Hayes Theatre Co, the Potts Point’s gem that specialises in quirky musicals, has hit the mark again, with the Australian premiere of Cry-Baby. An energetic, exciting, exhilarating production that packs a mighty punch on the small intimate stage, Cry-Baby’s big cast of 14 talented actors compensate with insane running up and down the aisles, and utilising stage trapdoors; in a plethora of ways, it’s bursting at the seams with 50s panache.
Set in America in 1954, the musical Cry-Baby is based on the book from the writer of Hairspray and the cult classic movie that came out of Universal Studios in 1990, produced by camp master John Waters, starring Johnny Depp. Skilful choreography by Cameron Mitchells the show utilises the space beautifully, a harmonised score has live band accompaniment and songs range from soft love songs to rock numbers with memorable titles like Can I Kiss You With Tongue? – you’ll cringe at the filthy dirty tongue wrestling. Cupid Slipped A Mickey In My Polio Vaccine (And Interacted With My Heart), is a historical reference to a post war era that feared Communism, and the bleakness of gas masks, bomb shelters, an air raid alarm, war effort factories and an iron lung are parodied, adding to a richness in the layers of detail.
Cry-Baby is a teen rebel classic, similar to the musical Grease, featuring a romance between rockabilly bad boy, Wade ‘Cry-Baby’ Walker, (Christian Charisiou) from the wrong side of the tracks, ‘poorhouse pinko’, wild and bad, a ‘foster home run away’, from a ‘family of Commo pyromaniacs’ and Allison (Ashleigh Rubenach), a square naive rich girl, ‘in the 11th grade’, whose under the watchful eye of her grandmother, (Beth Daly), clearly the crowd favourite and standout best actor.
Add in some physical theatre exaggerated movements and comic timing, a dose of gender reversal, some well disguised doubling up of roles and above all, the Waters trademark, a stark visual contrast, between the pastel suited squares and the brightly coloured rebels, all stripes, patterns, dyed hair and attitude.
Until Aug 19. Hayes Theatre Company, 19 Greenknowe Ave, Potts Point. $69+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.hayestheatre.com.au
Reviewed by Mel Somerville.