Saturday, September 18th, 2010

CAMP, slightly slapstick and over-the-top B-movie humour are all part of a musical from Blak Yak Theatre (note to subs: there is no ‘C’ in Blak) this October, mixing the best of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Bat Boy, Urinetown and South Park.

Directed by Lorna Mackie at the Midland Junction Arts Centre and Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall, Reefer Madness is inspired by the 1936 film of the same name and takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the hysteria caused when clean-cut kids fall prey to marijuana.

“This leads them on a downward spiral, filled with evil jazz music, sex and violence, which essentially is a highly-stylised and satirical political commentary,” Mackie said.

“It’s set in the 1930s and, despite the subject material, the show is not
specifically pro-hemp or pro-marijuana – the themes of the show centre on the dangers of propaganda, paranoia and mob mentality.

“The audience is asked the age-old question: does the end really justify the means?”

Mackie said she had been looking for a musical to direct for some time and wanted to find something slightly alternative that wasn’t commonly performed.

Reefer Madness is a classic of this genre,” she said. “It’s clever, funny and totally irreverent and a brilliant piece of satirical humour.

“It’s deceptively simple in that it may appear to be simple to stage but, to really pull this style off effectively, it requires control, brilliant comic timing and an understanding of the layers in the production.

“Many of the scenes have double or triple meanings and, to convey the nuances effectively, everyone involved needs to really comprehend the underlying themes.

“The show is also quite musically complex because, on numerous occasions, there are four or five melody lines being performed with different lyrics which requires a lot of concentration and hard work from the performers.”

Given the musical's title and subject matter, Mackie admits some people may jump to conclusions and miss the point of the script.

“I would hope people just judge for themselves and come along to see a brilliant group of performers in a truly funny and clever production,” she said.

“There are so many layers that each person can take what they want from the show.”

Mackie has been acting since her teens in the UK, originally starting as a soloist in a ladies’ jazz group before performing in Calamity Jane, The Little Mermaid and Africa.

After emigrating to Australia, she has most recently performed in The Geometry of Love, Meals Warmed Up and Intermission Theatre, designed costumes for Some Enchanted Evening, Get Smart and The Admirable Crichton and stage managed Trainspotting.

One challenge that lies ahead for Mackie in Reefer Madness is the set design, which she describes as “a play within a play”.

“The set moves through a range of locations and is meant to have a home-made feel, so finding ways to effectively demonstrate scene changes with minimal props and sets has been quite a challenge for our stage manager and designer,” she said.

Reefer Madness plays at the Midland Junction Arts Centre at 8pm, October 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 with a 2pm matinee on October 10 and the Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall at 8pm, October 21, 22, 23, 28, 29 and 30 with a 2pm matinee on October 24.

Tickets are $22 adults, $18 concession – concession prices are available for large group bookings and, for the first 100 tickets sold, prices are $15 each. Booking on 0468 901 570 or at

Midland Junction Arts Centre is on the corner of Cale Street and Great Eastern Highway, Midland, and the Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall is on the corner of Carrington Street and Rockingham Road, Hamilton Hill.

reefer1: The cast of Reefer Madness, ready for satirical and over-the-top B-movie humour this October.

reefer2: Lexi Rollins, Joanne Neesham and Mikey Keith (seated) and Morgan Phillips and Kirilee Lennerts (standing) in Blak Yak Theatre’s production of Reefer Madness.

reefer3: Mikey Keith is surrounded by angels Natalya Moosa, Lexi Rollins, Joanne Neesham in Reefer Madness this October.

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Blak Yak Theatre

Blak Yak is a not for profit community theatre group. Established in 1993, we have been committed to producing high quality theatre. Our productions have been taken from such diverse sources as William Shakespeare, Tom Stoppard, Terry Pratchett and even television sitcoms.

We’ve always been an advocate for the underdog, and were originally founded to give first time writers and directors a chance to stage their shows. We still have that nurturing attitude, and we’re always looking for people, which means that Blak Yak is a great first step into theatre for performers, directors and technicians.

Blak Yak does not have a home. We are one of the few nomadic clubs in the Perth metro area. From Wanneroo to Kwinana and from Fremantle to Kalamunda, we have taken our unique and award-winning brand of theatre all over Perth.
Lorna Mackie
P: 0413 031 509


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