TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE: “Bring It On: The Musical”
“Inspired” by the fabulously fizzy Kirsten Dunst film, rival cheering squads square off in a musical written by some of the biggest new school talent in the business, Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), Lin Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and Amanda Green (Hands on a Hard Body).
“While it has its moments of memorable wit and some appealing rhythmic Broadway-pop songs, Bring It On … has the feel of a daffy lark embarked upon as a summer-vacation goof.” New York Times
“…genuinely highflying, hyper-gymnastic and surprisingly savvy-sweet cheerleader musical…” Newsday
“Strong performances from a personable cast, athletically impressive staging and an engaging score combine to make Bring It On a pert and refreshing summer surprise.” Variety
“Not quite championship material, but an enjoyable teen confection that literally hits its share of heights.” Hollywood Reporter
Mizer’s Two Cents: Exuberantly performed and at times subversively funny, Bring It On might not be the next Sunday in the Park with George (and why would it be) but it’s an entertaining ride for anyone who’s ever fantasized about shaking their pompoms. Beyond the justifiably acclaimed acrobatics, best in show goes to a deep bench of young Broadway newbies (including the commanding leading ladies Taylor Louderman and Adrienne Warren as well as stealth comedy weapon Ryann Redmond) who keep you smiling and engaged even when the show takes an unsupported flip.
Jeff Whitty’s bedazzled book takes off when it finally arrives at a rival “wrong side of the tracks” high school, allowing him to fire off cultural confusion gags and pop culture riffs. What might be surprising to musical aficionados, given the undeniably gifted writers involved, is that the score is more about rhythm, musically and lyrically, then it is about traditional theater songs. I think the decision is intentional and smart. It makes sense to provide a propulsive engine beneath a show that is ultimately about hanging out and dancing with your friends; we don’t want these characters to stop and sing for long; we want them to fly.
A side note: I’m not usually one to worry about whether a show has a good message or not but I must give the creative team kudos for some nicely handled themes. It’s not a bad time to have a story that looks at how we judge true success and their depiction of a cross-dressing dance diva is refreshing for its lack of “after school special” significance.