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Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!

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Robert Taylor
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Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#1
Posted: 6/19/08 at 9:40am
XANADU

This was the first performance after the Tonys, and I wrangled myself a stage seat for the performance, which was my first. Before the show, I asked another person who had stage seats where to sit, and I ended up in the seat that got popcorn, slapped and a backrub. The show was phenomenally fun, and not just because I literally had the best seat in the house.

A word about the show's financial situation. Before the show I spoke with one of the ushers, who said the show had been on life support for some time and he didn't expect the house to be even half filled that night, and if things didn't turn around the show only had about a month left. I'm ecstatic to report that (perhaps because of the Tonys?) every seat in the Helen Hayes except for four were taken (and this was a TUESDAY), so hopefully that is a good sign about the future of this amazing little show.

The cast certainly had a lot of energy, and had Patti not been nominated...well...yeah, I wish Kerry would have won it. She embodies that role and is just so vivacious and phenomenal. The same can be said for Cheyenne's lovable lug. The supporting cast was top notch as well.

Like I said, this was the first time I'd seen the show...but the score was just amazing. The way the cast dug into the '80s hits and reinvented them was great, and the standout to me was "Evil Woman."

And in the middle of the show Jackie Hoffman randomly ad-libbed the following line (remember this was the performance after the Tonys): "This is a great show, right? Even if we aren't Jamaicans?" The applause after that lasted for over a minute.

The cast was phenomenally nice at the stage-door as well, if you take in the show you should definitely stay after.

Final thoughts? Get your butts down to the Helen Hayes now and get yourself a ticket. Xanadu is a beautiful, funny show that is not afraid to have fun at its own expense. Plus you may get a backrub.

CRY BABY

Let's get the nitty gritty out of the way first. My ticket was under $30 and it was third row. The balcony was nigh-empty and the orchestra was only half-full before the show began. The cast recording will not be released, according to the cast at the stage door, sorry, though a new recording MAY be made for the tour (and, considering how BIG the show and its sets are, I can see why they want to tour it instead of just scrapping it entirely).

And okay, the first act was notsogood. Perhaps some of it was that the audience was just NOT warming up to the material because the crowd was small, but the laughs were forced and the applause was small. And yet, I have to give the talented cast props for diving in and giving superb, vivacious performances despite the audience not really caring. Because that cast is phenomenal, from James Synder's great lead to Alli Mauzey and Carly Jibson's great supporting performances to the ensemble dancers. And, let's face it, the fact that "In the Heights" got the Tony over "Cry Baby" for choreography was an absolute slap in the face, because "Cry Baby" definitely deserved it.

Despite the rather tepid songs like "I'm Infected," "The Anti-Polio Picnic" and "Jukebox Jamboree," there were two showstoppers in the first act, specifically "Screw Loose" (which works a lot better live than on television) and "Girl, Can I Kiss You...?"

But when the curtain went down and the lights went up, the applause was not enthusiastic. About twenty-five people actually left, which really surprised me (unless their seats were comped). Most everyone moved down from the balcony.

And then a funny thing happened. The second act did not suck. Like, at all. The musical improved by leaps and bounds, and jokes suddenly hit their marks and, most importantly, the audience started to respond to the gags and clap after the songs. If the entire show was as great as the second act, my guess is that it would not be closing Sunday. I would begin to list the songs I liked, but looking back through my Playbill, I realized that I liked every single song in the second act, whereas I can't even remember the tune to at least four songs from the first act. And "A Little Upset"? By and far nine of the greatest minutes in theater from the past year. I was floored at how perfectly the song/dance/comedy meshed (especially because I was not impressed with it at the Tonys), but I was floored.

By the time the show ended, I had a big, stupid grin on my face and was standing and clapping despite myself. Yes, the first half was probably the worst thing I'd ever seen on Broadway (I've never seen something really mediocre before), but something happened in the second act that fixed all the problems of the first, and the show became something special.

At the stagedoor, the cast each took a few minutes to talk with everyone waiting (and it was a good 20 people). They were definitely proud of the show and made a point of talking about how heartbroken they were that it was closing and the album would not be released, but had a lot of hope for the tour. And I think that with a lot of tinkering to the first act (or, perhaps, a condensation to turn the show into a 90-minute one act) it could definitely be popular on tour.

Look, you've got until Sunday to see it. Is it worth over $100 bucks? Nope. But you can get great seats for $20 or $30, and it's a fun show with a great cast. Hell, sneak in at intermission, you'll think the show is great.
Updated On: 6/19/08 at 09:40 AM
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millie_dillmount
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#2
Posted: 6/19/08 at 9:43am
"I ended up in the seat that got popcorn, slapped and a backrub."

I sat in the popcorn seats for two shows, and it wasn't the same seat that got the slap/backrub. That was in the row behind the popcorn seats. Has this changed?
"We like to snark around here. Sometimes we actually talk about theater...but we try not to let that get in our way." - dramamama611
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Wanna Be A Foster
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#2
Posted: 6/19/08 at 9:53am
And, let's face it, the fact that "In the Heights" got the Tony over "Cry Baby" for choreography was an absolute slap in the face, because "Cry Baby" definitely deserved it.

