Bring It On at Southwark Playhouse

Bring it on
Bring It On at Southwark Playhouse

Bring It On The Musical is based on the film of the same name. By Lin -Manuel Miranda (music and lyrics) of Hamilton fame, Tom Kitt (music), Jeff Whitney (original story) and Amanda Green (lyrics). It tells of Campbell, the captain of the cheerleading squad at Truman High School. However her dream is soon shattered when she is moved to Jackson High School…..a school which doesn’t even have a cheer squad. She tries to get in with the school’s dance squad in order to form their own cheer squad to compete against her old team at Nationals.

Bring it onThe show is a clever choice by the British Theatre Academy as the majority of the cast should be playing age 15 – 19, meaning that most of them can play their own age. However the show is a challenging one which not only requires a huge amount of dance ability but also the ability to cheer and numerous cast numbers with an ability to belt some of the huge numbers in the score.

The British Theatre Academy succeed on some of these counts. Robyn McIntyre played Campbell and she handled the challenging songs with confidence and gusto. Isabella Pappas as Skylar also keeps up the bitchy facade throughout and knocks her number, ‘Tryouts’ out of the park. Kristine Kruse as Bridget, the Truman High mascot gets a lot of laughs but triumphs as the part of the dance squad at Jackson and wins the audience over in moments.  There were a few moments with other members of the cast where they struggled with some of the bigger moments in the score however as I said before the sing is a big ask of any cast, especially one this age.

One of the aforementioned challenges with this show is the sheer amount of cheerleading in it and the teams are competing at national level so you expect high standards. A combination of restriction of space in the venue and inexperience in cheer (although clearly strong dancers) means that this side of the show is disappointing. I also found that energy waned at times in the big cheer numbers and I wanted more attack.

Bring it onWhilst the cheer side of the dance was disappointing I enjoyed the dance a lot more when they weren’t trying to cheer, in particular as soon as they hit Jackson High. La Cienega, played by Matthew Brazier oozed sass whenever he danced and the chemistry between him and his fellow dance squad members, Danielle played by Chisara Agor and Nautica played by Mary Celeste sizzled.

The young cast delivered the book well. TAs the comedy is aimed at their generation they delivered it with joy and understanding. Whilst there is no subtlety to the show, it doesn’t pretend to be deep – it is a lot of fun. It is a cast recording I could easily listen to time and time again. Whilst the BTA’s performance of Bring It On was flawed in places you can’t help but leave this show smiling.

Bring it On is playing at Southwark Playhouse until the 2nd September. To find out more about the show and the British Theatre Academy visit their website. 

If you like this review you might also like my review of A Little Princess, Hamilton and Madagascar.

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