|The cast of Bring it On. Photo: Joan Marcus|
By Lauren Yarger
Give me a G, give me an R, give me an E, give me an A, give me a T. What does it spell? Great. and if you add "fun" after it, you have the description for Bring It On, the Broadway musical that has audiences, with lots and lots of young people in them, cheering.
Based on a series of movies (direct to DVD) about rival cheerleading squads, this musical version has a peppy score from Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Kitt (Next toNormal) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights) that propels tumbling, pyramids and flying cheerleading routines (Andy Blankenbuehler directs and choreographs). Miranda and Amanda Green write the very clever lyrics and Jeff Whitty pens the book which differs quite a bit from the movies (credited as a libretto).
Campbell (Taylor Louderman) has all her dreams come true when she is selected cheerleading captain at Truman High. She intends to lead her squad which includes most-popular-girl Skylar (Kate Rockwell), Kylar (Janet Krupin), newbie Eva (Elle McLemore) and boyfriend Steven (Neil Haskell) to the national championship. The pyramid collapses, however, when a school redistricting sends her and geeky school mascott Bridget (a very funny Ryann Redmond) to the very different world of inner-city Jaskson High.
There, Danielle (an impressively belting Adrienne Warren) and her hiphop dance crew of plain speaking Nautica (Ariana DeBose) and crossdresser La Cienega (Gregory Haney) rule the scene. Down-to-earth Bridget quickly fits in and attracts the romantic interests of Twig (Nicolas Womack). Campbell has to come down off her pedestal a bit before finding friendship with Danielle. She convinces them to morph into a cheerleading squad to compete against Truman, now led by Eva, who might just have put in motion a devious plan to take the captaincy and everything that once belonged to Campbell, including Steven and their love song about happy kitties and sleepy pupppies (this silly tune made me laugh every time.)
The creatives put the right formation to work here -- don't take anything seriously. There is humor, a decent book and Kitt and Miranda's music (you can hear the variation between pop and hiphop). The score doesn't achieve the level of their previous works, and some numbers seem penned merely to give the performer a reason to belt, but they are catchy and fun, or moving. The sparse set (David Korins, design) enhanced by video projections (Jeff Sugg, design) brings on key elements to set up a location, then rolls them away to leave room for the cheerleading routines performed an ensemble of 25, including some of the nation’s most skilled competitive cheerleaders with more than 25 national and 50 team titles in gymnastics and cheerleading. Andrea Lauer completes the look with costume design for the squads and high school kids.
You can't help but smile through most of the show -- especially when you look around and see all of the really young people in the audience who cheer and gasp with pleasure and surprise.
Bring It On has been extended through Jan. 20 at the St. James Theatre, 246 West 44th St., NYC. For tickets and information, visit http://www.bringitonmusical.com/.
Christians might like to know:
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Crossdressing (An additional note here. The character is simply portrayed as a guy who is most comfortable dressing as a woman without a lot of emphasis on the sexual reasons involved.)
|The cast, Photo: Joan Marcus|