Have you seen IN THE HEIGHTS?

Rob Ashford's choreography in CRY-BABY is really great during a lot of the musical numbers, but Andy Blakenbuehler's choreography for IN THE HEIGHTS is woven through the narrative all throughout the show, and assists in telling the story. Not to mention that Blakenbuehler's choreography is like nothing that has ever been seen on a Broadway stage. He integrates all forms of Latin dancing into a Broadway musical about the lives of Latin-Americans and gives the choreography a reason to be there. I can't say the same for Ashford.
"Winning a Tony this year is like winning Best Attendance in third grade: no one will care but the winner and their mom."
-Kad

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Robert Taylor
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#3
Posted: 6/19/08 at 9:58am
Yes, I have seen In The Heights, and I prefer the choreography in Cry Baby. Sorry, that's just how I feel, though I feel "In the Heights" is obviously a better show.

And the seat in Xanadu was directly behind the two front seats the actors sit in.
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Wanna Be A Foster
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#4
Posted: 6/19/08 at 10:06am
Robert Taylor, you don't need to apologize for your opinion. I just think people should realize that nowadays it takes more than creating great dances for musical numbers in musicals to be considered worthy of being labeled the "Best."

It was the same deal last year with Ashford. He offered some wonderful dances for CURTAINS, but Bill T. Jones offered something new in SPRING AWAKENING, and it helped tell the story, express the ways the characters were feeling, and as a result help move Broadway choreography in a new direction. I can see why a lot of people didn't warm to Jones' choreography, because it wasn't what many folks consider "choreography" from what they've seen in the past. But to many people, different is good, and if your choreography or musical staging is there for a purpose other than the fact that it happens to be a musical, you're a step ahead of traditionalists and are worthy of the label "Best."
"Winning a Tony this year is like winning Best Attendance in third grade: no one will care but the winner and their mom."
-Kad

"I have also met him in person, and I find him to be quite funny actually. Arrogant and often misinformed, but still funny."
-bjh2114 (on Michael Riedel)
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#5
Posted: 6/19/08 at 10:57am
Stomping, fist pumping, and kicking chairs... it is called a temper tantrum not choreography. Ok I am still upset about the Spring Awakening choreo.
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#6
Posted: 6/19/08 at 12:45pm
There was a huge crowd at the Xanadu matinee yesterday, so it looks like things are looking up for the show. And such a diverse audience as well--people of all ages! Definitely good to see.
A little swash, a bit of buckle - you'll love it more than bread.
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#7
Posted: 6/19/08 at 1:00pm
I think the best seats in the house for Xanadu are the two right in front of the stairs. So many things happen there, and the actors may even talk to you (Andre did). But I LOVE the show!
"He found something that he wanted, had always wanted and always would wantó not to be admired, as he had feared; not to be loved, as he had made himself believe; but to be necessary to people, to be indispensable." -F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#8
Posted: 6/19/08 at 1:04pm
"Stomping, fist pumping, and kicking chairs... it is called a temper tantrum not choreography. Ok I am still upset about the Spring Awakening choreo."

IMO the choreography for the show was brilliant.... not all choreography is " Jazz hands" and "pirouette's".
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#9
Posted: 6/19/08 at 1:05pm
thanks for the reviews!!!
"The good news is I have an excellent Tony speech. The bad news is I've had it for forty-five years."-Elaine Stritch
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#10
Posted: 6/19/08 at 1:24pm
So who thinks they are going to fix it before tour?
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#11
Posted: 6/19/08 at 2:57pm
"I ended up in the seat that got popcorn, slapped and a backrub."

I sat in the popcorn seats for two shows, and it wasn't the same seat that got the slap/backrub. That was in the row behind the popcorn seats. Has this changed?


Millie, depending on their mood, Mary and/or Jackie will offer popcorn to the people behind them, so it is possible to get the trifecta!


"Hey little girls, look at all the men in shiny shirts and no wives!" - Jackie Hoffman, Xanadu, 19 Feb 2008
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#12
Posted: 6/19/08 at 3:22pm
Jckie's improv was spot on! God I love her!
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#13
Posted: 6/19/08 at 3:28pm
jackie's improv wasnt about jamicans. it was "this is a greek show right? we're fun, but not as much fun as dominicans!"
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#14
Posted: 6/19/08 at 4:35pm
You guys are all wrong. It was "This is like a great show, right? We don't have to be like Dominican or anything...."

I was there the night after the Tonys.
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re: Cry-Baby and Xanadu Reviews!#15
Posted: 6/19/08 at 5:21pm
National tour sounds interesting...

Not a particularly good idea, but interesting.

I imagine it will go the way of The Wedding Singer- a non-equity tour with a condensed version of the show.