Rock ‘n’ roll rebellion in WAAPA’s Cry Baby
CRY Baby is very much a text-driven musical and director Chris Parker is enjoying his time at the steering wheel.
The Melbourne creative graduated from WAAPA’s music theatre course in 2000 and has forged a career directing productions including Avenue Q, Georgy Girl, The Bodyguard, Les Miserables and Oklahoma!.
Later this month he will return home to direct Anthony Warlow in the 25th anniversary concert of Jekyll and Hyde but he is currently back where it all started, in the WAAPA rehearsal room with the second year music theatre students.
Based on John Waters’ (Hairspray) 1990 cult-classic film of the same name starring Johnny Depp, Cry Baby is a rebellious rock ’n’ roll teen comedy about 1950s bad boy Wade ‘Cry Baby’ Walker and his good-girl love Allison.
“It’s an interesting musical because it’s very intelligent and quite dark actually,” Parker said.
“The fun is in really poking at the audience’s sense of security within a musical.
“I think when an audience comes to see a musical they expect, to some degree, to have a pleasant night that isn’t too challenging, where they can enjoy the costumes and choreography and they are there to be entertained.
“This show pushes back against that a little bit and forces the audience to think. You really have to chase the lyric, a bit like in The Book of Mormon.”
Parker said there was irony in the music and lyrics by David Javerbaum and Adam Schlesinger, which looked at conservative middle class existence.
“It really questions the rules and systems we’ve set up in order to serve us and whether or not they serve everyone or just the privileged,” the father of two said.
“I think that plays nicely into a musical because ultimately music theatre is a privileged art form. It takes a lot of money to make it and a lot of training to do it.
“It’s not something as easily accessible in a way, certainly to an audience with its usual high ticket price.”
Parker said the musical was more pointed than the film, which was presented visually and more open to interpretation.
“The musical clearly points a finger at its opinions and I appreciate the boldness,” he said.
“I think that’s what the students have found most challenging, in that the musical is extremely opinionated and that’s not necessarily celebrated.
“It’s forcing them to stand on their own two feet and doesn’t allow them to be passive and I think that’s fantastic.
“It really pushes them up to the line and forces them to understand the bigger picture of the show.”
What: Cry Baby
Where: Roundhouse Theatre, WAAPA
When: October 12 to 19
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