Move over Tracy Turnblad. Make way for Cry-Baby.
John Waters, who saw his fat Bawlamer teen-age heroine become the toast of Broadway in Hairspray, is now poised to see his archetypal Bawlamer "drape," aka, a ducktail-coiffed juvenile delinquent nicknamed "Cry-Baby," take center stage in a new Broadway musical based on his 1990 movie.
Cry-Baby - which, like Hairspray, is a movie musical - is a logical choice for Broadway, Waters said yesterday. "It's an all-singing, all-talking class-warfare romantic musical - how's that for a pitch?"
Set in 1954 Baltimore, the PG-13 movie starred Johnny Depp in the title role as a rockabilly-singing drape who falls for a "square" girl (Amy Locane) from the right side of the tracks.
Commenting on the movie's suitability for the Broadway stage, Adam Epstein, who instigated the project and will serve as the musical's lead producer, explained, "The great thing about Cry-Baby is the music, in the sense that it is really a clash of musical cultures. It's 1954, the pre-Elvis rockabilly and rock 'n' roll sound competing against the older generation's distaste for rock 'n' roll and taste for more big band, contemporary music. That can play itself very interestingly, as the movie did, as a Broadway musical canvas which has sort of shaped our musical world."
Epstein's Broadway credits include co-producing the Tony Award-winning Hairspray and the 2002 revival of The Crucible with Margo Lion (who is not involved in the musical of Cry-Baby). The 28-year-old producer first approached Waters about Cry-Baby at a Christmas party given by one of the Hair- spray cast members.
"I said, `Oh, John, it just has all the perfect makings of a perfect musical comedy, and he said, `Let's do it,'" recalled Epstein, who has enlisted co-producers Allan S. Gordon and Elan C. McAllister, with whom he worked on Hairspray and The Crucible, as well as Academy Award-winner Brian Grazer, chairman of Imagine Entertainment and producer of the Cry-Baby movie.
The creative team for the Broadway musical has not yet been chosen, although Waters will repeat his Hairspray role as consultant, or as Epstein puts it, the musical's "creative conscience." The producer said he envisions the musical making it to Broadway in the next two to four years.
As to the continuing appeal of the underlying class issues explored in Cry-Baby, Waters said, "I always think that, secretly, rich people find poor people cuter and poor people find rich people cuter." The Baltimore filmmaker expects to begin shooting his next movie, A Dirty Shame, a comedy about sexual addiction, in the Harford Road area in September.