To See or Not to See: Cruel Intentions: The Musical
The deliciously pulpy movie, Cruel Intentions, has made its way to the stage…and it’s so much fun to watch. For those not familiar with the cult classic movie starring Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, and Sarah Michelle Gellar, this stage version may seem a little too quick; however, for those who are familiar with it are in for a treat.
Sebastian Valmont (Constantine Rousouli) and his step-sister Kathryn (Lauren Zakrin) are infamous on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Kathryn, seemingly an all-star student at their prep school, is a sexually free, tempestuous girl bent on getting revenge on her ex-boyfriend who has fallen for an innocent younger classmate named Cecile Caldwell (Jessie Shelton); Cecile, in turn, has fallen for her music tutor Ronald (Matthew Griffin). Kathryn enlists Sebastian, a bored lothario, to help her ruin Cecile’s reputation. To make things even more exciting for them, they make a bet that includes the new headmaster’s daughter, virginal Annette Hargrove (Carrie St. Louis).
Lindsey Rosin and Jordan Ross have adapted the sexual and emotional exploits of these high schoolers from film to stage by way of amazing, nostalgia-inducing pop songs from the 90s. From Jewel to the Backstreet Boys to No Doubt, there is at least one hit song that you’ll be singing along to. There are a few songs in particular that are brilliantly used in the plot; one such song is “Kiss Me” when Kathryn is teaching Cecile how to kiss (a scene from the film that audiences should remember well).
Using the bulk of the space around Le Poisson Rouge, the space where Cruel Intentions is playing, the cast members weave their way through the audience, making it a more interactive experience than a traditional show. When the cast is not out in the audience, they are on stage with, essentially, a really good cover band.
The cast members themselves all capture their characters really well. They play up the similarities to the film’s cast while also putting their own spin on them in delightful ways. A particularly entertaining couple to watch was Blaine (played wonderfully by Alex Boniello) and Greg (Brian Mueller). Along with Jessie Shelton (Cecile), Boniello and Mueller brought much-appreciated moments of hilarity. They were all the perfect blend of campy and earnestness. Additionally, Carrie St. Louis and Lauren Zakrin have beautiful voices that really excel in their solo songs. And, we’d be remiss not to mention the casting of Patricia Richardson as Cecile’s mother; it’s yet another nod to delightful 90s pop culture.
All in all, Cruel Intentions will have you singing along from your seat, cheering for your favorite film scenes brought to life in front of you, and you’ll leave wanting to see it again and again.
Cruel Intentions is playing at Le Poisson Rouge. For more information and tickets, click here.
Photo Credit: Jenny Anderson