|BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL
About Bring It On: The Musical
So many movie-to-stage-musical adaptations don't even try. The scripts are recycled (practically scene by scene in some cases), songs are added and off to Broadway they go. But aside from the barest of plot elements—rival cheerleading squads from disparate high schools compete to become state champions—the creators of Bring It On: The Musical have invented a completely new story and characters. Making the show their own, however, doesn't mean that they've brought great depth or intricacy to it; actually it's the theatrical equivalent of a fun, light summer read, with some stunning, acrobatic dance numbers in which women are tossed and flipped about.
But Broadway musical prices may be more than many audiences are willing to pay for a musical whose material is a cross between chirpy teen fare and sassy stylish comedy. Even one that benefits from director-choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler’s spectacularly solid production. The book, by Avenue Q’s Jeff Whitty, unfolds around perky, blond high school senior Campbell (Taylor Louderman), whose chief concern before graduation is leading her squad to the state cheerleading championship. When redistricting sends her to an inner-city school without cheerleaders, she tries to lure a bunch of her racially diverse new classmates into forming a competing squad, then must decide how far she’s willing to go to get that trophy.
What follows is only semi-predictable, and the terrifically appealing young cast, most of whom are making their Broadway debuts, are first-rate triple threats, notably Adrienne Warren as Campbell’s new-school counterpart, Danielle; Gregory Haney as transvestite cheerleader La Cienega; Ryann Redmond as an overweight teen who goes from invisible to popular when she changes schools; and Kate Rockwell as one of Campbell’s old-school colleagues.
The score, a mixture of songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights) and Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and Amanda Green are pleasantly poppy if not especially memorable. But the same can't be said for Blankenbuehler’s soaring choreography, which leaves Bring It On—and a few of its cast members—airborne.
BY DIANE SNYDER
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Taylor Louderman, Adrienne Warren, Ryann Redmond, Elle McLemore, Jason Gotay, Ariana DeBose, Gregory Haney, Neil Haskell, Janet Krupin, Kate Rockwell, Nick Womack
St. James Theatre
246 West 44th St.
Neighborhood: West 40s
New York, NY 10036
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