Whether you’ve devoured ‘Les Liasons Dangereuses’ from cover to cover or just seen the iconic 90’s teen flick, if you’re a millennial, ‘Cruel Intentions’ will have certainly made its mark on you. The darkly funny and seductive musical adaptation of the film more than lives up to the movie that came before it.
Firstly, the venue is perfect for this sort of show. The Palais du Variete at Assembly Square Gardens had the show set in a thrust style, with the set consisting of two chaise lounges. I grabbed a seat in one of the booths that line the outer circle of the venue. As the lights go down, the cast mingle around, coming to stop and stare at various audience members, casting judging stares.
I’m usually a little reserved when it comes to musical adaptations of movies – ‘Heathers’ and ‘Mean Girls’ have forced me into the thought process of ‘do we really need another one of these?’ The music of ‘Cruel Intentions’ is entirely jukebox, with ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and ‘Kiss Me’ making appearances. The show is its best when it leans into its overindulgence and cheesiness. At one point, Blaine (Scott Hunter) and Greg (Dean John-Wilson), who are involved in a secret gay relationship, dance through their messy breakup to ‘Bye Bye Bye’ – and the audience goes crazy for it. The two are an incredible pair on stage, getting whoops and laughs in every scene they appear.
The cast is extremely strong, with tight vocals as well as incredible comic timing. Dominic Andersen emulates Ryan Phillipe’s original Sebastian Valmont perfectly, and Evelyn Hoskins is perfectly charming as Cecile. Her duet of Breakfast at Tiffany’s with cello tutor Ronald (Ashley Samuels) is a particular highlight, as is Samuels’ fight with Cecile’s mother Bunny (Gemma Slater) – told through TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’. Kathryn (Rebecca Gilhooley) balances the sexiness and the evil of her character very well, and has a powerhouse of a voice. Annette (Sophie Issacs) is also a very talented performer, however appears as quite a mature presence on stage and therefore doesn’t come across as very believable in her role as a young virgin. This is perhaps hurt a little by the choreography in ‘Just A Girl’ and ‘Lovefool’.
The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that is what causes its success. For lovers of the book, the movie, or newbies alike, it’s a fun and sexy show with an extremely strong cast to carry it all.
Cruel Intentions runs until the 25th of August – buy tickets here.
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