by Kelly, Manager of Group Sales and Services
Musicals based on movies are not exactly a new trend – in fact, scan the marquees in Midtown and you’ll see the majority of current Broadway shows are in fact using movies as source material (Once, Newsies, Spiderman, Sister Act, Ghost…the list goes on and on.) Some stage versions have been wildly successful, while others have fallen flat…yet the trend continues.
Bring it On: The Musical hits right in the heart of this trend – the popular movie franchise seems like the perfect source material to lift from the screen and transplant to the stage. This show is put in the best possible care – with a mind-boggling mix of musical theatre talent at the helm – music by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), lyrics by Miranda and Amanda Green (High Fidelity – the upcoming Hands on a Hard Body), book by Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), and directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler (In the Heights, 9 to 5). So…does this dream team deliver?
My answer: a resounding YES. Bring it On: The Musical hits all the right notes with a fun, young, energetic show full of heart and, of course…spirit. The plot follows loosely the path set by the third Bring it On movie (yes…I have seen them all – don’t judge!) with popular Campbell winning the head cheerleader spot at the affluent and traditional Truman High, where the status quo is the way to go. Campbell has dreamed of this moment for all of her young life and is ecstatic to lead her team to victory at Nationals – until a city-wide redistricting dumps her and unpopular wannabe Bridget at the neighboring Jackson High – where the unconventional student body encourages everyone to do their own thing, leaving Campbell lost as Bridget embraces the new atmosphere. The worst news for Campbell? Jackson doesn’t even have a cheerleading squad! Instead, hip-hop dance group “The Crew” is the place to be – if their leader Danielle would just give Campbell a chance.
As Campbell begins to find her way at Jackson and eventually wins over “The Crew,” back at Truman a failing grade in home ec and a bout of mono have left Campbell’s old squad in the hands of sophomore Eva (Campbell’s next door neighbor who has mysteriously avoided the redistricting.) Campbell’s uneasiness and jealousy over Eva’s succession lead her to convince Danielle and her new friends to turn “The Crew” into a cheerleading squad and attempt to beat Truman at Nationals. Along the path to Nationals, the squads of both Truman and Jackson learn the meaning of true friendship and that all you need is to be yourself to make your dreams come true.
The high-flying cheerleading stunts mixed with witty dialogue, catchy tunes and charming characters are what makes Bring it On: The Musical really soar. Professional cheerleaders are mixed in with the cast to perform the dazzling stunts and give the squads some realism. The most memorable songs are “It’s All Happening,” where Campbell and Danielle convince the Jackson “Crew” to form a squad, “Ain’t No Thing,” where Jackson students Nautica and La Cienega help Bridget realize that she should embrace the way she is and that she doesn’t need to change a thing, and “Enjoy the Trip,” where the charming Randall helps Campbell put things into perspective. The cast is full of fresh and fantastic new talent – great things can be said about the entire cast, though special attention should be given to Taylor Louderman, who leads the cast with her wonderful vocals and contagious charm as Campbell, Elle McLemore’s deliciously two-faced Eva, Ariana DeBose and Gregory Haney as the duo of wise-cracking “sisters from another mother” Nautica and La Cienega, and of course…Nicolas Womack and the exceptional Ryann Redmond as the scene-stealing Twig and Bridget.
Bring it On: The Musical is appropriate for all ages (though watch out for a swear word or two and a few innuendos tossed in…come on, they’re teenagers!), though I will admit that a younger audience will appreciate the effervescent show more than others. What the plot lacks in depth is made up for with energy and heart. Most of all…it’s undeniable fun. You’ll leave with a giant smile and a heart full of spirit. Need a pick-me-up or just a fun night out? Well…Bring it On!
Bring it On: The Musical is playing a limited engagement at the St. James Theater until October. Click here to buy tickets online, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at 212-302-4019.