeal for the Denver dispensary community. "Some of them," she reveals, "are buying blocks of tickets and hosting special theater nights for their best clients." And in the meantime, the Equinox Reefer cast and crew are recording a series of pre-opening Mad on the Street interviews to get prospective audiences in the mood.
Bottom line is, you don't have to be card-carrier to enjoy Reefer Madness. Performances start Friday at 7:30 p.m. and continue every Friday and Saturday through September 18; tickets are $12 to $15.