It comes from the same team that produced the premiere of Marriage Á La Mode earlier this summer, led by resident producer Andrew Wright with direction by Grace Taylor (Six: The Musical), musical direction by Inga Davis-Rutter (Starting Here, Starting Now) and choreography by Jessica Knight (Saturday Night Fever).
Andrew sets the scene: “It’s 1954. Everyone likes Ike, nobody likes communism, and Wade ‘Cry-Baby’ Walker is the coolest boy in Baltimore. He’s a bad boy with a good cause – truth, justice and the pursuit of rock and roll. Cry-Baby and the square rich girl Allison are star-crossed lovers at the centre of this world. Fuelled by hormones and the new rhythms of rock and roll, she turns her back on her squeaky-clean boyfriend Baldwin to become a drape (a Baltimore juvenile delinquent) and Cry-Baby’s moll.
“At the other end of the topsy-turvy moral meritocracy of 1954 America, Baldwin as the king of the squares leads his close-harmony pals against the juvenile delinquents, who are ultimately arrested for arson, sending the drapes all off to prison. It’s Romeo and Juliet meets High School Hellcats.”
Andrew added: “Filled with unforgettable songs and a truly unique and fresh story, from the book writers of Hairspray, Cry-Baby is a brilliantly enjoyable, rebellious teen comedy event.”
Current second year Ryan Bartholomew, who is playing the lead role of Wade ‘Cry-Baby’ Walker, said: “Words cannot describe the feeling of looking at the cast list and seeing that I had been chosen to play the role of Cry-Baby.
“With the help of a very supportive cast and creative team, I have been able to immerse myself in a new genre of musical theatre.
“Myself and my fellow cast members are putting a lot of energy and commitment to allow the audience an insight into the city of Baltimore in the 1950s. This is my first leading role at the university and I am so grateful to my course and the professional creative team for the opportunities that have been provided for me. After not being able to put a production in front of a live audience for so long, due to Covid-19, I couldn’t be more excited!”
Producer Andrew added: “The January lockdown was, from the perspective of this production, a blessing in disguise. If we had staged and presented the show in January, we would’ve had to record and stream the performances.
“As it turns out, we are in a really different position with regard to Covid restrictions and audiences attending entertainment events now, which means we can have a live audience for each of the four performances.”
Cry-Baby performs a sold-out run at The Assembly Theatre, Bognor Regis Campus, PO21 1HR on July 29, 30 and 31.