CRY-BABY The Musical

Te Auaha - Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington

05/09/2019 - 14/09/2019

Production Details

NZ Premiere of Broadway show 

The full cohort of Whitireia’s Musical Theatre students are rehearsing their bobby socks off in preparation for New Zealand’s first ever season of Cry-Baby The Musical. Adapted from the John Waters film of the same name, the campy and wickedly subversive show will run for eight outrageous nights at Te Auaha – The NZ Institute of Creativity from 5-14 September.

Musical Director Kate Marshall says this show has it all. “Fabulous singing, big dance numbers and hilarious dialogue. Cry-Baby the Musical has one of the best rock-n-roll scores I’ve ever worked with. It’s a full-on non-stop toe tapping extravaganza”.

It’s 1954. Everybody likes Ike, nobody likes communism and the city of Baltimore is a topsy-turvy moral meritocracy. Enter star-crossed lovers Wade ‘Cry-Baby’ Walker – the coolest boy in Baltimore – and wealthy ingenue, Allison, who’s captivated by the bad-boy’s pouting pursuit of truth, justice and rock and roll. Fuelled by hormones and the new rhythms of popular music, Allison turns her back on her king-of-the-squares boyfriend Baldwin to become a ‘drape’, and Cry-Baby’s girl. The stage is set for a pitched battle between the squeaky-clean, close-harmony Squares and juvenile delinquent Drapes. 

This is a story straight from the mind of John Waters, the acid-witted king of kitsch behind cult-cinema classics Hairspray, Pink Flamingos and Serial Mom. The musical reimagining of Waters’ film boasts a sharp-tongued book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan (Hairspray), and insanely catchy songs such as ‘I’m Infected’ and ‘Girl, Can I Kiss You With Tongue?’ by Adam Schlesinger (That Thing You Do) and David Javerbaum (The Daily Show).

Premiering on Broadway in 2008, the show was the top choice for Marshall and the show’s director and choreographer Leigh Evans because of the way it would showcase the students’ talents. “Our production of Cry-Baby shows what ‘triple threats’ these young performers are,” says Marshall. “I am extremely proud of the cast for approaching the show with such professionalism, enthusiasm and a sense of adventure.”

Te Auaha – NZ Institute of Creativity, Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington
5-14 September 2019
7.30pm Weds-Sat, 4.30pm Sun
(No Shows Mon/Tues)

Theatre , Musical ,

Bonkers and brilliant

Review by Georgia Jamieson Emms 06th Sep 2019

From the magical opening number, an explosion of colour and cheesy smiles, Cry-Baby is irreverent, hilarious and exhausting to watch as the students of Te Auaha sing and dance like energiser bunnies and the audience weeps with laughter.

The programme describes Cry-Baby as Romeo and Juliet meets High School Hellcats; for me it’s Grease with even better songs and without the annoying earnestness. It is certainly one of the funniest satirical musicals out there. As silly as it is (picture Danny Zuko at the drive-in, but instead of ‘Sandy’he’s singing ‘Girl Can I Kiss You With Tongue’), the lyrics and book are extremely witty and the tunes toe-tappingly catchy.

While the set was relatively simple, a raised platform stage, small staircase and some scaffolding, no expense was spared on the costumes. Some performers had upwards of five costume changes. From the girls’ poodle skirts and frothy prom dresses to the custom jailhouse uniforms, the detail was astounding. Combined with Joshua Tucker’s lighting, it was visually gorgeous.

Cry-Baby Walker is a (misunderstood) bad boy who falls hard for good girl Allison. Their first duet, ‘I’m Infected’showcased the excellent, wide-ranging vocals of Matt Mulholland, oozing charisma as Cry-Baby, and Flora Dryburgh, perfectly cast as the reluctant debutante. Both of them are totally sympathetic, charming and funny. 

There is talent in spades coming out of Te Auaha and this is evident in the excellent supporting cast. Devon Neiman, irresistible as Allison’s flamboyant suitor, Baldwin, and Lane Corby, as adorably unhinged Lenora, are obvious audience favourites; it is a delight to see them duet in ‘All in My Head’.

Malea Nicholson, as Allison’s grandmother has the challenge of playing at least four decades older, has some of the funniest lines in the show and her ‘I Did Something Wrong Once’ is a highlight. Fipe Foai’s glorious voice and sweet moves are on display in ‘Jukebox Jamboree’. The trio of Moana Leota, Jade Thomson and Caitlin Penrose, the Andrews Sisters from hell, is absolutely show-stopping, belting in tight three-part harmony, each one a powerhouse singer in her own right.

Across the board, the singing and especially the ensemble singing is impressive and exciting, and every song with crystal-clear diction. Musical director Kate Marshall ensures the actors are supported at all times by a top-notch band.

Leigh Evans, director and choreographer, has done a fantastic job. It is clear from the slickness of the production that the students have been supported and guided by a highly skilled creative who has brought the best out in every performer. I can’t help thinking what an excellent choice of musical for a student production, where every cast member is radiating joy from being part of it.

The joy is infectious. Cry-Baby is bonkers and brilliant. 


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