BRING IT ON Send This Review to a Friend
Even by the normal standards of dopy high school plots, the book for the musical “Bring It On” is especially a bundle of moronic clichés. But—and it’s a big but—when the cheerleaders start doing their breathtaking gymnastics and the appealing performers also sing heartily and dance smashingly, the show dazzles with youthful exuberance.
The production, inspired by the movie of the same name, has a libretto by Jeff Whitty, music by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda and lyrics by Amanda Green and Miranda. It is directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, with musical supervision and dance arrangements by Alex Lacamoire. Various production elements play a major role in the overall explosion of scenic, video, lighting and sound effects that mesh with the set design of David Korins. In case you haven’t yet gotten the picture, “Bring it On” brings it on with an onrush of show biz razzle-dazzle.
When I went to high school in my small town, becoming a cheerleader was a competitive social coup. And that was without the gymnastic expertise popular today. But the basics were still there—strutting one’s stuff and besting rivals. In “Bring It On” Taylor Louderman is appealing as Campbell, whose longing in life is to cheerlead. Kate Rockwell is competitive as Skylar. Elle McLemore as Eva is another smitten by cheerleading ambition. I won’t bore you with elaborate plot details, but Campbell winds up in a school without cheerleaders, a school with a contingent of African-Americans.
Adrienne Warren plays Danielle, the spirited, attractive leader of that group, and she and Campbell team to form a cheerleading squad, which leads to plot complications involving friendship, betrayal, making up, and development of white-black relations, all of which is served up as an excuse for athletic dance routines, phenomenal cheerleading and heavy-handed plot twists. Jason Gotay nicely plays Randall, Campbell’s sympathetic romantic interest.
Early on in the show we meet Ryann Redmond as the chubby Bridget, who is awkward and funny, and immediately we know that she’ll turn out to be the show-stealer as she develops into one of the cheerleading gang, Inevitably she gets tossed as high as the rest of them in a moment no less amusing just because it is predictable. Redmond is thoroughly endearing in the role,
We see on stage a conglomeration of impressive physical specimens, male and female, and when they do their stuff, including somersaults and being tossed so high as to threaten to go through the roof of the St. James Theatre, the show is indeed a sight to behold. If only Whitty could have come up with fresh ideas for a book. Maybe that wasn’t necessary, given the likely audience of high school fans going through their own angst for the first time. At the St. James Theatre, 246 West 44th Street. Phone: 212-239-6200. Reviewed August 8, 2012.