Providence Performing Arts Center
April 24, 2012
Background: Rounding up the season at the Providence Performing Arts Center is Bring It On: The Musical. Likely viewed as the underdog in a season that included Les Miserables, Mary Poppins, and The Addams Family, there were many preconceptions about the show that bypassed Broadway to become a national tour. Viewers have termed the show “predictable”, “cheesy”, “for teeny-boppers”, and “wasted talent”, despite a creative team that boasts credits which include the Tony award winning musical, In the Heights, and the Tony award winning and Pulitzer prize winning musical, Next to Normal.
Synopsis: Campbell, a popular cheerleader, is about to start her senior year of high school, and as captain of her cheerleading squad, she dreams of taking the team to “Nationals”. Her plans are destroyed when a seemingly sweet sophomore cheerleader named Eva overtakes the squad by having Campbell transferred to Jackson High School which, to Campbell’s dismay, does not have a cheerleading squad. At the multicultural Jackson High, Campbell finds herself in the minority for the first time, but sets out to start a new cheerleading squad and fulfill her dream of going to nationals.
Comments: If you are planning to see Bring It On, I would recommend forgetting what you’ve heard or what you think you know about the show, and enter the theatre with a clean slate. Bring It On was not at all what I expected. The rap-infused, R&B score screams Lin Manuel Miranda- this is not a bad thing- and leaves you humming some of the more memorable melodies as you leave the theatre. The choreography included three extensive cheer routines that were quite impressive and obviously very different from what you typically see in the theatre. Seeing the actors perform flips in mid-air does put you at the edge of your seat. I enjoyed the choreography the most. The story-line was predictable, but embellished with enjoyable songs and dance/cheer numbers. What I liked about the story-line is that it didn’t copy the movies’. It was a new story that preserved the same themes as in the movies: high school rivalry, interracial friction, and teamwork to name a few.
Taylor Louderman and Adrienne Warren played rivals Campbell and Danielle respectively and I thought they had great chemistry together. I especially liked Adrienne Warren’s voice and I immediately thought that she would make a great Felicia in Memphis! Ryann Redmond as Bridget, the unpopular, dorky, perpetual school mascot turned cheerleader, probably steals the show. She nailed all of her lines and had the audience cracking up and rooting for her character. I really enjoyed her performance of “Ain’t No Thing” in particular. Kate Rockwell and Janet Krupin as Skylar and Kylar, Campbell’s shallow cheerleading friends, were also very funny. Elle McLemore as Eva played evil very well. Another strong voice was that of Jason Gotay who played Randall.
The Verdict: while Bring It On isn’t likely to win any Tony Awards, it is a fun night at the theatre. If you want to see some great cheerleading stunts, listen to some catchy music by the very talented Lin Manuel Miranda and Tom Kitt, and have some laughs, check out Bring It On at PPAC through 4/28/12! Or check out the recently released music sampler which contains three songs from the show- "It's All Happening", "Ain't No Thing", and "Enjoy the Trip".