Last night I attended a preview showing of Cry-Baby, a musical love story set to debut at the Marquis Theatre on April 24th. If someone had told me that the writers of “Hairspray” had brought another John Waters flick to Broadway, teaming up with Adam Schlesinger of the Fountains of Wayne and David Javerbaum for the score, Cry-Baby is exactly what I would have expected. Set in 1950’s Maryland, the story has an overall "Grease-meets-Dirty-Dancing" satirical quality. As we waited for Cry-Baby, riffraff musician and our protagonist, to win the hearts and minds of the bluebloods standing between him and his love interest, Allison, we were delighted by high-energy music, intelligent, tongue-in-cheek satire/farce and one-liners aplenty.
The individual performances were all very good, but we’re hard-pressed to say that any of them were truly spectacular. Let’s preface this by saying that we’re no Broadway critic, but we have seen many Broadway musicals and would put Elizabeth Stanley’s lead performance as Allison at a solid “OK.” James Snyder made a pretty good Cry-Baby and seemed to have the lungs and the tone to back it up. Allison’s grandmother, Cornelia Vernon-Williams, played by Harriet Harris, was an audience favorite. In fact, she is more-or-less the same character as Kitty Forman in “That 70’s Show,” which was a little frustrating, since Mrs. Vernon-Williams was obviously played by someone other than Debra Jo Rupp. That being said, Harris did a great job for someone who’s not Rupp and her performance was thoroughly enjoyable.
Despite all the talent on stage, however, the real show-stopper was an ensemble member, who we have to guess was Charlie Sutton. His ripped abs and humorously inappropriate yet still oh-so-nice gyrations caught our eye mid-“Nobody Gets Me.” We were waiting for him to break out of the chorus line to steal the lead, but alas, it never happened. Regardless, after “Nobody Gets Me,” it was all eyes on Charlie.
Overall, I liked the show and if I had paid for the tickets they would’ve been worth it. If you liked Hairspray or Legally Blonde, give Cry-Baby a whirl. You won’t be disappointed.