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"Bring It On The Musical" at the St. James Theatre
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"Bring It On The Musical" at the St. James Theatre

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Universal Pictures, Beacon Communications
et al.
Present:

Bring It On
The Musical

(Bring It On Website)

Libretto by Jeff Whitty
Music by Tom Kitt & Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lyrics by Amanda Green & Lin-Manuel Miranda

Inspired by the Motion Picture, “Bring It On”, by Jessica Bendinger

At
St. James Theatre
246 West 44th Street
212.239.6200

Starring:
Taylor Louderman, Adrienne Warren
Jason Gotay, Ellie McLemore, Ryann Redmond
Ariana DeBose, Gregory Haney, Neil Haskell
Dominique Johnson, Janet Krupin, Kate Rockwell, Nicolas Womack

And an ensemble of actors/singers/dancers

Directed and Choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler
Music Supervision & Dance Arrangements: Alex Lacamoire
Set Design: David Korins
Costume Design: Andrea Lauer
Lighting Design: Jason Lyons
Sound Design: Brian Ronan
Video Design: Jeff Sugg
Hair & Wig Design: Charles G. LaPointe
Casting: Telsey + Company, Rachel Hoffman, CSA
Production Stage Manager: Bonnie Panson
Technical Supervisor: Jake Bell
Production Supervisor: Lisa Dawn Cave
Music Coordinator: Michael Keller
Press: The Hartman Group
Marketing: Type A Marketing/Anne Rippey
General Management: 321 Theatrical Management
Arrangements & Orchestrations: Alex Lacamoire & Tom Kitt
Music Director: Dave Pepin


Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 25, 2012 Matinee


My almost nine-year-old niece accompanied me to this show, and it was ebullient. A thin plot of warring teen cheerleader captains, some multicultural learning experiences, some youthful romances, some self-concept challenges, and some predictable teen meltdowns frame the robust, roaring athletics that bring the house down and “Bring It On”. You won’t leave humming anything, but you’ll be pumped up for the gym.

Taylor Louderman is Campbell, who excitedly wins Truman High, Cheerleader Squad Captain, only a couple of months before a Board member, whose daughter is now trained for the role, manipulates the redistricting zone and tosses Taylor to a more urban school, Jackson High. Sounds like a teen novel? Right. But this show has so much human warmth and so much outsized gymnastic entertainment that it’s worth the ticket, especially with a theater companion who’s on the edge of her seat. Adrienne Warren is Danielle, who comes to Taylor’s rescue, draws her into the urban dance crowd, gets her to pass a test (one gimmick I could have done without, with Taylor in a leprechaun costume for the Jackson rap team). There’s a burger joint scene, too, with Taylor and her new buddy, Bridget (Ryann Redmond), winning Danielle’s favor. Bridget had been a castoff at Truman, overweight and klutzy, but, at Jackson, they like individualism. In fact, another Jackson character, La Chienega, is Gregory Haney in drag, a huge audience hit. La Chienega could tough it out with the biggest and strongest rap guys onstage.

Kate Rockwell and Elle McLemore are Skylar and Eva, early friends and subsequent “frenemies”. The sarcastic wit that was bantered about between the girls from all the squads was the thread that wove the plot, added to a couple of romances for Bridget and Taylor with cool Jackson guys, and some revenge for a guy from Truman. The musical is loosely based on the Universal Pictures film, of which there are several sequels, with Jeff Whitty writing this book. Amanda Green and Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the song lyrics, and Tom Kitt and Mr. Miranda wrote the music. The wildly entertaining but instantly forgettable songs include “Tryouts”, “Friday Night Jackson”, “Eva’s Rant”, and “I Got You”, plus the title song, the Act I closer. But, it’s Andy Blankenbuehler, for direction and choreography, and Alex Lacamoire, for dance arrangements, who get the kudos for the astounding athletic feats. Both Truman and Jackson, of course, ended up with competing Cheer Squads, with Jackson adding some pulsating rap, and girls were tossed like batons high into the air, rolling about and landing effortlessly onto waiting widespread arms or onto a spot on the stage. Each feat, whether in “rehearsal” or “competition”, drew gasps and whoops from the crowd.

David Korins’ set is secondary to the open stage, as the athleticism is so expansive, but the moving scenes that were intrinsic to the plot were eye-catching and clever. Andrea Lauer created the cheerleading, rap, teen-in-school, La Chienega, and other costumes with an acute awareness not to overwhelm the action. Jeff Sugg did a video design that added interest, and Jason Lyons’ and Brian Ronan’s lighting and sound kept the pulse high. If you have theater companions that love explosive gymnastics, bring them along.



The Cast of
Bring It On: The Musical
Courtesy of Joan Marcus



Taylor Louderman and Adrienne Warren
in Bring It On: The Musical
Courtesy of Joan Marcus



Taylor Louderman and Jason Gotay
in Bring It On: The Musical
Courtesy of Joan Marcus



Ariana DeBose, Ryann Redmond,
Gregory Haney, in
Bring It On: The Musical
Courtesy of Joan Marcus



The Cast of
Bring It On: The Musical
Courtesy of Joan Marcus



The Cast of
Bring It On: The Musical
Courtesy of Joan Marcus



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net