As silly as it is smart and sexy, Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical is here for a good time, not a long time.
Based on the cult 1999 film (itself based on Les Liaisons dangereuses), Cruel Intentions explores New York’s teen elite, who are apparently more interested in sexual conquests than their school work. Step-siblings Kathryn (Kirby Burgess) and Sebastian (Drew Weston) both identify their targets: the naïve Cecile (Francine Cain), Kathryn’s ex-boyfriend’s new love interest, and the virginal Annette (Kelsey Halge), the new headmaster’s daughter.
A wager is set – if Kathryn wins, she gets Sebastian’s vintage car, and if Sebastian wins, he gets to sleep with his step-sister – which will be his biggest conquest yet.
Refreshing for the jukebox musical, audiences are treated to a sharp and snappy book (Roger Kumble, Lindsey Rosin and Jordan Ross), allowing the ’90s/early 2000s music selection to drive the storytelling. Original film director Kumble has delivered a nostalgic adaptation, skilfully directed here by Alister Smith. Combined with Freya List’s punchy (and often hilarious) choreography, not a moment is wasted, with scene transitions providing comedy.
Burgess and Weston’s lead performances are underpinned by hot vocals and just the right dose of melodrama. Joseph Spanti and Euan Fistrovic Doidge have far too much fun in their supporting roles as Greg and Blaine, dripping in boy band goodness.
However, the absolute star is Cain as Cecile, with a flawless delivery of physical comedy. Who knew you could do so much with a couch and some ’90s heels?
Marred only by really sketchy audio (a regular issue for the Athenaeum stalls), Daniel Puckey’s hot band and ensemble cast deliver a So Fresh greatest hits album: think N*Sync, TLC, Christina Aguilera among many others.
Visually, the solid design team of Isaac Lummis, James Browne, Declan O’Neill and Craig Wilkinson masterfully combine their disciplines to create a colourful, functional and exciting look.
Self-aware and shameless, Cruel Intentions: The ‘90s Musical is in Melbourne until June 19, followed by a tour to Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.
Photos Credit: Fuller PR