Cruel Intentions: the 90’s musical

I was obsessed with the film ‘Cruel Intentions’ when I was a teenager, I thought it was so cool the New York Upper East side, the clothes, the car (a vintage jaguar xk140 roadster) but most of all I was taken by Sebastian Valmont, the character played by Ryan Phillippe. I even ordered a pair of lookalike sunglasses from a then small internet start-up called ‘As Seen on Screen’ several years before they rebranded as simply ASOS and became the internet clothing giant they are today. This was several years before ‘Gossip Girl’ came to our screens so it was my first introduction to the glamorous lifestyle of the Manhattan elite. The film is a modern retelling of the classic French novel ‘Les Liaisons dangereuses’ and the cast is superb with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon and Selma Blair among others. It really is a excellent film and one i have watched countless times. It’s currently free to watch on Amazon Prime in the UK and if you haven’t seen it i can highly recommend.

Anyway suffice to say when I first heard they were going to be doing a musical version of the film and was coming to London I knew I had to go. I went with my favourite gay networking group ‘It’s culture innit’. It was at The Other Place Theatre, one of my favourite London theatres, as because it is a newer built venue has brilliant sights lines and no annoying pillars or blind spots blocking the view of the stage. I’ve previously been to see my friend Giles in the Nigel Slater play ‘Toast’ there.

 

 

‘Cruel Intentions: the 90’s musical’ is a jukebox style musical and included many of the songs used in the film, the soundtrack of which by the way is brilliant and another favourite of mine. The end scene of the movie where they use the Verve song ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ is iconic and one of the best bits of the whole film. They also cleverly slotted it many other late 90s classic pop songs including some Backstreet Boys, N’sync, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. The introduction of TLC’s ‘No scrubs’ and Natalie Imbruglia’s version of ‘Torn’ were particular favourites. I was interested to see how closely they stuck to the story/ script of the movie and they really did, as someone who can pretty much quote the entire movie verbatim, this was excellent, though i did notice they cut some of the slightly less PC words out. The two main stars Daniel Bravo as Sebastian and Rhianne-Louis McCaulsky as Kathryn were both superbly cast. The whole thing was funny, nostalgia filled and I utterly loved it from start to finish. Amazing film, amazing musical adaptation, brilliant.. It’s only on til the end of May, so grab your tickets while you can. I’m genuinely tempted to go back and see it again.

Witness for the Prosecution

I love a good Agatha Christie murder mystery. Witness for the Prosecution has been on at County Hall in London for quite a few years now and I’ve been wanting to see it for ages, so with the ‘Get into London Theatre’ January sale on I couldn’t resist.

The play is staged in what was the main council chamber of the old London County Council, later the Greater London Council, that was famously led by firebrand Ken Livingston and then eventually scrapped by Margaret Thatcher is the 1980s. It is a beautiful Edwardian baroque space and was perfect for the play. As it was built as a former council chamber and not specifically a theatre, it also meant that there was much more leg room that normal and even a little fold out table in front of me, perfect resting spot for a cheeky G&T.

Without giving too much away or any spoilers I can tell you the play revolves around a trial of a young man accused of murder. This being an Agatha Christie there is of course lots of twists and turns in the story. Being a fan I sort of guessed the ending, but nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend.

Backstairs Billy

Backstairs Billy is a play all about the late Queen Mother’s favourite servant, William Tallon, who was cheekily nicknamed Backstairs Billy. He was so called because his official title as a royal servant at Clarence House was Steward and Page of the Backstairs. I actually read the book ‘ Backstairs Billy: The Life of William Tallon, the Queen Mother’s Most Devoted Servant’ that the play is partially based on during lockdown and found it utterly fascinating. As soon as I saw this advertised I knew I had to get tickets.

Written by Marcelo Dos Santos, the production is set in 1979 and explores the unusual relationship between Tallow and his royal employer. As well as being a servant he was also a very promiscuous homosexual. The gorgeous, out gay actor Luke Evans plays the main role of Billy and Penelope Wilton the role of the Queen Mother. The play is very funny and also quite naughty in places, but is an amusing romp. It’s only on until January 27th, so not long to grab tickets if you want to see it. I loved it.

Ain’t too proud

Ain’t too proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations is the West End debut of the 2018 jukebox musical all about the classic R&B Motown band, The Temptations. You’ll know them from song’s like ‘My Girl’, ‘Get ready’, ‘Papa was a rollin’ stone’ and of course the song the title of the musical comes from ‘Ain’t too proud to beg’. It’s from the same producers that did Jersey Boys, the brilliant musical about the Four Tops, as such it does feel very similar in style. As it was press night we had an extra special guest appearance at the end of evening from the founder and only original Temptations member left in the band, Otis Williams. I went with my friend Simon and we loved it.

Ramo Ramen

This ramen restaurant is famous for its award winning oxtail kare kare ramen. Until recently they only had a branch in Kentish Town in North London, but they’ve now opened a second branch on Brewer Street in Soho. A much easier option for me. I was passing and meeting a friend for drinks later so went for an early dinner. I was the only customer in there at the time, though a few other customers came in while I was eating. The ramen was relatively quick to come and looked interesting. The broth was sadly a bit cold, definitely more lukewarm than hot. Ramen should always really be served very hot and eaten immediately for maximum noodle slurpage, so this was disappointing. The noodles were the standard shop bought in type and on the slightly too soft side. The egg was starting to get hard and was slightly broken. Personally if I was the chef I wouldn’t of served it. However the highlight was the oxtail which was really good, definitely the star of the show. This has the makings of a pretty decent ramen, unfortunately on the day I visited standards had very much slipped.

Oxtail kare kare ramen
Oxtail kare kare ramen