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Cry-Baby

Get tickets to this rollicking rock’n’roll romp from the minds that brought Hairspray to Broadway!

Alli Mauzey

 

Age: “As Lenora would say, ‘It's hard to be 16 and schitzo.'”

Hometown: The O.C.: Anaheim Hills, California

Currently: Originating the role of lovable lunatic Lenora, a drapette who lusts for hunky Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker in the Broadway musical adaptation of John Waters' cult flick Cry-Baby.

It Started with a Cupcake: “Have you ever had a Magnolia Bakery cupcake?” Mauzey asks lustfully from a chair in her Marquis Theatre dressing room. “They make my mouth waaater,” she coos, explaining how she taps into her inner stalker. “I think Lenora might feel the same way about Cry-Baby, like she can just think about him and start salivating. So I like using that.” It's hard to imagine this laid-back California girl being anything like the mildly schizophrenic delinquent she plays onstage, which may be why she never planned to try for the role. “I came into town to audition for a different show, and my agent was like, ‘Why don't you go across the hall and audition for Cry-Baby while you're at it?'” With only a brief character description to guide her and little time to prepare, Mauzey thought fast—and came up with the image of that cupcake. It worked, landing the petite brunette the part and critical acclaim during Cry-Baby's pre-Broadway run at La Jolla Playhouse.

A Reluctant Star: A “super super shy” child, Mauzey fell into performing almost reluctantly. “I wasn't that kid who knew at a young age,” she says now, adding that her mother discovered her vocal talents. “She used to want me to sing for people and it scared the crap outta me!” Mauzey recalls. “I would only do it if I could go in the closet [and] shut the door. So I'd sing in the closet.” But she stresses that mom was no Momma Rose. “Part of it was she really wanted me to break out of my shell,” the actress says, which she did slowly by performing in local and high school productions. But when it came time for college and her parents suggested acting, the budding star hesitated again. “I wanted to be a professional soccer player. My mom and I would butt heads like crazy. She was like, ‘No, there isn't really a career in soccer!' And I'm thinking, ‘There's not necessarily a career in acting!'”

The Replacements: In the end, there was a career in acting: Mauzey graduated from NYU's competitive drama program and quickly made her Broadway debut as a replacement Brenda in Hairspray. “It was everything I thought it would be,” she says of her debut. “I remember working hard to learn all my stuff before I went on that first night because I just wanted to be able to enjoy it. And I really was able to enjoy it.” After a stint in the Hairspray national tour and several West Coast gigs, Mauzey was tapped as Glinda's standby in the Broadway company of Wicked.

Life on Standby: “I loved working on that role,” Mauzey gushes of Wicked's bubbly blonde witch. “When I started singing I had a classical background, so to get to play a role like Glinda where it's a really fun character but she sings all these wonderful high notes—that's like a dream for me.” A standby's life could be surreal, however. “One time, I hadn't been on in like a month, and I came down in the bubble and started to sing. And I look over and there's a girl onstage I've never met before,” Mauzey says with a laugh. “It took everything in me to stay focused because I was like, ‘Who is that?!' That's how it was for me there—I didn't have to be there all that often, so I focused on making sure I got out of the way of the scenery.”

Finally An Original: After years of stepping into roles, Mauzey loves building Lenora from scratch. “It's nice because I had a full-on rehearsal process,” she says, “and they were great about letting me come up with whatever!” Like Lenora's eerie habit of talking to herself? “One day in rehearsal I just started talking to somebody and they weren't there—it kind of worked and I kept it.” Mauzey has also been careful to make her Lenora different from the one film fans saw in the movie. “I stayed away from the stereotypical vixen,” she explains of her portrayal. “I go back to thinking like a true high schooler. I wouldn't necessarily be good at throwing myself at a man at 16, so there's something awkward and not perfect about it. My Lenora's not real smooth.”

W.W.J.D.? While Cry-Baby Walker may not love Lenora, the man who created them both, John Waters, certainly does. “He says he relates to my character the most,” Mauzey says. “I have a song called ‘Screw Loose,' and he says that could be his anthem or a song sung at his funeral! So whenever I'm thinking of new things to try, I go, ‘What would John do?'” she jokes. The actress also owes the filmmaker a debt of gratitude. “John hooked me up with my manager. I was thanking him one day, and he said, ‘Well, I'm your pimp.'” Mauzey begins laughing. “Not many people can say ‘John Waters is my pimp,' but I can. He said it, from his lips!”

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