“Cry Baby”: class, war and a few kisses with tongue

Gwen Zhen, Contributing Reporter

Dozens lined up for polio shots at Eldred Theater between Feb. 14 and Feb. 23 to catch a glimpse of the moment Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker, the “bad boy” played by fourth-year student Tony Monczewski, first caught the eye of “good girl” Allison Vernon-Williams, played by second-year student Savannah Walters in “Cry-Baby,” the 2007 musical with book written by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan, music by David Javerbaum and lyrics by Adam Schlesinger. 

In the witty portrayal of two rebellious teenagers in love directed by David Vegh, not even Allison’s grandmother, Mrs. Vernon-Williams, played by fourth-year student Harper Case, could keep the two apart as they sneak off into Wade’s “secret, special place.” While there, Allison, feeling the best she’s ever felt, politely refuses the Robitussin cough syrup that Wade offered to her, and it isn’t long till Wade finally asks Allison if he could “kiss her with tongue.” And, as any pair in love would do, they kissed with a lot of tongue. 

The moonlight ricocheting off the metal scraps in the junkyard enchants the couple to the point where they don’t notice Wade’s obsessive and literally insane lover Lenora Frigid, played by fourth-year student Tatjana Vujovic, as she spies on them from behind a floating tree branch. Meanwhile, Allison’s high-class pursuer Baldwin Blandish, played by third-year student Devin Knott, frames Wade for setting fire to Turkey Point, the hangout spot of Wade’s crew, thus halting Wade and Allison’s flowering romance.

It seems like arson runs through Baldwin’s blood, as his parents framed Wade’s parents for setting their factory on fire, as revealed by Mrs. Vernon-Williams. In trying to hide their fraudulent sale of falsely advertised boots during the war, Baldwin’s parents set their own factory on fire to cover their tracks.

In wartime and in peacetime, the justice system is monopolized by class and power. Even though Wade was eventually found innocent, it was only through the confession of Mrs. Vernon-Williams, a woman of high status, that he was able to avoid his prison sentence. Wade and his friends’ fates, in many ways, were predetermined from the moment they stepped foot on stage. 

Until the very end, despite Walker’s ultimate “restoration of his family’s honor,” he was chained to a system controlled by people of high status. Judge Stone, played by fourth-year student Richard Pannullo, served a major role in the dramatic portrayal of how people of high status can easily sway from one decision to another without having to consider the consequences of their actions. The large judge’s bench also elevated him above all those who were on trial, which emphasized the constant presence of a looming judicial system.


Even with the strong emphasis on problems such as class struggle and social injustice, the musical managed to leave most audience members with a smile on their face, thanks to its witty and humorous depictions of the power of teenage love. 

“This was the first musical I’ve been to,” said first-year student, Stephanie Kwok. “I don’t know what I was expecting, but I couldn’t stop laughing.”

Thus, the sound of belly laughs, cackles and chortles overlapped as the ongoing class war, with a dash of teenage rebellious love, flooded, and then just as quickly dissipated from, the Eldred stage.