Shed No Tears for This “Cry-Baby”


Here’s the supporting-cast list for John Waters’ 1990 movie “Cry-Baby”: Polly Bergen darling, former porn queen Traci Lords, Kim McGuire (as a spectacularly ugly girl called Hatchet-Face), Susan Tyrrell, Ricki Lake, Iggy Pop, Troy Donahue, Joey Hetherton, Joe Dallesandro, David Nelson, and celebrity ex-con Patty Hearst. So, for those of you who’ve never seen the picture, aren’t you just d-d-d-drooling to rush out and rent the DVD? Unfortunately, the movie, set in Baltimore in 1954, doesn’t live up to the promise of its singularly eclectic ensemble. The movie involves a group of delinquents known as “the drapes,” whose leader is a handsome rock and roller known as Cry-Baby (Johnny Depp), versus “the squares,” represented by just about everybody else in town. Cry-Baby, a sensitive sort (he lost both his parents to the electric chair), falls in love with a square girl, Allison (Amy Locane), and the film follows the agonies of their Forbidden Love. “Cry-Baby” is lesser Waters, which, if you follow the rule that the-worse-the-film-the-better-the-remake-or-adaptation, means that it’s ripe for translation to the stage. Unfortunately, there’s that little other Waters-inspired show called “Hairspray” to which the “Cry-Baby” musical, which has just opened at the La Jolla Playhouse prior to Broadway, is bound to be compared. (The young leads are James Snyder and Elizabeth Stanley, who are pictured here.) Well, banish the thought that “Cry-Baby” will be to “Hairspray” as “Young Frankenstein” is to “The Producers,” because the “Cry-Baby” musical is getting pretty positive reviews. This new Variety notice pretty well encapsulates the critical consensus: the book is witty as hell, the choreography (especially an all-male prison number) is kinetic, and the cast is having a ball. Reviewers also seem to think the show lacks heart. If the goddam stagehands’ strike is ever settled, Broadway theatregoers will have a chance to make up their minds sometime in 2008.

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