The good news is that this exhilarating and highly entertaining competitive cheerleading new musical BRING IT ON, in a limited run at the St. James Theatre, has been extended through Jan. 20th, 2013 making it an ideal holiday gift for the entire family.
Based on the 2000 motion picture, it would have been easy for the top flight team of Broadway collaborators (Libretto – Jeff Whitty, Music Tom Kitt & Lin-Manuel Miranda and Lyrics by Amanda Green & Mr. Miranda) to simply rely on the spectacular gymnastics inherent to the story but they have skillfully crafted an inspirational and believable story that centers the piece, with wonderful witty lyrics that are character driven, defining the many high school characters to a Tee, dialogue that is contemporary, idiomatic, swift, economical and very funny and music that embraces the two styles of the two schools – Truman High and Jackson High.
Peer pressure, wanting to fit in, jealousy, revenge, friendship, discrimination and what is truly important in all our lives are put to the test here. A test which includes winning the National Cheerleading Competition at all costs.
Your typical blonde beauty, Campbell (the excellent Taylor Louderman) wanting desperately to be the new Team Cheerleading Captain of Truman High is suddenly transferred to the multi racial Jackson High where she no longer has the influence she once did. They don’t even have a cheerleading squad.
Meeting her match, the feisty Danielle (the equally excellent Adrienne Warren) and her fellow sidekicks – Nautica (Ariana DeBose) and the scene stealing La Cienaga (Gregory Haney) who can decimate with a glance or a single word, Campbell tries to fit in.
As did the plump but willing to try almost anything Bridget (an amazing Ryann Redmond – a female version of Josh Gad) at Truman High who was the team’s mascot – dressed in a parrot suit. She has also been rezoned to Jackson where she blossoms, finding a new friend Twig (Nicolas Womak) who finds her, well – attractive. And the low key love interest Randall (Jason Gotay) teaches Campbell something more important than winning.
As it turns out the evil Eva (Elle McLemore with a gleaming killer instinct and having some great fantasy moments) whose mom managed the rezoning switch enabling her crafty daughter to take over Campbell’s position and boyfriend Steven (the attractive, muscular but dim Neil Haskell) who does some mean back flips also faces some tough decisions.
Andy Blankenbuehler has done a spectacular, jaw dropping job as director and choreographer with the final National Competition between the competing schools going all out with some professional cheerleaders on board. You will be amazed at the vibrant and high flying routines on the clever set design by David Korins – who always impresses.
Costumes by Andrea Lauer and stadium type lighting by Jason Lyons add tremendously to the excitement created. Spot on Video Design by Jeff Sugg only emphasize how important projections have become to theatrical productions. Perhaps a new Tony Award category should be forthcoming.
Who wins the competition? You will have to find out for yourself. You’ll have a terrific time doing so.
www.bringitonmusical.com Photos: Joan Marcus
NOTE: This review is dedicated to Dorothy Lester.
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