BWW Interview: Thirteen Questions with Taylor Pearlstein of CRUEL INTENTIONS on Tour!
Taylor Pearlstein (center) as Kathryn in Cruel Intentions. Photo courtesy Cruel Intentions the Musical.
Before Cruel Intentions brings 90's tune's and cocaine crosses to Louisville, Taylor Pearlstein who plays Kathryn, took the time to answer a few questions.
1. Cruel Intentions is one of the most essential teen films ever made, if someone were to adapt another 90's teen flick, what would you want it to be and who would you want to play?
2. Sarah Michelle Gellar's original performance as Kathryn is the definition of iconic. Are there any things you have done to pay homage to her in your performance? Or do you mostly try to make her more of your own?
Sarah's dryness and nasality in tone is something I try to emulate in my character work, as well as how perfectly she plays both sweet and satanic. You can't tell where it starts and stops. As a whole though, I've tried to approach the character from a fresh perspective. I took even more inspiration from Glenn Close's work in Dangerous Liaisons. We get to see so much more of the emotional arc for Kathryn in that film, and much more of her and Sebastian's relationship, which is useful in our show. We get to much more emotional, exposed places in the musical than in the movie, so we see more of Kathryn's cracks and heartbreak.
3. Kathryn is known for her cunning and scheming tendencies, while rarely showing vulnerability. With that being said, how would you describe yourself in comparison?
Cunning and scheming are not words I'd use to describe myself. Kathryn doesn't spend much time or waste much energy on empathy, whereas empathy is actually something I find I have an excess of more often than not. Vulnerability is a strong suit for me. It's interesting to step into such a different mindset than my own. Empowering and relieving at times, really.
4. The show uses a wide array of 90's pop tunes to tell this timeless story, do you have a favorite in the show, or are there any songs that were left out that you wish were included?
Torn is so fun, I usually have a dramatic lip-sync battle back stage with Aaron, one of our stage managers. I also live for the boys' performance of Sometimes by Britney Spears.
5. What was there rehearsal process like for this specific tour, and what have you guys done as a cast to bond to create good chemistry?
Quick! We had two weeks in Manhattan before hitting the road. Sixteen days of rehearsal before our first audience. We really lucked out as far as cast goes. There wasn't much we had to do to get close, we all just sort of fell in love with each other pretty fast. We're all around the same age, so that's been a great energy on and off stage. I really can't sing their praises enough - everyone is so fun and kind and lovely and talented. I feel so blessed. Jeffrey (Sebastian) and I have become fast friends. It didn't take us long to develop that sibling telepathy.
6. If you could play any role in the musical theater genre, male or female, what would it be and why?
Oh man, there are so many. First to come to mind right now are Jean Valjean and Elle Woods. Or Kate in The Wild Party.
7. Growing up, what drew you to a career in theater?
Since I can remember, I always thought an actor or a musician were the coolest things you could be. So I guess I've always dreamt of being able to be that. I learned guitar in third grade because I wanted to be Avril Lavigne, and I've been writing music and singing my whole life. I decided to try drama club my freshman year of high school, and that was game over. I fell in love with theatre and with the kind of people doing it. It's a magical community - that's my favorite part, especially living in New York City now. And my best opportunities have come out of the relationships I've made and the communities I love to support. I also have always loved feeling the audience while I'm on stage. It's such a special and unique connection, to share that moment with those people, and to deliver a story that we all can connect to and emotionally explore together. Everything I do every night is fed energetically by the audience, I can't help it.
8. Did you have any idols or inspirations you looked up to?
Sarah Bareilles is doing everything I want to do with my career, so she's a big one. Billy Joel, Jessie Mueller, Judy Garland. I draw most of my inspiration from my friends and community. When they shine, it makes me want to shine.
9. What cities on tour are you most looking forward to visiting?
Chicago was a big one, so that was an incredible two weeks! I've spent very little time in the south, so I'm excited for Georgia, North Carolina.
10. Out of the many iconic lines from the show, which one is your favorite?
"I think it's the saddest thing I've ever heard. Cheers." I think I love it so much because it's a moment where she's kind of letting her emotions drive a bit too much, and that line is the final twist of the knife in that moment. So cold and fun to deliver.
11. In what ways do you prepare before the show? Any special ritual or routine?
Makeup really gets me into Kathryn, because so much of her is motivated by appearances and vanity. I gotta look GOOD for this show to feel right in Kathryn. I also make sure to tell everyone on my side of the stage to break a leg and that I love them as the show is starting. We circle up with the band and stage management before every show to do a group "Happy Hunting". We take turns saying something to get us into the right mindset to kill it.
12. What do you, as a performer, do to keep the show fresh every night?
I stay focused on my scene partners. As long as I'm there with them, I'm always discovering something new. Jeffrey is such a blast to work with. I can always trust him to play and be completely available to me and our story every show. I also really vibe on audience energy, so my show is a little different for every audience.
13. What do you hope audiences take away from Cruel Intentions?
We're bringing you a good time. I hope audiences come prepared to hoot and holler and enjoy their favorite 90's movie and songs. The nostalgia and emotion in these 90's hits is something our show does that the movie doesn't. I hope people are moved a little more than they expected by these stories, and are laughing the whole way through.
Cruel Intentions the Musical
April 18th ONLY!
The Brown Theatre at The Kentucky Center for the Arts
315 W Broadway
Louisville, KY 40202