Cruel Intentions The 90s Musical at The Other Palace. Photo by Pamela Raith

Cruel Intentions The 90s Musical Reviews

Reviews are coming in for the London premiere of Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical at The Other Palace theatre in London.

The show is based on the 90’s movie Cruel Intentions starring Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Phillippe, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

The movie was itself based on the French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

Cruel Intentions: The ‘90s Musical at The Other Palace stars Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky (Six) as Kathryn and Daniel Bravo (Witness for the Prosecution) as Sebastian, with TikTok star Abbie Budden (Peter Pan) as Annette, and Rose Galbraith (Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends) as Cecile.

The cast also includes Josh Barnett (Newsies, The Last 5 Years) as Blaine, Jess Buckby (42nd Street, Anything Goes) as Ms Bunny Caldwell / Dr Greenbaum, Nickcolia King-N’Da (RSC) as Ronald and Barney Wilkinson (Bonnie & Clyde The Musical, Bat Out of Hell) as Greg; plus the ensemble includes Craig Watson (Mamma Mia! I Have a Dream) as Understudy Sebastian; Nathan Lorainey-Dineen (& Juliet); Charlotte O’Rourke (Mamma Mia!); and Verity Thompson (Heathers). 

Cruel Intentions is created by Jordan Ross, Lindsey Rosin, and Roger Kumble, and boasts a soundtrack packed full of ‘90s pop classics, including ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ by The Verve, R.E.M’s ‘Losing My Religion’, Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’, ‘I Saw the Sign’ by Ace of Base, Christina Aguilera’s ‘Genie in a Bottle’, TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’, Boyz II Men’s ‘I’ll Make Love to You’, *NSYNC’s ‘Bye Bye Bye’, Britney Spears’ ’Sometimes’ and many more.

The show is directed by Jonathan O’Boyle, alongside Associate Director & Choreographer Gary Lloyd; Set & Costume Designer Polly Sullivan; Lighting Designer Nick Richings; Sound Designer Chris Whybrow; Musical Director Denise Crowley; Associate Choreographer Matt Nicholson; Costume Supervisor Hugo Aguirre; and Casting Will Burton for Grindrod Burton.

Produced by Bill Kenwright Ltd, Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical is playing at The Other Palace to 14 April 2024.

Read reviews from the Times, Guardian and more, with further reviews to be added.

Book tickets to Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical is playing at The Other Palace in London

Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical reviews

The Times

"A sparky musical version of the cult film"

"If there’s one crucial difference between this teenage musical and the original film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Reese Witherspoon, it’s that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously."

"... in Jonathan O’Boyle’s ebullient production, bubblegum pop undercuts the polite viciousness of the drama."

"Even in the darker moments, we’re never in doubt that we are watching teenagers role-playing. At times, the mischievous juxtaposition of music and melodrama is similar to that more recent Shakespearean jukebox romp & Juliet. Mercifully, though, the camp quotient isn’t allowed to run riot."

"Gary Lloyd’s loose-limbed choreography evokes the sense of youthful hormones running amok. Josh Barnett always impresses as Sebastian’s gay co-conspirator, Blaine. The moment when he and Barney Wilkinson’s football jock Greg romance each other to the sound of the Spice Girls is one to treasure."

Clive Davis, The Times
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The Evening Standard

"Musical makeover of the 90s hit is a fast, funny, guilty pleasure"

"Full of classic hits from No Scrubs to Bitterseweet Symphony this is a sexy, smirky riot"

"This deliciously trashy musical adaptation of the 1999 film inserts Nineties pop classics into its story of cynical sexual shenanigans among privileged New York teens. A fast, funny, guilty pleasure, it’s a fitting tribute to the popular touch of its late producer Bill Kenwright."

"On stage, it proves a breakout vehicle for Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky, who has a belting soul-gospel crossover voice, and embodies the slinky perversity that makes the show zing. Her biography lists mostly tours and understudy work, plus a stint in Six. This swaggering turn should make her a star."

"he whole thing is a sexy, smirky, tongue-in-someone-else’s cheek riot, gleefully politically incorrect. Why it hasn’t been cancelled is anybody’s guess."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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"This jukebox musical adaptation of the racy ’90s film is pure nostalgic fun"

"This musical version of the now-classic 1999 film is a pure blast of nostalgia. But like the original screenplay, it’s sharper and spikier than your average high-school-set, singalong teen drama."

"A talented ensemble cast provides a strong backdrop for the show’s terrible twosome. As Kathryn and Sebastian, McCaulsky and Bravo are great – sexy, withering and with just enough messiness to give some extra emotional oomph to the power of their singing."

"Jonathan O’Boyle’s staging rockets along with confidence, humour and energy, as choreographer Gary Lloyd blends a punchy sense of pastiche into the show’s set-pieces."

"This show knows what it is and winningly relishes that."

Tom Wicker, TimeOut
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The Guardian

"Peppy return of toxic teenage liaisons"

"There are some excellent performances in an uneven adaptation of the hit film, staged with songs by No Doubt, Ace of Base and Placebo"

"Performed by the company, Placebo’s opener is somewhat drained of doom and many of the songs are used for either comedic or romantic purposes. Often, the lyrics shrewdly match character or story."

"Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky is sensational in the role, exuding hauteur with the slightest hair toss. McCaulsky is matched well by Daniel Bravo, whose wavy curls recall Phillippe’s, and there are appealing professional debuts from Abbie Budden (Annette) and Rose Galbraith (Cecile), while Josh Barnett and Barney Wilkinson strengthen the film’s gay relationship. Nickcolia King-N’Da and Jess Buckby complete the cast whose confidence elevates a peppy musical that can’t quite calibrate the movie’s toxicity."

Chris Wiegand, The Guardian
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The Independent

"Exercise in nostalgia ends up feeling like a depressing throwback"

"This stage version nails the original’s acid punchlines but not the tone, blunting its dark edge with a score of the decade’s bubbliest songs"

"Subtitled “The ’90s Musical”, this stage version nails the original’s acid punchlines but not the tone, blunting its dark edge with a score of the decade’s bubbliest songs."

"Sebastian (Daniel Bravo) and Kathryn (Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky) are immaculate as its central duo of schemers, radiating hilarious, psychopathic intelligence"

"This duo’s dark trajectory is studded with casual racism, homophobia, and messy questions about consent, which O’Boyle’s production only half-attempts to resolve."

Alice Saville, The Independent
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The Stage

"Slick and sharp"

"Satirical, uneven adaptation with strong performances and a nostalgic score"

"It is amusing, and occasionally shocking, to see how much the social and moral landscape has changed since the release of Roger Kumble’s movie Cruel Intentions at the end of the last century."

"Jonathan O’Boyle first directed the musical in the UK at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019, but this production is blessed with a more polished design from Polly Sullivan and a keener focus from its director."

"Much of it works, with songs from Placebo, Christina Aguilera and REM reflecting the darker strains of a story about sexual manipulation and emotional blackmail."

"With such a strong story, it is difficult not to feel that Kumble and his co-creators have missed an opportunity in not creating an original score. Still, O’Boyle’s crowd-pleasing production is slick and sharp – and it could quite easily prove as successful as the venue’s previous high-school musical long-runner Heathers."

Paul Vale, The Stage
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📷 Main photo: Cruel Intentions The 90s Musical at The Other Palace. Photo by Pamela Raith

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