There’s no denying that the film Cruel Intentions was a ’90s cult classic. The story, filled with tragedy, sexual tension, deception, and betrayal, toys with the audience’s heart strings as much as it does the characters on screen. Enter Cruel Intentions: The ’90s Musical Experience.
Co-Creator/Director Lindsey Rosin and Co-Creator Jordan Ross give us the proper dosage of nostalgia via musical selections. Musical numbers such as “Genie in a Bottle” (Christina Aguilera), “I Want It That Way” (Backstreet Boys), and “Lovefool” (The Cardigans) frame the story, making Intentions a guaranteed blast from the past.
Music isn’t the only element that carries this ’90s drama from start to finish. Sebastian, played by Constantine Rousouli, and Kathryn, played by Lauren Zakrin, are torchbearers for the Valmont – Merteuil legacy, every bit the conniving, cut throat personas played out in the ’90s film. And while Sebastian and Kathryn’s narratives frame the story, the performance of Cecile Caldwell, played by Jessie Shelton, steals the show. Shelton’s charisma, word play, and athleticism were on full display. The audience at (le) Poisson Rouge even joined in to Shelton’s rendition of Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want To Wait” (see Dawson’s Creek theme song), an approval of mass proportions no matter what stage you’re on in New York. And that’s after Cecile sang a Boyz II Men classic, “I’ll Make Love To You” while seducing Sebastian – a performance that left audience members wiping tears from their eyes; it was that funny.
Worried about your favorite character and casting? Don’t. Everyone looks the part. Sebastian even wears the infamous sunglasses indoors, for the Cruel diehards. Yes, THE Kiss happens, as well as the passing of flyers that slander Kathryn’s character at the end of the story— everyone in the audience receives one.
I’m underselling this musical if I only call it entertaining— this is more. Imagine Netflix adding one of your favorite shows from back in the day (ex. Full House, Living Single). Now wait ’til Friday night and invite your friends over. Pop the cork on a bottle and pass the popcorn; that’s the Cruel Intentions experience at (le) Poisson Rouge. A live rock band, table service, and full bar make this show a priority on the me-and-the-crew to-do list— a must see with a glass in your hand.