credit Jenny Anderson
by Deirdre Donovan
Roger Kumble’s cult-hit film Cruel Intentions? Well, Kumble’s 1999 film
has gone from screen to stage with a new jukebox musical of the same name.
Created by Jordan Ross, Lindsey Rosin, and Roger Kumble, and now playing at Le
Poisson Rouge, it may well be Off Broadway’s raciest new show.
Zakrin, Constantine Rousouli credit Jenny Anderson
scenario: Step-siblings Sebastian Valmont (Constantine Rousouli) and Kathryn
Merteuil (Lauren Zakrin) are two diabolically charming high school teens who
wager a bet between them. The handsome Sebastian wants to cement his Don Juan
reputation and bets he can seduce the incoming headmaster’s daughter Annette
Hargrove (Carrie St. Louis). The attractive (and tough as nails) Kathryn
schemes on how to get Sebastian to deflower the dull-witted Cecile Caldwell
(Emma Hunton). The step-siblings soon become entangled in a web of intrigues,
temptations, and secrets that eventually implode on themselves. What starts
out as a titillating excitement turns into a very dangerous game of love
a rush of déjà vu as you watch Cruel Intentions? Well, it’s no
accident. This musical is a new twist on the classic 1782 French novel Les
Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Chaderlos de Laclos. The difference of
course is the modern setting, the American vernacular, and the 90s hit tunes,
courtesy of the artists Goo Goo Dolls, No Doubt, R.E.M., Ace of Base, Jewel,
who are fans of the Cruel Intentions film will recognize that a few
songs from the iconic soundtrack have been sprinkled into this stage version as
well. In fact, Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” and Counting Cows “Colorblind”
are two of the better-known songs that surface in this intoxicating musical and
cast a complete spell over the audience.
sets precedent as the first ever fully-staged theater production at Le Poisson
Rouge. It debuted at the Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Angeles in 2015 and
migrated two years later to Le Poisson Rouge first for a “pop-up” performance
in February 2017 and then for a longer run starting this past November. The
show originally was slated for a 10-week run at the nightclub but its
popularity encouraged the producers to extend it to a 21-week run.
question one of the show’s real plusses is its intimate staging. Audience
members are cozily seated at tables surrounding the stage. And performers
fluidly move on and off stage to execute various scenes. Depending on where
you sit, you may be only an arm’s length away from an actor as he (or she)
deviously dreams or schemes in their fictive world.
cast looks like it’s having one devilishly good time during the show.
Although it’s unfair to pick favorites from such a good acting ensemble,
Constantine Rousouli is ideal as the latter-day Lothario, Sebastian Valmont.
Lauren Zakrin, as the demonic Kathryn Merteuil, is cunning as a serpent here.
Carrie St. Louis, as the schoolmaster’s daughter Annette Hargrove, is a superb
blending of naïveness and propriety. And Emma Hunton, as the slow-witted
Cecile Caldwell, makes good use of physical comedy to pull off the funny
the agile direction of Lindsey Rosin, Cruel Intentions is a delightful
nostalgic trip back to the 90s. It might not have the grandeur of Les
Liaisons Dangereuses, but this winking musical about manipulative teens
will definitely appeal to those New Yorkers who like their theater hot and
Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street, Manhattan.
more information and tickets, visit www.CruelMusical.com
seated tickets, require a 2 beverage or food minimum.
time: Approximately 2 hours with one intermission.