SUMNER — For years, Jon Leavitt has recorded his experiences as a medical marijuana caregiver and activist, detailing the characters and stories of a community of growers and patients in Western Maine.

Now, with help from a team of performers and musicians, he has put those stories to music in “Somewhere, Maine: The Marijuana Musical,” an eight-act production set to debut in Portland this spring. 

The production, developed over two years, is based his personal experiences and those of the patients, producers and consumers he’s met through the world of marijuana commerce, Leavitt said. 

“I think the story needs to be told and I think to put it into a format with song and dance and theater makes it accessible to people,” he said. 

The story of the musical follows Johnny Crashed — Leavitt’s alter ego — as he deals with the aftermath of his children being taken from him because he is a pot farmer. It includes a cast of almost 20 characters, including Jezebel, a former home-schooled evangelical Christian, and Redneck, a “local hell-raiser” out for revenge.

“It’s a story of resisters and rascals, prophets and poets, heretics and hillbillies, heartache and redemption, wrapped in a cloud of marijuana smoke that will take you into a world that remains invisible to many and inaccessible to most,” the show’s website says.

Music for the play was drawn up by Leavitt as part of his group Johnny Crashed and the Rednecks, and choreography was contributed by Nettie Gentempo and the Nevaeh dance group. 

The show will also feature performances from bands Tricky Britches, Skosh, and the Azzlan Family Band and a 20-person “Openly High Choir.”

“The world of marijuana is a hard world, and it comes with a lot of heartache but also with redemption on a bunch of different levels,” Leavitt said. “The intention of this is to give people something that lifts their spirits, even if it hurts them along the way.”

Leavitt moved to Sumner in 2006 and worked as the executive director of the Maine Marijuana Policy Initiative, a group that worked on the state’s 2009 law that loosened medical marijuana rules. Since 2009, he has been a full-time medical marijuana caregiver, cultivating on his small farm in Sumner that doubles as a venue for performances. In 2010, he started Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, a trade organization for small-scale growers.

He said the play may do more to help people understand the shadowy world of Maine’s marijuana industry than petition drives or political campaigns.

“People don’t have full access to this world, so they hear stories, they imagine scenarios and they create their own mythologies and fairy tales around it,” he said.

“Understanding that isn’t going to come from a person’s speech, it’s not going to come with a law change, it’s going to come from songs that play over and over in their heads and dance numbers that move them. People are going to feel something, that creates possibilities,” he said

“Somewhere Maine: The Marijuana Musical,” is set to debut at Port City Music Hall in Portland on April 20 — or 4.20 — this year.


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