Love and Satire on Center Stage
Members of the Reefer Madness cast: (Front row, left to right): Melissa Brausch, Elio Gutierrez, Jonathan Blum. (Back row, left to right): Brianne Hidden-Wise, William Schmidt, Leah Fraizer, Michael Bowles. -- Photo by Brian Williams
Love of many kinds is running rampant at The Fair Oaks Theatre Festival this summer! Love for their beloved former Artistic Director Bob Irvin… love of satire and music… and love of the dreaded ‘reefer,’ a humble pig, and Shakespeare’s iconic Kate from “Taming of the Shrew.” All this love comes in the form of a summer theatre season that was inspired and driven by Irvin. The season’s show reflect his vision: “Reefer Madness,” “Charlotte’s Web,” and “SHREW!,” an original musical mapped out by Irvin before his untimely passing. Irvin’s 30-year legacy is in good hands with Beth Duggan (the new Artistic Director), and Karen Bombardier, the director of the season’s opening production of “Reefer Madness” (June 19 – July 23, 2017).
“Reefer Madness,” is an outrageous tongue-in-cheek musical comedy and a satirical sendup of the 1936 low-budget film on the menace of marijuana. It is laced with heady ballads, spectacular choreography (by Jacob Montoya) and hilarious musical commentary on the nature of government propaganda.
The musical tells the tale of the Harper Affair, in which young Jimmy Harper finds his life of promise turned into a life of debauchery and murder thanks to the new drug menace marijuana. Along the way he receives help from his girlfriend Mary Lane and even Jesus himself, but always finds himself in the arms of the Reefer Man and the rest of the denizens of the Reefer Den. Winner of seven awards, including Best Production: L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award, and Best Production: Backstage West Garland Award.
A sort of twilight-zone-meets-horror-film-meets-musical-comedy, this shows provides both thrills and chills that just may inspire a cult following! “Reefer” runs at 8:30pm Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through July 29. Tickets range from $12 (on Retro Sundays) to $18 general. “Reefer Madness,” an R-rated show.
Opening July 1 is “Charlotte’s Web,” a fun and faithful adaptation of E.B. White’s classic story of a gentle pig and his unlikely friend, a spider. The one-hour show features all of the novel’s favorite characters, including Fern, Homer Zuckerman and Templeton the Rat, and is followed by an opportunity for photos and autographs in the adjacent park. Tickets to all shows (Saturdays, July 1-22, 11am) are $5.
The final show of the season is “SHREW!,” an original musical set in 1930s Paris. This swinging little musical takes Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” as a launching off point, but brings the audience a feisty couple that’s evenly matched in strength and wit. Written by published author Jennifer Longo (“Six Feet Over It,” “Up to this Point”), “SHREW!” is filled with high fashion fun and music reminiscent of Cole Porter and Noel Coward. Musical Directors Lucy D’Mot, Kirt Shearer and Jonathan Blum set the perfect tone in this ‘jazz age’ musical comedy! Shows will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8pm from August 11 through September 17. Tickets range from $12 (on Retro Sundays) to $18 general.
In addition to theatre, the Fair Oaks Theatre Festival offers a full season of music this summer as well! Concerts include the popular folk music group “The New Christy Minstrels” (July 29 and 30), a New Orleans Jazz Night (James Pace & the Switch Blade Trio with Jessic Malone, August 5), and a Bluesy/Rock Night (Jeff Watson Band, September 30).
For more information on all productions and concerts, call (916) 966-3683 or visit www.FairOaksTheatreFestival.com.