Bring It On At Southbank Centre
Bring It On is a musical which is based on the 2000 film of the same name. It focuses on Campbell who is about to become a Senior and Cheer Squad Captain at Truman High School. Her life however gets turned upside down when she gets redistricted to Jackson High. At Jackson High Campbell is miles out of her comfort zone and she sets about trying to make friends and gt into their dance crew, in place of their cheer team. Meanwhile over at Truman High, a Sophomore Eva by a strange series of coincides ends up as captain.
Bring It On is a huge show which needs performers that can no only sing, act and dance but performers who can cheer to a high level as well. The success of the show hinges on the success of these cheer routines, as so much time is spent talking about cheerleading and winning competitions that the routines need to be what the song says ‘Legendary.’ Luckily the choreography by Fabian Aloise was just that, the cast literally flipped and flew their way around the stage. Not only that but the contrast in dance styles between Truman and Jackson High was really distinct and successful physical demonstrating in showing just how much Campbell would have to change to fit in.
Whilst the entire cast, lead by Amber Davis as Campbell, were excellent there were 2 stand out performers in my eyes. The first of this was Chelsea Hall as Bridget. Bridget is a character who as Truman dreams of being a cheerleader but when she arrives at Jackson she is welcomed with open arms. Hall is outstanding in this role, warm, self-depreciating, brilliantly funny as well as an incredible singer. The other standout performer was Jal Joshua as La Cienga. There was a huge amount of controversy around the casting of this part, especially when the original tour cast announced a cis man in the role. Luckily when putting the show back together after lockdown they listened to the trans community and cast Jal Joshua in the role. I am so thankful that they did, not only did it ensure representation for the trans community in this role but Jal Joshua was incredible. They span around shouldering their leg, twerked and whipped their hair so hair I am amazed that they didn’t give themselves whiplash. The number ‘It Ain’t No Thing,’ that featured Bridget, La Cienga as well as Georgia Bradshaw as Nautica was one of my highlights of the show due to the incredible performances.
The other star casting is Louis Smith as basketball obsessed Cameron. Whilst Smith flips his way with ease through many of the numbers he seems more awkward when he has to act or rap and you wonder with such a strong cast around him if a ‘star name’ was really needed in this role. Amber Davies on the other hand, whilst a star name has earned the right to be called a leading lady. She seems most at home when she is able to belt out the solo numbers such as ‘One Perfect Moment’ however she easily convinces as a cheer captain and when she is flying during the cheer numbers she convinces me that it was indeed something she was born to do!
The set by Libby Watson was kept relatively simple with a look inspired by an American High School gym. The bleachers moved and revolved which not only ensure that they were plenty of opportunity for height during the choreography but for the scenes that did take place outside of the school the bleachers could be used to change the location swiftly and easily.
Bring It On is full of pep and cheer and may just be the perfect piece of theatre for a night of escapism and fun and to me that is exactly what we need right now!!
Bring It On is playing at the Southbank Centre until 22nd January and it then continues its UK tour. To find out more and to book tickets visit their website.