Theater Review - Bring It On (NY)

It is packed with high-flying teenagers, who defy gravity, and sing and dance, as well;  inspired by the Motion Picture written by Jessica Bendinger, the Libretto is by Jeff Whitty, who won the 2004 Tony for Best book of a musical for “Avenue Q” (which is still playing- now Off Broadway at New World Stages), the Music is by Tom Kitt (2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, as well as two Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Orchestrations for “Next to Normal”)  & Lin-Manuel Miranda ( 2008 Best Original Score for “In the Heights” and Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Drama; the Lyrics are by Amanda Green, whose musical “Hands on the Hardbody” will open on Broadway in 2013& Lin-Manuel Miranda; there is not an adult role in this Broadway show, entitled “Bring It On--The Musical.”

 

While the score is less than fabulous ---I cannot remember one melody-- the energy, talent, and positive message of “Bring It On”, Directed and Choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, winner of the Tony and Outer Critics and Drama Desk Awards for his Choreography for “In the Heights”, is gleefully spirited and good family fare. I think it is an excellent gift for the Hannukah/Xmas season.  The essence of the plot revolves around a cheerleading squad of Truman High School. They are on the way to win at the Nationals, a stiff competition, when lovely, blond Campbell, played sweetly yet too weakly by Taylor Louderman, who has not yet graduated from the University of Michigan, finds she is redistricted to Jackson, a high school with a very different ethnic population.  The only other student she knows is pudgy Bridget, who has been forced to be the mascot at Truman. Ryann Redmond is super phenomenal as this girl who finds herself and is finally appreciated for her talents at Jackson. 

 

Campbell has a hard time breaking into the dance crew, led by the beautiful Danielle. Proving herself in a Leprechaun outfit, Campbell starts a cheer-leading squad with her new African American, Latino and transvestite pals. She's out to get revenge on Eva, the pretty, tiny Elle McLemore, who stole her leadership and her boyfriend.  The end is not too saccharine and underscores the fact that winning is not everything.

 

David Korins' Set, brilliantly Lit by Jason Lyons, with Videos by Jeff Slugg and Costumes by Andrea Lauer are all colorful.  Heads up to Jason Gotay who plays Randall, Campbell's sage love interest, and Dance and Stunt Captain, Rod Harrelson, who kept the pace going under difficult circumstances. 

 

“Bring It On”  at the St. James Theatre only through January 20.

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