It's amazing to me that Broadway keeps looking to Hollywood for its hits, especially since there are so many great original musicals and plays still being written today. And yet, every now and then a movie is reworked so much that it's almost unrecognizable from the movie, and it works. Bring It On the Musical brings together a bevy of talented people who makeover, what is potentially pretty fluffy material, into something much more appealing. Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q) has remade the original script into something much funnier and more socially conscious than it originally was, and Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights) have crafted some damn catchy little ballads and hip hop tunes, while Amanda Green (High Fidelity) and Miranda have accentuated the humorous tone with their lyrical contributions. So, is it any good? Yes, it's actually a blast of a show that combines eye-popping acrobatic cheerleading scenes with amusing scenes and songs that keep the mood generally upbeat.
Campbell is all about cheerleading. It's in her blood, and yet on the cusp of her Senior year, her house is suspiciously redistricted, and she's bound to attend Jackson High, which hasn't had a squad since the last one took hostages. Add to that, the fact the her second in command (Skylar) can't meet the meager grade point average required, her second in command has mononucleosis (Kylar, changed from Inez because Skylar said she should), and that her third in command is basically a miniature clone of her (Eva), and you have the situation. She's left trying to fit in at a more culturally mixed school that has a hip hop “crew”, not a squad that cheers. But, when she suspects foul play with the way the redistricting was handled, and the fact that little Eva may have taken away her boy friend as well, you're basically set up for the second, energy-filled, act that follows.
Taylor Louderman is exceptional as Campbell; she dances up a storm (complete with athletic moves), and then belts out several tunes with gusto, all while completely captivating the crowd. Kate Rockwell is a minor riot as her evil friend, Skylar, and Janet Krupin is equally funny, if not more so, as Kylar. Elle McLemore makes an impression as the Campbell-obsessed Eva, and Neil Haskell is continually soothing as Steven. Ryann Redmond is terrific as Bridget, who's only an overweight mascot at Truman, while at Jackson her booty earns her a spot on the crew. Jason Gotay is very good as Campbell cheer-phobic boyfriend, and Gregory Haney is amusing as tranny La Cienega. Adrienne Warren is solid as the leader of the hip hop crew, who wouldn't be caught dead with a set of pom poms.
Director/Choreographer Alex Lacamoire (In the Heights) brings a vibrant enthusiasm to this show that's in keeping with its basic setting. This should be a high energy show, and it is. The moves and the acting are just the right amount over the top to be entertaining. The set design is brilliant, working in tandem with Jeff Sugg's video designs, to allow for fast transitions. Jason Lyon's lighting scheme is generally akin to a rock concert, but that's in keeping with the overall mood as well. Andrea Lauer's costumes make for some awfully sexy cheerleaders.
This high octane production of Bring It On the Musical at the Fox (through April 8, 2012) is well worth your time. Go see it!