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Play Review

Thursday, 1 December, 2011 8:32 PM

'Bring It On: The Musical' keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time

Photo credit: ©2011 Craig Schwartz

Elle McLemore, Janet Krupin, Kate Rockwell and Taylor Louderman in the national tour of "Bring It On: The Musical," which runs through Dec. 10 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.


by Jason Rzucidlo



LOS ANGELES -- It's just like the Bring It On movies, but better. I attended the Nov. 10 performance of the brand new musical, which is making its world premiere at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles. Even though the venue opened in 1967, it looks very modern inside, due to its 1994 renovation. This musical has never been seen in any other city before. The cast was very likeable and the story was easy to follow along with. The lighting and sound were spot on. I would encourage everyone to make it down to the Ahmanson to see "Bring It On: The Musical" before it wraps up on Dec. 10.

This musical reveals the peer pressures that competitive cheerleaders face. For some of them, life is not all rosy as it seems. You'll see the cheerleaders deal with hazing, popularity contests, not fitting in and friendships that don't work out.

The storyline: It is four weeks until Jackson High School faces Truman High School in the regional cheerleading competition. Taylor Louderman plays the female lead named Campbell. It is not until Campbell get redistricted to Jackson High and talks Danielle into turning her dance crew into a cheer squad that they actually compete against Truman. So the plot timeline is Campbell is entering her senior year at Truman High when her dreams all get derailed when she gets redistricted to the more urban Jackson High School. After learning that Jackson does not have a cheer squad she tries to talk Danielle into creating a new squad with her hip-hop dance crew. She gets turned down at first but Campbell lies about all the fame and fortune that come with winning the national title and Danielle falls for it. After Jackson loses at regionals, but earns enough points to go to nationals, Danielle learns of Campbell’s lies and confronts her – as well as disbands the Jackson cheer squad.

"I think the audience will be surprised at how different the stage musical is from the movies," said actress Janet Krupin, who plays Kylar in the musical. "The movies kicked off a tradition of dark comedy, witty satire, and of course epic cheer performances, but our show really takes off it's a direction entirely its own. The live musical medium, more so than film, allows for us to really intimately know these young people, cheerleaders, who are so passionate about what they do. And what they do is really, really, fun to watch. And it's LIVE... there are absolutely no wires involved. How many shows with aerial components can say that?"

In the meantime, over at Truman High the sophomore upstart, Eva, has become the captain of the squad and is running the show. Campbell has now learned through Bridget (who was also redistricted to Jackson) that it was Eva who concocted the plan to have Campbell ousted from Truman High by having her mother (who is on the school board) do the redistricting move that got Campbell out of the picture. Danielle, who works nights at the Burger Pagoda, has an encounter with Eva one night and learns of her “evil plan” and makes up with Campbell. The two decide to put the squad back together and practice for nationals.

"Bring It On: The Musical" ran for two hours and 20 minutes with a 15-minute intermission in the middle. The cast was dressed in cheerleading uniforms for about half of the musical and street clothes for the remainder of it. The set changes several times. In one scene, it was a bedroom set while it featured lunch tables and lockers in another scene. In addition, the stage looked like a burger restaurant for a different scene.

The cheerleaders performed all types of stunts. They did the toe touch basket toss, handstand pyramid and a back tuck basket toss. There was no mat – so it was extremely dangerous.

My favorite scene was the one that featured the song "Cross The Line." It was basically Truman High School's cheer tryouts for the finals competition. The cast put on an amazing performance that left the audience speechless.

One of the actors mentioned that NBA star Michael Jordan was once a cheerleader. However, he was one of the lies that Campbell tells Danielle to talk the character Cameron into joining the squad. Her point was the fact that cheerleaders can be popular and yes, it is a true sport.

This musical will keep you wondering which team is going to take first place at the regionals? Which team is going to win the finals? The cheerleaders learn an important lesson about life. You'll have to see "Bring It On: The Musical" to find out what that is.

"Well, I went to college for musical theater, so that part is exactly what I studied and trained for," said actress Kate Rockwell, who plays the role of Skylar. "The cheerleading, however, is a whole other story. I've never cheered, and I'm not much of a dancer either (we call my type a "strong mover" in New York), so there were giant hills to climb for me when I started working with this show. I remember the first day I ran in to catch a falling stunt and thought to myself, 'I'm a real cheerleader!!!' I've been with it for almost two years now and I can still say I'm blown away by the incredible physical feats my cast pulls off every night. And I can also say I am very very happy I was hired as a singer/actor who gets to mostly just watch those feats!!"

"Bring It On: The Musical" is directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler. Kristin Caskey and Mike Isaacson are the executive producers. The music was written by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda while the lyrics are by Amanda Green & Lin-Manuel Miranda. Louderman and Adrienne Warren are the main stars. Also starring in this new musical are Jason Gotay, Elle McLemore, Ryann Redmond and more.

I would recommend this musical for everyone. If you have seen the Bring It On movies, then you have a little more background than others. However, if you haven't seen the movies, you will still be able to follow along just fine. It is very family friendly, so be sure to bring the kids!

Ticket Prices: $20 - $120 (Ticket prices are subject to change.) Tickets are available by calling Center Theatre Group Audience Services at (213) 972-4400, in person at the Center Theatre Group box office or on-line at Hot Tix: $20 each may be purchased in advance or, subject to availability, on the day of performance at the box office (no checks). Groups: (213) 972-7231. Deaf community: Information & charge, TDD (213) 680-4017. The Ahmanson Theatre is located at 135 N. Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, 90012.

Related Story: 'Bring It On: The Musical' to premiere at L.A.'s Ahmanson Theatre on Oct. 30


Photo credit: ©2011 Craig Schwartz

The cast of the national tour of "Bring It On: The Musical," which continues through Dec. 10 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.




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Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved.
Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer.