Maybe success follows shows that sport exclamation points after their titles. Who knows?! Whatever the reason, after close to a year of smokin' success at the Hudson Backstage Theatre, Reefer Madness! has closed up shop here and is now prepping for the big move to Off-Broadway.
If all goes well, sweethearts Jimmy Harper and Mary Lane, reefer sluts Sally and Mae, munchie maniac Ralph, dope dealer Jack, and the rest of the Reefer gang could be lighting up New York as early as this fall. (For a detailed show synopsis and background information, see the website at www.reefermadness.org.) Negotiations are underway to determine exactly when the show will move, who will move with it, and what theater it will move into. Compared to the 99-seat Hudson, the New York houses under consideration are very large at just under 500 seats; the most likely locations at this point seem to be either the East or West Village.
Transferring the homegrown Reefer to the Off-Broadway boards is serious business, but director Andy Fickman is keeping his cool--and his sense of humor. "I'm thrilled about the move," beams Fickman. "Los Angeles has been a tremendous home for our show. And now, with the opportunity to move on to New York and various other cities, we can truly sell Reefer Madness! to the world without fear of arrest or a long-term prison sentence."
Producer Stephanie Steele admits that "Nothing will ever compare with Reefer. This show has expanded my boundaries as a producer in every direction, and I feel truly lucky that it is making this move. It's rare to find a gem such as this show, and I couldn't be happier to have contributed to its recognition in L.A."
It was a little over two years ago that composer/writer Dan Studney and lyricist/writer Kevin Murphy were driving back from a film shoot in Oakland, grooving along to Frank Zappa's "Joe's Garage" in the car, when the idea for a musical version of Reefer Madness! struck them. " 'Joe's Garage' was like Zappa's attempt at a musical," Studney explains, "and I was thinking I'd love to stage it. Then there was some line about reefer or anti-authority or whatever, and I said to Kevin, 'How come nobody's ever done Reefer Madness! as a musical?'"
You can almost see a light bulb flash on over the heads of Murphy and Studney as the former recounts this tale of inspiration. "Kevin was like, 'I don't know! How come nobody's ever done that?!' And that's how the idea was born. The rest of the ride, we talked about where there would be musical moments, and later that week we wrote the first song, 'Dead Old Man.' That's why we're called Dead Old Man Productions--that and, if you had to have an investor write a check, it was just kinda funny that they'd have to write it to Dead Old Man Productions."