Atlanta Art Reviews by Susan K Asher
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Rah! Rah! Rah! for
‘Bring It On: The Musical’

2011 February 1
Photo: Greg Mooney

Photo: Greg Mooney

Three cheers for “Bring it On: The Musical.” Better yet, make it 300 cheers!

“Bring It On” brings a great script, fantastic choreography and dancing, fine singing, acting and tumbling, and witty lyrics to the Alliance Theatre.  This show’s energy could boil a pot of water.

A Tony Award-winning crew has put together a spectacular story, with funny lines, true-to-life characters, fantastic choreography and music that runs the gamut from hip-hop, to rock (with a nod to Bohemian Rhapsody), to mainstream Broadway-style show tunes.

Finally, at the end of her junior year in high school, Campbell fulfills her life-long dream of being named cheerleading captain. She holds cheerleading tryouts, and against the wishes of the other cheerleaders, she allows a freshman, Eva, to join the Varsity cheerleading squad. Campbell also makes Eva a third alternate to take over the title of captain, should anything happen to her.

Just a couple of weeks before her senior year at Truman high school is to begin, the school board votes on redistricting. A new district line is drawn between her house and that of her next door neighbor, Eva.

Campbell is forced to attend Jackson High, where there is no cheerleading squad and the popular kids are hip-hop dancers who work in burger shops, unlike her friends at Truman who are given cars and don’t work.

While jokes about cheerleaders and high school life are bandied about, the characters are so true-to-life. They aren’t imitations of the Goth, hippies, Barbie-doll girls and hip-hop crowds. They’re all there, but they’re tough, funny and vulnerable. They are people you’ve seen and known, not silly parodies.

These characters are fun to watch, especially Campbell, who dresses in a leprechaun outfit on a dare just to fit in with the Jackson cool crowd. The perky, pretty blonde learns how to jive with the hip-hop dance crew, which includes a black transsexual sporting a large ‘70s-style afro.

Costumes normally pass me by, but these costumes are so real and so hip, from the Goth combat black leather boots to the Velvet Underground T-shirts to the large, gold oversized earrings. The street clothes are colorful yet stand out in an understated way.

Making its world premiere at the Alliance Theatre, “Bring it On: The Musical” is the musical version of the hit cheerleading movie “Bring It On.” Although I’ve never seen the movie, I understand the musical differs in the story line.

With an original book by Tony Award-winner Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), music and lyrics by Tony Award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), music by Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning composer Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and lyrics by Broadway lyricist Amanda Green (High Fidelity), “Bring It On: The Musical” is most likely Broadway bound. The production is directed and choreographed by Tony Award-winner Andy Blankenbuehler (In the Heights).

The lead actors include Amanda Lea LaVergne (Campbell), who recently performed in “Grease” and “All Shook Up” on Broadway; Adrienne Warren (Danielle), fresh from the recent national tour of “Dreamgirls;” and Nick Blaemire (Randall), who appeared in the original Broadway production of “Cry-Baby.”

The cast includes some of the nation’s most skilled cheerleaders, whose combined achievements include more than 25 national titles and 50 team titles in gymnastics and choreography.

There are very few productions I would like to see twice. But this one? Bring it on!

“Bring It On: The Musical” runs through Feb. 20 at the Alliance Theatre.

Cast:

Antwan Bethea, Nick Blaemire, Courtney Corbelle, Ariana DeBose, Brandon Espinoza, Kelly Felthous, Shawn Alynda Fisher, Brooklyn A. Frietag, Gregory Haney, Rod Harrelson, Dominique Johnson, Stephanie C. Klemons, Janet Krupin, Amanda Lea LaVergne, Melody Mills, Michael Mindlin, Griffin Myers, Michael Naone-Carter, David Ranck, Ryann Redmond, Elena Ricardo, Kate Rockwell, Billie Sue Roe, Jon Rua, LaQuet Sharnell, Ephraim M. Sykes, Sheldon Tucker, Adrienne Warren, Lauren Whitt

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