Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Cry Baby

James Synder - you ROCK. Well, more importantly - the entire cast ROCKS! Cry Baby, the latest new musical to arrive on the scene at New York's Marriott Marquis Theater threatens to rock the town to the bedrock. Cry Baby is a musical (Book by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan, Songs by David Javerbaum and Adam Schlesinger) based on the film of the same name which was written and directed by John Waters. Needless to say, there are some boundaries to be pushed.

First and foremost - the entire cast simply rocks the house from the opening number to the final ultimo. No stage is better equipped to fly in and out the dazzling sets to support all the toe tappin' numbers. Dancing, dancing, and more dancing. That ensemble couldn't have kicked higher and tapped harder. Speaking of hard... those dancing boys had rock hard kick ass bods literally dripping with sweat and oozing sex. Someone bring me a glass of cold water! Wow-za!

I think the critics will say - it's a musical without it's own identity. It doesn't seem to have any memorable numbers - even though each of the numbers is a toe-tapping Broadway delight. It's sort of a mix between Grease and Oklahoma; between Hairspray and Spring Awakening; between The Music Man and Jersey Boys - - I think you get the idea. It's classically structured - two romantic leads, two comedic leads with a chorus of talented actors. The story itself is a contrast between the "good kids" and the "bad kids". So hence you get both worlds colliding on stage - A barber shop quartet followed by a James Brown-esque rock number followed by a West Side Story dance number. This one has it all. Time will only tell if it has the staying power to keep all those things alive under it's own unique brand.

All this typing and I have not gotten to one of the best parts - Harriet Harris! She's a delight as Mrs. Vernon-Wiliams and the proof of her love from the audience is her complete butchering of a musical number which still gets raucous applause! She's a comedic genius - ala Lucille Ball or Ethel Mertz!

Onto the young ones (most everyone else is!). Christopher Hanke makes the cute preppy boy, Baldwin, come alive - almost walking on air in those Sperry's. James Synder as Cry Baby, commands the stage in his Broadway debut. I'd love a pair of those painted on Jeans. Fierce! Dupree, a "what James Brown might have been like as a kid" character is played brilliantly by Chester Gregory II. Those shrill ooooh's and aaaahh's get you hootin' and hollerin' every time. Now there are too many ensemble names to mantion here, but this review would not be complete without a mention of the absolutely drop dead gorgeous, uber-talented dancing "bad boy" dancers - Marty Lawson, Charlie Sutton, and Spencer Liff!

Torrents of music - Lynne Shankel took command of the Orchestra from the pit right from the start. Plenty of toe-tapping, bob your head and clap your hands numbers, clever comedy, and no shortage of eye candy will keep the crowds entertained for a while. Swing on by and get your fill!