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Bring It On The Musical – Review

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by Shannon Meyerkort (subscribe)
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Bring It On - The Musical
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There's a truth universally acknowledged that if an idea does well in one medium, you should try and re-make it in another. Book to movie. TV show to movie. Movie to musical. Hence the remaking of 2000 cheerleading classic movie Bring It On into a stage musical.

But if you're going to remake a cult movie into a stage show, add music where there was none and completely re-write the story, you need some serious heavy hitters behind it, which is why Bring It On the Musical comes from a team which includes Tony Award-winning writer Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), Tony Award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights, Hamilton), Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning composer Tom Kitt and Broadway lyricist Amanda Green (High Fidelity).

The first thing you need you know is that Bring It On the Musical is not a rehashing of the movie. The characters are different, the storyline is different. There is no Sparky Polastri, few noticeable spirit fingers and no crude jokes about spanky pants. The musical, while fun, is more serious; the messages of feminism, diversity and acceptance much closer to the surface.

Bring It On the Musical follows the story of Campbell (like the soup) who – in her senior year of high school - has finally reached her life goal of being captain of the Truman High cheerleading squad. But after being re-districted, she finds herself instead at Jackson High, and suddenly her blue-eyed, blonde whiteness finds herself in a minority. 'Love you – don't get shot!' says one of her former classmates.

Can she convince the local hip hop dance crew to join her and compete in the National Cheerleading Championships?
Well, obviously she does, otherwise there wouldn't be a story, but it is the process Campbell goes through, and the journey she undertakes that makes the story what it is (and provides context for one of the funniest jokes about lack of personal growth).

There is lots to admire about the musical, not least the athleticism of the performers, some of whom are professional cheerleaders, performing their dazzling tricks on a stage that seems perilously small. The forced squeaky voices of the Truman cheerleaders grates and makes it difficult to catch all their lines, but the scenes set in Jackson High, and the blend between hip-hop and cheerleading are by contrast smooth and mesmerising.

There is a bit of a love story, a few in fact, but these take a back-seat to the relationships between the female characters, including daggy Bridget, who is probably the most relatable person I have ever seen on stage. The set design is refreshingly simple, the cast genuinely diverse and the choreography world-class.

As in the movie, the final scenes at Nationals is what you spend your time anticipating, and you won't be disappointed.

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Why? Bring It On cult movie made into a musical
When: August 8th to 18th, 2019
Where: His Majesty’s Theatre, 825 Hay Street, Perth
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