Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cry-Baby: A Broadway Review

Despite my close proximity to New York City, I've never really bothered going to Broadway shows. The first time I went to a show was about four years ago when I saw Hairspray. I really enjoyed the musical, since I was a fan of the original John Waters movie. So I was pretty interested when a friend of mine told me about an opportunity to go see Cry-Baby, another John Waters-inspired musical that just opened on Broadway. It has been a while since I watched the movie it's based on, but I also remember enjoying it quite a bit.

The Marquis Theater, which is where the play is running right now, was pretty packed when we went last night. We were also fortunate enough to have orchestra seats, which made viewing the show a lot more pleasurable. But while I found the musical fairly cute and did laugh a few times during the night, I have to admit that it's not the best show I've ever seen. After all, even though I haven't gone to many Broadway shows, I have seen plenty of amateur productions and movies that have been based on them. The best shows have the types of songs that can't get out of your head for days, the types of songs you might find yourself singing for no particular reason.

Unfortunately, Cry-Baby wasn't as memorable as it could have been. The musical, set in the 1950s, features plenty of songs that are derivative of the era's popular hits. But the songs lack a flavor that could help the musical carve a stronger identity for itself. And while some of the show's dialogue had its witty, mildly vulgar moments, it lacked the makings of an instant classic. Though I laughed heartily at a few lines, there were also a few parts where an obvious joke just fell flat.

That being said, the choreography did shine on occasion. I particularly liked elements of "Girl, Can I Kiss You?" and "Jailyard Jubilee" had the whole crowd applauding thunderously at the end. A dance sequence that required the men in the cast to tapdance while wearing license plates at the bottom of their shoes was incredibly energetic and well done. In addition, I did enjoy some of the supporting cast members quite a bit. Harriet Harris — who I personally remember most for her role in an early episode of The X-Files — was great as the old-fashioned Mrs. Vernon-Williams, delivering many of her lines in excellent deadpan. And Alli Mauzey, who played delusional Lenora, a girl vying for Cry-Baby's affections, was fantastic. While her insane-girl routine could have easily worn thin, she just became hilariously loopy as the musical progressed, and got some very loud applause during the curtain call.

But ultimately, as I said, the musical was just "cute." It just couldn't match the quirkiness of Hairspray and even though John Waters is a creative consultant for this production, it lacked the crass ridiculousness of his work. While it was a fun night out and a change from my usual routine for me to go see it, I'm not sure Cry-Baby will have much longevity on Broadway.

No comments: