Broadway Features and Reviews
John Waters Smashing Broadway?
By Eric Grundhauser, Broadway Magazine
As one of America's most controversial filmmakers, John Waters may seem an odd inspiration for the often family-friendly productions on modern Broadway. While many of Waters' films focus on the perverse corners of the American landscape, they all contain a unique visual style and theatrical tone, making them enticing candidates for the live stage.
Whether Waters is examining a trashy gross-out war as he did in "Pink Flamingos" (1974), or a homicidal soccer-mom and her bewildered children in "Serial Mom" (1992), he manages to populate his films with iconic characters in unforgettable, often unbelievable, positions. And no matter how outlandish the situation may be, Waters takes care to dress his worlds in bold visuals as though his characters are emoting through their very look on a stage as big as their worlds. Yet despite his transgressive reputation, the musical adaptation of his 1988 film "Hairspray" has become one of the most popular shows on Broadway, earning eight Tony awards and even spawning a second film based solely on the musical. Given this penchant for over-the-top storytelling, it's no surprise that producers have once again looked to Waters' campy canon by adapting his ready-made 1990 musical Cry-Baby.
Starring Johnny Depp, the film was a send-up of musical teen romps in which the titular bad boy falls in love with good girl Allison, much to the displeasure of those on both sides of the affair. As with many of Waters' films, Cry-Baby's unique fusion of heavy kitsch and inspired melodrama are tailor-made for the bold style of the stage. The retro-50's pastiche that defines the look of the film seems intentionally reminiscent of fellow Broadway resident "Grease", but as seen through Waters' daring lens the players are given a sharper subversive edge making the gangs seem more dangerous and the squares more strict.
It remains to be seen how this latest movie adaptation will fare under the bright lights of Broadway, but given his material's previous success it doesn't seem like John Waters will have any reason to cry.
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