Cruel Intentions heralds a return to ’90s fashion at the State Theatre

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Cruel Intentions heralds a return to ’90s fashion at the State Theatre

By Helen Pitt

Singer Kelsey Halge wasn’t born in 1999 when teen movie Cruel Intentions shocked the world with its kiss between actors Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Selma Blair (Legally Blonde).

Now 23 years later, the 22-year-old stars in Cruel Intentions: The ’90s Musical which just opened at the State Theatre, in the role Reese Witherspoon made famous in the cult film.

Cruel Intentions: The ’90s Musical stars (left to right) Drew Weston as Sebastian, Kelsey Halge as Annette Hargrove, and Kirby Burgess as Kathryn.

Cruel Intentions: The ’90s Musical stars (left to right) Drew Weston as Sebastian, Kelsey Halge as Annette Hargrove, and Kirby Burgess as Kathryn. Credit:Louie Douvis

“I was aware of the iconic kiss scene,” said the actor. Halge plays Annette Hargrove, whose virginal reputation is at stake in the dark drama of sexual manipulation.

“It is such a cult hit classic. It was still big when I was a teen; it is a real privilege to bring it to the stage,” she said of her breakout professional role.

Cruel Intentions, the movie: Selma Blair, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe in the cult ’90s hit.

Cruel Intentions, the movie: Selma Blair, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe in the cult ’90s hit.Credit:

“This show is a love letter to the film, combining scenes from it with hits from the ’90s,” said Halge, a graduate of Victoria’s Federation University’s Arts Academy in Ballarat.

The jukebox musical, based on the cult classic set in elite Manhattan society, was an adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons, the 1782 novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, and subsequent1988 film of the same name starring Glenn Close, Uma Thurman, Michelle Pfeiffer and John Malkovich.

The 1999 film, in which Witherspoon first starred with then-husband Ryan Phillippe, was re-released in cinemas in 2019, and a new TV series is in development.

“The ’90s is now part of the zeitgeist again,” Halge said.

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Some songs from the stage show, including Bittersweet Symphony by the Verve - the anthem of the film’s original compilation soundtrack – and Sometimes by Britney Spears, Genie in a Bottle by Christina Aguilera, Placebo’s Every You and Every Me, and ’90s classic Bye Bye Bye by *NSYNC are having a revival on commercial radio, she said.

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“We are celebrating as well as poking fun at everything from the ’90s now, from the music to fashion like low-rise jeans and butterfly clips and tube tops,” Halge said.

The Australian cast stars Kirby Burgess as scheming seductress Kathryn, the role made famous by Gellar, and Drew Weston as her bad-boy brother Sebastian, originally played by Phillippe. Helpmann Award-nominated performer Francine Cain plays the naive Cecile (the role Blair made famous with her kiss with Gellar.)

“It is meant to be a thought-provoking look at people behaving badly, a deep dive into the manipulative world of ravaging reputations – a story which has lessons for every era,” Halge said.

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