STAGE REVIEW

Cry-Baby

James Snyder and Elizabeth Stanley
James Snyder and Elizabeth Stanley

On the surface, this new tuner from the John Waters factory has a lot in common with the last one. You know, that irresistible show about a portly Baltimore girl's desire to become a TV dance star? It has the same book writers (Thomas Meehan and Mark O'Donnell), high-energy dance-offs that would give Carrie Ann Inaba hot flashes, and even an onstage stint in juvie for its young do-rights and do-wrongs (the Squares and the Drapes, in this case). But where you couldn't stop Hairspray's beat, it definitely skips in Mark Brokaw's occasionally clever but mostly forgettable production. The bright moments (like the clever lyric wordplay, courtesy of The Daily Show's David Javerbaum and Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger) are blunted by the production's lack of focus; it hurtles along so steadfastly from one number to the next that nothing sticks. James Snyder and Elizabeth Stanley — as the title character and his good-girl-who-wants-to-be-bad — are appealing enough (if a bit too lukewarm to fulfill the requisite Waters delirium), and Alli Mauzey all but steals the show as Cry-Baby's squeaky, unhinged, never-to-be stalker. Only when the show's unmatchable dance ensemble puts the moves on — Rob Ashford provided the dazzling choreography, which even finds a thoroughly original use for license plates — does Cry-Baby prove that there's a still a bit of fizz left in the old Hairspray can. (Tickets: Ticketmaster.com or 212-307-4100) B-

Originally posted May 12, 2008
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