Keep Houston Press Free

Houston Press Podcast: Reefer Madness

Start the school year off with everything your parents warned you about -- sex, drugs and … show tunes? Okay, so maybe a musical isn’t what comes to mind for an end-of-the-summer celebration, but

Reefer Madness

doesn’t exactly posses the wholesome family fun of

Guys and Dolls


South Pacific

. The musical was based on the 1936 film of the same name meant to scare the beejezus out of anyone even thinking about trying the evil marijuana. With one puff, the protagonist it transformed into a sex-hungry, abusive, spastic, cackling drug feign who will stop at nothing to get his next fix. The musical, created more than 30 years after the film was released, takes this idea and runs all the way to a crack house with it. The cast of

Reefer Madness

owns up to the campiness needed to portray the larger-than-life characters who satirize the film’s attempt to over-dramatize the effects of marijuana.

Keep clicking for pot, propaganda and a podcast...

"This play totally makes fun of propaganda,” says Sofia Mendez. “It takes it, balls it up and throws it back into your face.” Mendez plays leading lady Mary Lane who fights to win back her boyfriend Jimmy Harper who has a new love: Mary Jane (wink, wink). Jimmy’s battle is played out to songs like “Listen to Jesus, Jimmy” a 70s-inspired, gospel dance number starring an Afro-clad black Jesus and other numbers such as “Down at the Ol’ Five and Dime” add a 40s swing for a sexy explanation of how a malt shop could be a front for a drug operation. The musical has become a cult-classic for its Rocky Horror-esque appeal (i.e. risqué content and irreverent attitude). Of course, this is also why the show hasn’t been embraced by the more conservative suburban crowd.

This is nothing new for director John “Cash” Carpenter who sent a few shockwaves through the neighborhoods surrounding North Harris Community College last year with his production of Urinetown. He says his announcement to close the season this year with Reefer Madness was met with plenty a raised eyebrow. “I had to go through every power that be to get it approved,” Cash says. “And then I’ve had to write all kinds of things like 'we’re not going to smoke reefer on stage.’” He adds there was also a voice of concern from outside the college. “People are saying this is trash theater, I shouldn’t be doing it, it’s for kids, it’s not true art, it’s potty humor,” he says.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Actress Tara Bostwick says her mother even had objections. “[She said] ‘I can’t take my church friends to see it,’” Of course, these fears and concerns about the show’s content are what the musical addresses and Carpenter and his cast believe are even more of a reason to continue on. Many of the performers say their friends are looking forward to performance and even offered to provide them with plenty of realistic props (read: weed). 8 p.m. North Harris Community College Performing Arts Theatre, 2700 W. W. Thorne Drive. Tuesday, August 7 through Sunday, August 12. For tickets and information, call 281-765-7963 or visit www.northharriscollege.com. $15. - Dusti Rhodes

Click the buttons below for a Houston Press podcast.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.