“This Bud’s for You” takes on new meaning in Humboldt…

Dell’Arte International presents, “Mary Jane: The Musical,” returning to its Festival stage June 21 through July 8,  with four new songs, reflecting current changes in community attitudes on the price of Cannabis, cultural divisions, and who benefits from the black market, or making it legal.

What began as a back-to-the-land movement after the “Summer of Love” in 1969 has morphed into a hot topic of national concern. For Cannabis has become the economic engine of Northern California, with 2.6 billion dollars flowing annually through the state’s “Emerald Triangle,” which includes Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino counties – challenging environmental norms and local law enforcement.

Humboldt County has been home to Dell’Arte International (DAI) for the past 38 years. Its theatre ensemble is known internationally for its development of “Theatre of Place,” bringing the community a little closer to the stage, and the stage a little closer to the community.

In 2011, DAI premiered “Mary Jane: The Musical” exploring the role of Cannabis in its own backyard, through songs by a dozen composers and staging by longtime director Michael Fields, “Mary Jane” reveals the positive role of Cannabis in the local economy, as well as its medicinal value. But the musical also shares the dark underbelly of the ‘industry’ where grow-houses, violence, and polluting cultivation methods have become a scourge to the greenbelt of Nor Cal.

“Mary Jane” clearly hit a community nerve, playing to SRO crowds in its premiere at DAI’s 2011 summer Mad River Festival. Last Fall the production opened the Humboldt Hempfest, an event hosting music and dance, as well as forums on Cannabis politics, dispensary woes, Federal to State legalities, and even the unionization of those who work as trimmers of the plant prior to sale.

Sung in concert style by a cast of fourteen singers, actors and musicians,  “Mary Jane: The Musical” is led by DAI’s founding artistic director Joan Schirle as first-generation grower, “Mary Jane, The Diva of Sativa.”   The star of show  shares the good, the bad, the funny and the sad side of Cannabis in original songs born of the local culture, for whether you think Mary Jane’s an industrial pollutant or a magical mystery, there’s a song to sing about it!

Song styles range from rasta, to showtunes, to heavy metal, with a Bollywood grand finale, choreography by Laura Munoz. Other original songs penned by Tim Gray include, “This Bud’s For You,” “Emerald Ball,” and “Why Is Whiskey Legal (and Pot Is Not)?” Other scores were contributed by Eldin Green, Joyce Hough, Scott Menzies, Lila Nelson, Joani Rose, Tim Randles, Zuzka Sabata, and Joan Schirle, with musical arrangements by Randles.

“Mary Jane” plays three weekends at the Rooney Amphitheatre, 131 H Street, located in the idyllic and historic town of Blue Lake, in Northern California. Tickets are available by phone or online via its Web site,

SHOW DATES: June 21 – July 8, 2012.
Tickets: $18/$15/$12
DAI Box Office: (707) 668-5663 x20
Tickets Online:  A $2 service charge per order is added to credit card sales.

Directed/developed by Michael Fields. Choreographed by Laura Munoz. Musical arrangements by Tim Randles.. Set by Daniel Spencer, costumes by Lydia Foreman and lighting by Michael Foster. Production Stage Manager: Kristin Shumaker. Sound Engineer: Tim Gray.
Joan Schirle, Joyce Hough, Meridith Ann Baldwin, Janessa Johnsrude, Pratik Motwani, Ryan Musil, David Belton Powell, and Jacob Trillo, with musicians Tim Randles, Marla Joy, Mike LaBolle, and David Perez.

Review quotes:
“The show serves up a bountiful banquet of terrific, witty (sometimes surprisingly poignant), insightful songs blessed with wicked, wonderful lyrics and marvelous melodies.”
–Beti Trauth, Humboldt Beacon 7/1/11

“Though the event was something of a coming out party for “the Industry,” the show itself suggested issues and complexities on cultural and personal levels…. what holds the evening’s meaning and madness together is Joan Schirle’s star power. We’re always with her, and we’ll follow her anywhere.”
–Willliam Kowinski, StageMatters, NorthCoast Journal, 6/30/11

“Mary Jane squarely confronts this paradoxical dual nature of NorCal’s signature crop. But it does so with a lot more generosity and humor – not to mention sheer razzle-dazzle showmanship – than we’ve seen in some recent public hearings on the topic. The show successfully humanizes its subject.”
–Lincoln Kaye, ANewsCafe 6/30/11

“…the play is a satirical and sometimes biting descriptor of Humbyland in all its green glory.” ‘Mary Jane: The Musical’ sprang from Cali’s failed Prop. 19, which would have forced Humboldt to deal with its main economic squeeze, if passed. Instead, the failed proposition began a conversation that continues with humor, sadness, and a respect for the bud.”
–Sharon Letts, NUG Magazine, 8/10/11

Photos By: Sharon Letts

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