Friday, May 4, 2012

BRING IT ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Dubbed the Citizen Kane of cheerleading movies by Roger Ebert, the film version of Bring It On (2000) starred Kirsten Dunst and spawned four direct to video sequels. The musical version, currently running at the Ed Mirvish theatre, is a spine-tingling action packed showcase for a hybrid musical form filled with athletic dance sequences of Olympic caliber and top notch performances by a young cast that brings new meaning to youth culture and the pursuit of extracurricular excellence.

 If you have fond memories of being frightened by the daredevil acts at the circus then this is the show for you. Past reviewers have suggested that the cast should rack up frequent flyer miles for the amount of time they spend soaring into the rafters during an abundance of gravity defying moments filled with sheer strength, power, and incredible grace. The young women in the chorus prove, with a vengeance, the old saying about Ginger Rogers having to do everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels. There are moments when the sheer physical skill and magnitude of their awe-inspiring flights high above a bevy of young men waiting to catch them is hard to believe. Twists and turns in the air, back flips across the stage, and intricately choreographed numbers throughout give the two-hour extravaganza a thrilling fast paced energy achieved by a gifted cast of eighteen young men and women.

The story line is a familiar and effective rivalry narrative that reminds one of films like All About Eve - and during the sardonic competition based songs there are lyrical traces of the complex warring female relationships set to music in the ever popular Wicked . A standout performance by Ryann Redmond as Bridget and Gregory Haney as La Cienaga give the plot a strong, moving and hilarious outcast motif that has the two characters who don’t quite fit in excelling among a community of sympathetic and incredibly supportive comrades. 

Taylor Louderman, Kate Rockwell, Janet Krupin, Ariana DeBose, and Elle McLemore create a layered ensemble of loveable, self-proclaimed “beeyotches” as they define what could have been one-dimensional roles with superb vocal nuance and impressive physical prowess - singing and dancing their way through various forms of high school mayhem with a detailed, sharp witted talent for distinct characterization. Nicolas Womack’s Twig handles complex rap and hip hop elements with incredible articulation and a charming quirkiness that has him smirking, flirting, and bouncing through a fun-filled romantic scenario. And there is an outrageous and divine Leprechaun scene that gives Taylor Louderman’s immense skill as a dancer the opportunity to shine in a very cumbersome and delightful costume - bringing new meaning to the famous Muppet phrase “It isn’t easy being green.”

The music is infectious, diverse, impeccably performed and non-stop, with a mixture of styles that meld seamlessly into a powerful score. It’s all kind of like My Fair Lady on Mars with Henry Higgins as a female cheerleading coach and Eliza Doolittle as a bubbly teenybopper trying to make her way through a complex set of class, race, and gender circumstances. Well, not really - ultimately it’s a fresh and affirming type of athletic musical comedy that is sure to be a crowd pleasing experience - running at the Ed Mirvish Theatre until June 3rd.

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