Based on the 1999 film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Reese Witherspoon, and Selma Blair, Cruel Intentions the 90s musical doesn’t stray too far from the original film. As a film, Cruel Intentions treads a complicated path. This raunchy thriller about teens either having sex with each other, or trying to convince other people to have sex with them. The plot is somewhat simple, but involves the high school meanie Kathryn making a bet with her stepbrother Sebastian to sleep with the new headmaster’s daughter Annette, who is outspokenly “saving herself”. 

There are many other sub-plots concerning romantic entanglements, drugs, discrimination, and a gay relationship.

Wicked and incredibly risqué this musical isn’t intended for younger audiences and incorporates iconic songs from the 90s to aid in the storytelling. Music from popular artists including Natalie Imbruglia, Christina Aguilera, The Backstreet Boys, Melissa Etheridge, Ace Of Base and Britney Spears. 

Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical proves that you don’t need a flash bang set to make a good piece of theatre. A scaffold at the back of the stage that housed the band, four moving panels featuring large picture frames, two giant moving doors, two chairs and a couch was all it took to create the wide number of locations in the show. Adding to the simple set was the use of projection. The video design by Craig Wilkinson was excellent. It added a depth to the numbers in the show. The lighting design by Declan O’Neill was also well thought through. With the combination of the projection and lighting designs, it gave each number a ‘90s music video’ vibe.

Kirby Burgess (Kathryn Mertevil) is outstanding. Her mannerisms, voice, and characterisation are spot on. Vocally, Burgess moves between musical styles with such ease giving a great depth in her performance.

Equally impressive as Kathryn’s venal accomplice (Sebastian Valmont) Drew Weston is a stylish singer and dancer who’s not afraid to flaunt his almost nude buff bod in the services of art or seduction. Other stand outs are Sarah Krndija is a scream and delivers a very funny comedic performance as the enthusiastic and willing seductee of Kathryn & Sebastian’s cruel games. While Rishab Kern (Ronald) and Fem Belling (Cecile’s Mother) add a little bit of extra  as Cecile’s cello teacher, and the stitched-up mother.

This musical is defiantly for open-minded audiences and is definitely not suitable for prudes. 

Cruel Intentions the ’90s Musical plays at Athenaeum Theatre, Melbourne until 5th of  March 2023. For tickets visit 

x Steph

Photo credit Steven Grevis

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