It’s been ten years since Bring It On was first made into a musical. These days it has interest as a piece of Lin-Manuel Miranda juvenila, pre-Hamilton and co-created with others.
Jeff Whitty’s book is light on both plot and characterisation, so we are left with a dance musical which inevitably takes a while to get going.
Tom Kitt and Miranda worked on the music, Amanda Green and Miranda on the lyrics. In a standoff hetween Truman (rich kids) and Jackson (street kids) there’s a clash of culture present in movement, music, and motivation.
A puppet backing chorus on ‘Killer Instinct’ surely nods back to Whitty’s involvement in subversive musical Avenue Q, while the persuasive style of ‘It Ain’t No Thing’ as Nautica (Georgia Bradshaw) and La Cienega (Jal Joshua’s stunning moves) school Bridget in how to chase boys made me think of the strippers aiding Louise in Gypsy‘s ‘You Gotta Have a Gimmick’.
Amber Davies leads the show as Campbell, a cheerleader captain obsessed with the moves and the chance to get a trophy. Rarely off the stage, she seems to have endless reserves of energy and sings, dances and acts the part well.
As Danielle, crew leader at the tough Jackson school, Vanessa Fisher is just as much a match for Davies – her routines steal the show and her character possibly has the most undertapped depth.
Two major roles were covered at last night’s performance – recent graduate Oliver Adam-Reynolds made the most of what’s really a small role as Cameron, showing his gymnastic prowess and adding a fair bit of charm.
Kenedy Small, in her professional debut, proved a little firecracker as Bridget, her manic enthusiasm and showmanship here is sure to take her far in future roles.
Over on the traditional cheerleading side, Skylar and Kylar (“I’m really Annette”) are surely 21st century Pink Ladies (think Grease) and are smartly played by Chloe Pole and Biancha Szynal. Alicia Belgarde’s Eva floats between vacuous hero worship and deranged ambition.
This is a fun night out with some top moves, and even a cliff top walk which brings romance for Campbell and Randall (Connor Carson). Libby Watson’s set brings back the school gymnasium, with a few hidden touches, while Fabian Aloise’s choreography remains vibrant.
Bring It On continues at the Queen Elizabeth Hall until 22 January, then goes on tour. Book your tickets here.
Image credit: Helen Maybanks