Top-tier team targets B’way with ‘Cry-Baby’

Waters pic gets tuner treatment; prod'n to land in 2 years

Imagine chairman Brian Grazer is ready for his Broadway debut. Grazer and the producing team behind the Tony-winning “Hairspray” will turn the 1990 John Waters film “Cry-Baby” into a Broadway-bound stage musical.

Grazer will produce with “Hairspray” stage alums Adam Epstein, Allan Gordon and Elan McAllister. Waters will once again influence the book and score. A search is on for writers, with hopes to have the musical onstage in two years.

Wrapped in a rockabilly setting, “Cry-Baby” told the story of a bad boy who falls in love with a debutante. Waters tapped Johnny Depp as the bad-boy rockabilly singer, and put porn princess Traci Lords in the first film role that allowed her to remain upright, and wrote such colorful characters as a female tough named Hatchet Face. Along with a book, all new songs will be written for the musical.

Grazer produced the screen incarnation of “Cry-Baby” and has always been irked that it’s never found an audience. He’s made musical overtures before, and jumped when the success of “Hairspray” made film-to-stage transformations palatable to investors. Grazer and Epstein said they’ve got plenty of investors ready to seed the stage production.

“I always loved that movie, the work experience with John and Johnny Depp, but seven people saw it,” Grazer said. “I was left feeling it was a movie better suited as a musical.”

Epstein, a 28-year-old dynamo who also produced revivals of “The Crucible” and “Amadeus,” was also eager for an encore with Waters. The director agreed to bring them together on what he feels is a more logical stage adaptation than was “Hairspray.”

Waters will soon release a director’s cut of “Cry-Baby” on DVD.

Class act

” ‘Hairspray’ was a story about race; ‘Cry-Baby’ is a story about class,” Waters said. “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.”

Deal comes as four Grazer-produced pics near theatrical release: “Intolerable Cruelty”; the Ron Howard-directed “The Missing”; the Mike Myers starrer “Cat in the Hat”; and “The Alamo.”

Grazer’s also prepping the Howard-directed Russell Crowe-Renee Zellweger pic “Cinderella Man” and the Jim Carrey-Cameron Diaz comedy “Fun With Dick and Jane,” and Imagine’s TV division has three new series headed for fall preems.

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