One of the joys of theater can be the element of surprise. It is going into a new musical with minimal expectations, only to be pleasantly surprised to find that the show is genuinely entertaining. That happened when I saw Cry Baby, the new musical based on the John Waters cult movie (which starred Johnny Depp). I thoroughly enjoyed the Broadway Cry Baby. It is by no means a great musical, and it certainly doesnâ€™t break any new ground, but I had a smile on my face through most of the evening. While Cry Baby doesnâ€™t have the show-stopping excitement or emotional pull of Hairspray, the hit Broadway musical also based on a Waters film, I found it to be far superior to other Broadway movie adaptations such as High Fidelity and The Wedding Singer, and better than the likable but uneven Legally Blonde, which has been running for over a year now. I liked Cry Babyâ€™s irreverence, which can be expected given the Waters source material; I found the score to be a good one; and Rob Ashfordâ€™s choreography, which Iâ€™ll talk more about, was particularly noteworthy. Cry Baby takes place in Baltimore (as do many of Watersâ€™s movies) in 1954. While Hairspray deals with race, Cry Babyâ€™s subject matter is class. In the musical, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks, the title character, falls for the debutante, who hangs out with the clean-cut â€œsquares.â€ The musical also features differing musical styles reflective of the two groups, with Cry-Baby and his friendsâ€™ numbers representing the emerging â€˜50s rock â€˜nâ€™ roll scene. The two musical styles square off in the showâ€™s climactic scene, which also serves to further amplify the class themes. The showâ€™s satire tends to be fairly gentle; I would have liked Cry Baby to be edgier and to have even more bite. I did get a kick out of many of the â€˜50s references, and there were plenty of laughs and chuckles throughout the show. Cry Babyâ€™s attitude and inventiveness are very much reflected by a song title like â€œGirl, Can I Kiss You With Tongueâ€ and by a dance number set at a cotillion, with the performers wearing tuxedos, prom dresses, and gas masks! As Iâ€™ve mentioned, I liked the score written by Broadway newcomers David Javerbaum , who is executive producer of The Daily Show, and Adam Schlesinger, a member of the bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy and an Academy Award-nominated composer of the song â€œThat Thing You Do!â€ While none of the songs are instantly memorable, a number of them made good first impressions, and many of the lyrics were genuinely witty. The cast worked hard and delivered some strong performances. As Cry-Baby, James Snyder was fine. Heâ€™s no Johnny Depp, and perhaps he could have a bit more charisma and charm, but his singing and dancing are strong and he turns in a solid performance. I loved Harriet Harris, who plays the debutanteâ€™s grandmother. She can make me laugh just with her style and delivery. While not a true singer, she puts across her big number, â€œI Did Something Wrong,â€ quite effectively. Christopher Hanke came on strong in Act Two as the nerdy and self-absorbed Baldwin, one of the â€œsquares,â€ and Alli Mauzey does some delightful work as the crazed Lenora, the Cry-Baby groupie. The fantasy number that Hanke and Mauzey perform in Act Two, â€œAll in My Mind,â€ is a real charmer. I found Elizabeth Stanley to be winning as the leading lady, Allison, properly conveying both her privileged background as well as the confusion that results after she eventually explores her more dangerous side and falls for Cry-Baby. Clearly the highlight of the show is Rob Ashfordâ€™s energetic, acrobatic, and muscular choreography. This is a heavy dancing show, maybe the best weâ€™ve seen on Broadway since Movinâ€™ Out. There is a lot of jitterbug and even some tap, and the extended Act Two scene, starting with a jailhouse number and evolving into an escape and chase scene, is simply terrific. Cry Babyâ€™s closing number, â€œNothing Badâ€™s Ever Gonna Happen Again,â€ is reminiscent of Hairsprayâ€™s finale, â€œYou Canâ€™t Stop the Beat.â€ While it lacks â€œBeatâ€™sâ€ infectious melody and doesnâ€™t send you out of the theater on the same giddy high as â€œBeatâ€ did, it still brings Cry Baby to a winning and satisfying conclusion. I wish the show well. Sure, it could have more emotional weight and could have sharpened and fine-tuned its tone a bit more; but it worked for me. Iâ€™m glad I gave Cry Baby a chance. Hopefully, others will do so and, like me, find themselves glad they did. - James Miller Mr. Miller is a former Showtime exec who has spent many an evening transfixed by the bright lights of Broadway and Off-Broadway.