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Josh Bellan

Those of us of a certain age may recall the cult classic “Reefer Madness”. The 1936 film was intended to scare young people out of trying marijuana – which has also been known as “grass”, “weed”, “pot” and “reefer”.

Twenty years ago, composer Dan Studney and lyricist Kevin Murphy adapted the old movie as a satirical musical which has played throughout the US. The musical was staged for the first time in Canada in Toronto in 2006 and played Toronto a second time in 2011.
On December 6, “Reefer Madness: The Musical” will be making its Winnipeg debut – kicking off the Winnipeg Studio Theatre’s 2018-2019 season with a ten-day run at the Tom Hendry Warehouse Theatre.
The Winnipeg Studio Theatre online blurb notes the “this outrageous musical comedy takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the hysteria caused when clean-cut kids fall prey to marijuana, leading them on a hysterical downward spiral filled with evil music, sex and violence”.
“It is certainly a timely production,” observes Josh Bellan, one of the stars of the show, referring to the recent legalization of marijuana in Canada. “The play deals with a lot of political issues related to control of people as well as the media.”
Bellan plays Jimmy - one of 16 characters in the show – whom he describes as an “innocent guy who has his life turned around by marijuana”.

For Bellan, a rising musical theatre star in our Jewish community, this is his second Winnipeg Studio Theatre production and first leading role. “I am pretty excited,” says the 21-year-old son of Murray Bellan and Robyn Zimberg.
In an earlier interview last spring after another winning performance at the annual Winnipeg Music Festival, Bellan noted that he was inspired to pursue a career in song by musicals he saw at Rainbow Stage and the Manitoba Theatre Centre.
The young performer is currently in his graduating year at the University of Manitoba School of Music (where he is studying voice). He previously attended Grant Park High School, which is well known for its performing arts program.
Over the summer, Bellan appeared in a Fringe show. “I will probably be auditioning around the city over the spring and summer - after I graduate – and see what happens,” he says.
Winnipeg Studio Theatre was founded in 2006 by Brenda Gorlick and Kayla Gordon – who has served as artistic director. Gordon was previously the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre’s artistic director (1994-2006). WST serves as a training vehicle for younger Winnipeg adults who are trying to break into theatre as performers, directors, stage managers, designers or production staff.

For information about tickets for “Reefer Madness”, go to or phone the MTC box office at 204-942-6537.

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