Fast & Funny “Cry Baby”; Viewer Discretion Advised

Theatre Kraken’s “Cry Baby” will guarantee that you have a fantastic evening. You need to see this fast paced and funny musical. You are also warned that viewer discretion is advised if you are taking younger folk to see it.

“Cry-Baby” originally was a 1990 American teen musical romantic comedy film written and directed by John Waters. It was the only film of Waters’ over which studios were in a bidding war, coming off the heels of the successful Hairspray.

The story centers on a group of delinquents who refer to themselves as “drapes” and their interaction with the rest of the town and its other subculture, the “squares”, in 1950s Baltimore, Maryland. “Cry-Baby” Walker, a drape, and Allison, a square, create upheaval and turmoil in their little town of Baltimore by breaking the subculture taboos and falling in love. It shows what the young couple has to overcome to be together and how their actions affect the rest of the town.

The film did not achieve high audience numbers in its initial release, but subsequently became a cult classic and spawned a Broadway musical of the same name which was nominated for four Tony Awards. Theatre Kraken decided to present this not often performed musical in Ottawa.

I loved this production directed by Don Fex, musically directed by Chris Lucas, and choreo by Brenda Solman. It is lively, fast-paced, funny, and well executed in every aspect. Anyone involved is in a full work out for the run of the show.

Nic Amott and Emma Woodside perform with excellence as the love interest. Both are experienced actor who throw themselves in their roles. They keep playing the edge of good girl vs bad boy so well – as star crossed lovers.

Special call out to Samantha De Benedet who portraits a really disturbed character with such conviction. In addition, Christine Drew as Mrs Vernon-Williams had the biggest audience applause for her heart wrenching performance.

I loved the flawless performances of the Whiffles; Kenny Hayes, Ian McMullen, Carley Richards, and Cameron Wales. They took the “square” look to a beautiful extreme hyperbole.

Lawrence Evenchick is a solid actor in his various roles on stage. It is always a pleasure to see him on-stage.  Axandre Lemours has a wonderful voice and want to see more of him in other shows.

The three “drape” girls were a delight in their presence; Steph Goodwin, Alianne Rozon, Abbey Flocton. Loved, loved, loved, their presence. Never out of character – they were awesome.

Now a special note to the ensemble. I really appreciate that they maintained an interesting backgound to the front of stage action. Always engaged and supportive.

Lighting by Cameron Macdonald was exciting and costumes by Maureen Russell were 50′ s inspirationally stupendous. Thank you to sound designer Jason Sonier for keeping a great balance between voices and orchestra.

Now the viewer discretion part. It is not the 24 songs that contain such references such as “Can I kiss you with tongue,” that are the issue. I attended with a 20 something colleague. As someone who grew up in that era, I needed to explain why the anti-polio picnic, air raid sirens in stereo, and fashionable gas masks were funny but important to the era.  So be prepared to explain historical reference.

Please, please go see this show for a fabulous rockabilly time. “Cry Baby” continues at The Gladstone. 


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