Will Cruel Intentions slither into the West End or remain an item on your #WestEndWishList?
Posted on 4 July 2019
Nostalgia therapy is no doubt all the rage these days. You saw it on stage with last year's Heathers and you'll see it again this year with the new Max Martin musical, & Juliet, a fancy jukebox production packed with all your favourite retro hits from the past two decades. You see it on TV, like in Black Mirror's 'San Junipero' episode. You hear it in music: think Charli XCX and her recent jam with Troye Sivan, '1999', in which she sings "I just wanna go back, sing, "Hit me, baby, one more time."."
Well now fans of the decade that brought bubblegum pop and angsty alt-rock to the forefront can get just the blast to the past they've been looking for with Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical. The provocative show based on the award-winning film of the same name first premiered in Los Angeles before later transferring to the Poisson Rouge Nightclub Off-Broadway in 2017. It is now set to head to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August for its long-awaited UK premiere. If all goes well for the production next month, there's a high chance West End audiences may see it grace the London stage in 2020.
Roger Kumble's Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical to open in London's West End?
Released in 1999, the film Cruel Intentions not only perfectly summed up nineties Anglophonic culture with its Neo-noir vibes à la Basic Instinct (1992) and outrageously campy situations akin to Wild Things (1998), but it also wrapped up the nineties in a neat little bow. Released on VHS (remember those?) in December 1999 after enjoying box office success in cinemas, Cruel Intentions marked the bittersweet end of an era. Now that the '90s musical is opening at the Assembly George Square in Edinburgh next month for its highly-anticipated Edinburgh Fringe premiere, London theatre fans can expect a West End transfer for the Cruel Intentions musical will, at the very least, be in talks.
The production history for Cruel Intentions The Musical
The musical theatre adaptation of Cruel Intentions is inspired by the MTV Movie Award-winning film starring Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Selma Blair, which was inspired by both the 1985 play, also titled Cruel Intentions, and the 1988 film Dangerous Liaisons (starring John Malkovich of Bitter Wheat and Glenn Close of Sunset Boulevard), which in turn were essentially all adaptations of the 1782 Pierre Choderlos de Laclos novel, Les Liaisons dangereuses. Confusing, eh?
The musical, set to some of the greatest songs the '90s has to offer, was co-created by Jordan Ross, Lindsey Rosin, and Roger Kumble, who also served as director for the 1999 teen drama. The Off-Broadway production had a Dinner Theatre feel, as it was staged in the Le Poisson Rouge nightclub with full bar and table service.
Cruel Intentions musical Edinburgh Fringe Festival cast and creatives
The Edinburgh run of Cruel Intentions is set to star Dominic Andersen (Heathers) as Sebastian Valmont, Sophie Isaacs (Heathers) as Annette Hargrove, Rebecca Gilhooley (The Last Ship) as Kathryn Merteuil, Evelyn Hoskins (Carrie) as Cecile Caldwell, Gemma Salter (Made in Dagenham) as Bunny Caldwell, Ashley Samuels (Motown The Musical) as Ronald Clifford, Scott Hunter (Yank!) as Blaine Tuttle, and Dean John-Wilson (Aladdin) as Greg McConnell.
It is directed by Jonathan O'Boyle (Aspects of Love) and features dazzling choreography by Heathers' Gary Lloyd, design by Lee Newbury (who worked on this summer's The View UpStairs at the Soho), sound design by Dan Samson, musical direction by Sarah Morrison, and casting by Debbie O'Brien.
While the West End transfer of Cruel Intentions has yet to be confirmed or even entertained as of yet, it is likely some of the original Edinburgh cast members will reprise their roles for the currently purely theoretical London premiere, as is often the case.
Why Cruel Intentions would make the perfect West End show
Many of us love trashy, campy stories and Cruel Intentions takes the cake. Flirting with incest where Sebastian hopes to shag his own step-sister and placing revenge-plotting, backstabbing high schoolers as the lead characters, Cruel Intentions feels like a bout of juicy gossip that you won't be able to take your eyes off of. The story can even feel a bit over the top — if Sebastian wins the bet and succeeds in deflowering the headmaster's daughter, Kathryn will let him do anything he wants to her, and you can bet you definitely won't find what that is printed in the school yearbook. But whilst we can't seem to get enough of the wild and crazy plot events, there is a moral to the story when Sebastian falls victim to his own manipulative antics and bets.
With Heathers The Musical long and gone and with Cruel Intentions featuring hit '90s music from the likes of Counting Crows ('Color Blind'), Goo Goo Dolls ('Iris'), Christina Aguilera ('Genie In A Bottle'), and of course The Verve ('Bitter Sweet Symphony'), the Cruel Intentions musical may just be the perfect nostalgic trip we didn't even know we needed.
If the UK premiere in Edinburgh turns out to be more than just a conquest for Cruel Intentions, then it's certainly a safe bet the show will intend to make a West End premiere. It's only a matter of time.
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