Saturday, April 19, 2008

Our final Broadway show was a preview of CRY-BABY, the second show to be crafted out of a John Waters film. However everything that HAIRSPRAY is, this isn't.

It started promisingly with a rockabilly overture with
shouted instructions like "Turn off your cell phone", "Thank the ushers" and "Stop rustling". However as one unremarkable 50s pastiche song followed the other I fought hard against the sinking feeling that this was a show that just wasn't going anywhere at all.

The film has a lot going for it but does rather coast a bit with several dud scenes and performances. What it does have however is a great pastiche score, a nice performance by Amy Locane as good girl Alison and of course a huge star role for Johnny Depp as Wade 'Cry-Baby' Walker, the town bad boy who of course is just mis-understood. He is charismatic and always watchable.

Here the role is played by James Snyder and he almost blends into the bright dayglo sets. He sings, he dances, he
acts - but he is totally uncharismatic and forgettable. And that is a major problem. The role of Alison is played by Elizabeth Stanley who was ok but she too wasn't given much to do in the second act.The supporting performers seemed to fair better. In the first act there was a scene set in a drape jukejoint outside town and here two minor characters finally put some fire on stage. Chester Gregory II channeled Little Richard for the raucous "Jukebox Jamboree". This was soon followed by Alli Mauzey as Lenora, Cry-Baby's crazed stalker who sang the arse off "Screw Loose". Again however the material was fairly generic.This was also demonstrated in the second half when Harriet Harris playing Alison's grandmother Mrs. Vernon-Williams - who up until then had the best of the script's gags - stopped the show with a solo number "I Did Something Wrong Once". When I say stopped the show I mean it did just that. It went on and on and on for no other reason than to give her a solo - and a damn poor one at that. The fact the song was a musical confession for wrongly accusing Cry-Baby's parents of treason which lead to their being executed also seemed totally out-of-kilter with the show.

You can overlook any book or cast oddities in a musical if the score works but here... I suspect the problem lies in the fact that the composer Adam Schlesinger and the lyricist David Javerbaum have tried to write a Broadway score... sadly they have not written the score that CRY-BABY needs.

If I had known how disappointed I would be by this show I would have gone to see XANADU again instead!


Owen said...

Cry Baby could have done with some glitter balls... Xanadu rules in that respect!

Gareth said...

you have an obsession with glitter balls.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, can't help thinking this must truly be the skinny decaff latte of Broadway musicals i.e. "Why Bother?" Cry Baby is surely the weakest of John Waters' movies (never got around to seeing the Tracy Ullman vehicle so can't comment on that). Sure, it had Hatchet Face, Mink Stole in an iron lung, Ricky Lake giving birth in the back of a car (did THAT little lot make it to the stage version?), Iggy Pop and a veh veh veh young Jonny Depp, but if ever a celluoid outing amounted to less than a sum of its parts, Cry Baby is it. Was his homage to Grease II compensation for not being able to make Flamingos Forever? I think we should be told.