Hairspray's Meehan and O'Donnell to Pen Cry-Baby Book

News   Hairspray's Meehan and O'Donnell to Pen Cry-Baby Book The Tony-winning librettists of Hairspray — Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan — have joined the creative team of Cry-Baby, the second John Waters film headed for Broadway.
Thomas Meehan (L) and Mark O'Donnell after their win for Hairspray at the 2003 Tony Awards.
Thomas Meehan (L) and Mark O'Donnell after their win for Hairspray at the 2003 Tony Awards. Photo by Aubrey Reuben

Variety reports that the Tony-winning duo will pen the book for the new musical, which is being produced by Imagine chairman Brian Grazer and three Hairspray alums, Allan Gordon, Elan McAllister and Adam Epstein. The latter told the industry paper, "[O'Donnell and Meehan] understand the Waters milieu. It could be a lovely companion piece to Hairspray, but different."

Writer O'Donnell added, "If Hairspray is 'Cinderella,' then Cry-Baby is Romeo & Juliet." O'Donnell also said that elements of the film will have to be rethought for its Broadway bow: "The helicopter rescue and the chicken race with all those cars would be difficult to stage in the theatre."

It's an especially busy time for Tony Award winner Meehan, who wrote the books for Mel Brooks' The Producers and the long-running Annie. He is currently at work revising the book for the upcoming Andrew Lloyd Webber-produced musical Bombay Dreams and is also working with Sylvester Stallone on a stage musical version of Rocky. He told Variety that both Cry-Baby and Rocky are in the "embryonic stage." Though in its early stages, the announcement of a Cry-Baby director, composer and lyricist are expected shortly.

The 1990 film "Cry-Baby" cast Johnny Depp in the title role of a motorcycle riding "bad boy" who falls for a debutante named Allison, who has tired of being a "good girl." The cast featured Amy Locane as Allison, Susan Tyrrell as Ramona Rickettes, Polly Bergen as Mrs. Vernon-Williams, Iggy Pop as Uncle Belvedere Rickettes, former porn star Traci Lords as Wanda Woodward and original "Hairspray" Tracy Turnblad, Ricki Lake, as Pepper Walker.

About the property, Grazer recently told Variety, "I always loved that movie, the work experience with John and Johnny Depp, but seven people saw it. I was left feeling it was a movie better suited as a musical." John Waters added, "'Hairspray' was a story about race; 'Cry-Baby' is a story about class. The only thing I will insist on, as I did with Hairspray, is that I be the Grease police. This can't be Grease; it happened way before. The period is pre-Elvis, and the music was rockabilly. It is strong and it is sexy."