Southwark Playhouse, London – until 1 September 2018
If like me, you’re constantly in a state of missing In the Heights, then the British Theatre Academy’s production of Bring It On is just the energetic, humorous, heartfelt fix you need.
Based on the 2000 hit film, Bring It On follows cheer-royalty Campbell whose future is looking bright. She’s just been named cheer captain for her senior year and is hoping to lead her team to National’s glory. However, a sudden redistricting means she has to transfer to neighbouring Jackson High School where everything she knows is turned upside down…
With music by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s no surprise that the score is incredibly catchy and fast-paced; hip-hop influences are seamlessly entwined with classic musical theatre tunes. Whilst the plot line is nothing new it is suitably modern and has the overarching messages of teamwork and empowerment which are always welcome.
Once Campbell is thrown into her new school world, things really get going. Former cheer mascot Bridget finds a new lease of life and an acceptance that she’s never previously experienced, whilst, Campbell begins to realise that social conformity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The young, vibrant cast do an outstanding job of bringing the school halls and cheer routines to life. Robyn McIntyre is wonderfully emotive and vocally stellar as the front-woman who drives the story onwards. Alongside her, Kristine Kruse provides not only comic relief, but great vocals and brings the message of unity to life. Isabella Pappas is brilliantly and brutally expressive as the token mean girl Skylar, also providing some shining vocal moments.
Other standouts include Clark James, Mary Celeste and Haroun Al-Jeddal who all draw the eye throughout and add a mountain of energy to an already highly spirited production.
Ewan Jones’ choreography is sharp and works well in the small space of the Southwark Playhouse, providing enough movement to keep both the audience and the cast always on their toes and with enough cheer movements to keep the theme without it becoming tacky. Tom Paris’ set alongside Ben Jacobs’ lighting add even more fun and brightness to the show.
Of course this isn’t a groundbreaking story but performed in such a vigourous and dynamic way, you can’t help but love it. The entire cast give phenomenal performances and Bring It On is the high-kicking, fun-for-all show to put a smile on your face and a pep in your step.
Bring It On runs at the Southwark Playhouse until September 1st.
photo credit: Eliza Wilmot