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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
CRY BABY
at the Marquis

HIGH AND LOW
By JESSICA BRANCH

  James Snyder & Elizabeth Stanley/PH:Sara Krulwich

The latest affable Broadway-safe version of a John Water's film, Cry Baby, lacks the edge of any of the Baltimore auteur's cinematic efforts, nor does it have the sheer goofy good spirits of its precursor Hairspry (or its super-sharp, if sanitized, book). But those are high bars for any musical to vault. And on its own merits, Cry Baby is a charming, if inconsequential trifle, which offers a few giggles, a couple of really rip-roaringly funny numbers, and most notably, some of the season's most energetic and effective dancing.

The plot is simple - set in 1950s Baltimore, it pits the conservative upper-class kids at the country club against the delinquent Drapes, a scroungy lot of rebels led by dashing young Crybaby (James Snyder), an aspiring musician with an understandable chip on his shoulder ever since his pacifist parents were wrongfully put to death for arson. Allison (Elizabeth Stanley ), the granddaughter of the country club doyenne (Harriet Harris) falls for him hard, and as she trails along after the Drapes, the country-club straight-edge set show unexpected deviousness and cunning as they maneuver to get her back.

Broadway newcomer Snyder is adequately brash and goodlooking, while Stanley, who suffers from inferior material for her goody-goody role, nonetheless shows off more talent. But it's the supporting cast, free of the burden of having to carry the love interest, who steal the show. Harris as the straitlaced grandmother with a dreadful secret in her past, manages to combine propriety with a sneaking sense of humanity - and great comic timing. The Drapes revel in their delinquency, and their upper-caste opponents in their square smugness, but Alli Mauzey, as the insane stalker Lenora whose set her sights on Crybaby, uses her strong voice to great effect in some of the show's funniest, most irreverent numbers - songs that hearken back to the liberating powers Waters saw in sheer craziness.

 


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