THE HANGOVER REPORT – The scrappy, smart CRUEL INTENTIONS: THE MUSICAL strikes the right balance

The company of "Cruel Intentions: The Musical" at Le Poisson Rouge.

The company of “Cruel Intentions: The Musical” at Le Poisson Rouge.

Last night at Le Poisson Rouge, a beloved Greenwich Village music venue, I caught the jukebox musical version of the 1999 film Cruel Intentions, itself a loose adaptation Les Liaisons dangereuses. Cruel Intentions updates the much-adapted 1782 play by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos by setting the plot in a New York high school during the 1990s. The musical’s creators, Lindsey Rosin and Jordan Ross, have incorporated an impressive roster of 90s pop songs – ranging from peppy to angsty – to tell the the sex- and power-fueled tale.

Over the years, New York has seen many a nostalgic cult film and television series adapted hastily, many times clumsily, for the Off-Broadway stage. Like these, this Cruel Intentions, which is directed efficiently by Ms. Rosin, boasts an understandably low-budget staging.

The difference here is that I actually had a genuinely fun time. Cruel Intentions: The Musical is a legitimately smart jukebox musical concoction. It’s well-constructed, striking just the right balance between satire and musical theater sincerity. The musical is also performed by an attractive, young, and very talented cast. Kudos particularly to the two female leads, Carrie St. Louis and Lauren Zakrin, who are both giving thoroughly enjoyable, vocally impressive performances. If anything, this Cruel Intentions reminds me of the daffy Broadway romp from last season, Disaster, both in its craft and entertainment value. That’s (unexpected) high praise.



Off-Broadway, Musical
Le Poisson Rouge
1 hour, 45 minutes (including intermission)
Through February 19

Categories: Off-Broadway, Theater

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