In the 1930s a church group decided to put together a film, using unknown actors, that would lay out in chilling fashion the horrible way that marijuana could destroy lives.
Clearly some folks knew gold when they saw it as many years later it was made into a musical comedy. And now that extra effort is coming to Houston in Reefer Madness, the Musical as TUTS Underground opens its second season at the Hobby Center in Zilkha Hall.
"It's based on the '30s propaganda film. The one that said marijuana will make you sell your babies," says Dylan Godwin whose character is the master of ceremonies with strains of Joseph McCarthy and Cotton Mather running through him.
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"It's very, very over the top," Godwin says. "Although for my character it's very, very real." Complete with huge splashy dance numbers, the musical features tongue-in-cheek lyrics as well as "misnomers from the '30s that we now know are not true," says Godwin, the recipient of the 2014 Houston Theater Award for Best Breakthrough Performance for his role in Good People at the Alley Theatre.
Asked why audiences should turn out for this show in the smaller Zilkha Hall theater at the Hobby Center, Godwin says: "Because it is just a great time. It's really a brilliant time to be doing the show when marijuana decriminalization is so much in our consciousness with what's happened in California and Colorado."
The music ranges from an opening martial air to jazz to pop to sock hop to opera, Godwin says. And there's the added bonus of the song "Listen to Jesus, Jimmy," sung by a character playing, yes, Jesus.
Reefer Madness, the Musical runs September 25 through October 5 at Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and 3 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. For information call 713-558-8887 or visit tuts.com. $29-$53.