Marijuana musical comes to Portland

The cast of &quotSomewhere in Maine": Rebecca, Redneck, Johnny Crashed, Mother Mary Jane and Jezebel.
Courtesy of Cow Pasture Productions
The cast of "Somewhere in Maine": Rebecca, Redneck, Johnny Crashed, Mother Mary Jane and Jezebel.
Playwright and activist Jonathan Leavitt
Courtesy of Cow Pasture Productions
Playwright and activist Jonathan Leavitt
Posted Feb. 23, 2014, at 11:49 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine has hundreds of licensed caregivers cultivating marijuana for people with health issues. As the cottage industry booms, it was only a matter of time before someone set it to music.

Jonathan Leavitt of Sumner, is taking a crack with “Somewhere, Maine: The Marijuana Musical.”

Coming to Port City Music Hall on April 20, the theatrical romp follows a cast of characters working on a pot farm in western Maine in 2009. They dance, sing, perform burlesque and put a new spin on misunderstood and oft-maligned industry.

Leavitt, who led the 2009 medical marijuana initiative in Maine, didn’t have to dig deep for material.

“The characters are all about people whose lives are real,” said the marijuana farmer, writer, activist and musician who runs Open Sky Farm in Sumner. “It’s an interesting story about a guy whose children are taken away because of marijuana.

“Let’s just say this story is very familiar to me,” he said.

The all-Maine cast consists of actors and musicians from Oxford County and the Portland area.

There’s Jezebel, a home-schooled Christian girl trying to save souls through music; sensuous healer Mother Mary Jane, who runs a smoke easy; and Joe Oliver, a war veteran returning home from Afghanistan with “some serious PTSD issues,” said Leavitt.

The drama unfolds at the home of country music outlaw Johnny Crashed, played by Leavitt.

Leavitt’s alter ego, Crashed, composed original music such as “Redneck Revenge” and “Home Schooled Christian Girl” for the show. Dancing is encouraged.

“There are elements of comedy and drama, dance,” said director Dave Lyon. “There really is nothing to compare it to.”

The 15-member cast is backed up with a 20-person “openly high choir,” who Leavitt says are “always puffing.”

Though fans of traditional Broadway may scoff, “the intention is to bring this world out of the shadows,” said Leavitt. “It’s all about marijuana and nothing about marijuana.”

To Leavitt, no stranger to controversy, “people have been hurt from the government’s war on drugs.”

“Somewhere, Maine” seeks to go beyond the stereotypes that permeate the industry to illuminate the struggles of the trade that aides the sick, Leavitt says.

“A majority of people still look askance at people who grow marijuana,” he said. “We are still seen as a criminal element and second class citizens.”

The show, equal parts camp and gravity, isn’t expected to change minds in 75 minutes, but “when people experience the whole production, they are going to feel uplifted,” said Leavitt. “It’s a mixture of both light and dark.”

“Somewhere, Maine: The Marijuana Musical” is at Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St., Portland, April 20. Tickets are $29-$99. For information, visit Portcitymusichall.com.

 

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