This pom pom filled musical might be slight in story but it certainly has much to enjoy thanks to Fabian Aloise’s choreography.
Filled with plenty of stunning gymnastic inspired choreography, high levels of energy and joy and ultimately a corny story – there is certainly plenty to be enjoyed in Bring it On the Musical.
Having never seen the film, I went into the show not knowing what to expect (although I was told the story is not at all similar to the film). This perky show follows the fortunes of cheerleader Campbell who shortly after getting the position of head cheerleader at her school but is soon forced to transfer to Jackson High – a school without a cheerleading squad. At its centre it asks – how far would you go to get to the top? But there is as with all stories involving teenagers a focus on friendship and overcoming obstacles.
Directed with electrifying energy by Guy Unsworth, there is also a hint of nostalgia to be found in the way in which the story (which although ever so slightly weak and could use some more depth has enough to put a smile on your face) unfolds – it feels as though you really see each of the characters develop and soften as they begin to realise the important things in life.
With music by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda and lyrics by Amanda Green and Miranda, there are plenty of toe-tapping songs to be found. I particularly enjoyed the way in which the style of music changes according to which school the story is set at that particular moment. Combined with the stylish, gymnastic qualities of Fabian Aloise’s choreography, songs such as ‘It’s Happening’ and ‘We Ain’t No Cheerleaders’ really shine, while ‘Something Isn’t Right Here’ has a definite perky quality about it that brings to mind some of the songs from Legally Blonde the Musical.
For anyone who has ever watched Glee or anything like that popular television programme, Susan Kulkarni’s costume designs and Libby Watson’s set design will be very familiar – but somehow it adds to the nostalgia for anyone who like me grew up with a lot of teenage films set in high school in an endearing way.
It is not an easy task to find a cast that can do such a huge variety of skills that is of course not limited to singing and performing but also acrobatics – but Unsworth has managed to bring together a cast who are all electrifying to watch.
As Campbell, Amber Davies shows a lovely development of her character filled with determination but also vulnerability particularly during the scene when she moves schools and having to try to figure out where she ‘fits in’. But it would have been nice to have seen her relationship with Randall (Connor Carson) being developed further – but that is more down to the book’s flaw than the performance of either performer. Vanessa Fisher is dynamic as Danielle who doesn’t stand for any nonsense with powerful vocals to match, Jal Joshua is suitably sassy and spirited as La Cienega and Alicia Belgarde as Eva shows off her character’s transformation to comical and yet sadly true effect as the story unfolds.
Aside from deserving a stronger book, Bring it On the Musical is fun and entertaining to watch from start to finish and is sure to draw younger audience members to theatres when it embarks on its UK tour.
By Emma Clarendon
Bring it On continues to play at the Queen Elizabeth Hall until the 22nd January before embarking on a UK tour. . You can book tickets for the London run here.