At the Looby Theater in Metro Center, Circle Players are performing Bring It On: The Musical. Written originally by Lin-Manuel Miranda, it conjures up the classic teen cheerleader movie starring Kirsten Dunst and gives it a modern twist. This show provides a poignant look into race issues that exist in today's younger generation.
The show begins by telling the story of Campbell, a cheerleader at a well-to-do white school. She becomes captain of the cheer squad. She has everything it would seem until a letter comes in the mail changing her life completely. She's been redistricted to a majority minority school that doesn't even have a cheer squad. She does find out, however, there is a dance crew ran by the vivacious Danielle. Problem is, she had her own crew and did not want a rich little white girl anywhere near it. The story goes on to teach friendships, acceptance, honesty, and teamwork.
This production is directed by Jason Lewis, the creator of viral web character Loretta Jenkins (warning: this video is NSFW). His brilliance shines as usual. This cast has been crafted with a few familiar local faces, but most are new and fresh. The dancing in this show is some of the most extensive and impressive I've seen for our typical local theater circuit. Usually, I'm ready to read local dancing-centric shows for filth. I don't know how Jason did it, but he's thrown together some really impressive triple threats to craft this show. Favorites were:
Toryn Brown who played Danielle's sidekick La Cienega, a trans character who stole the show several times with a great voice and dance moves. Notably, the focus on the characters gender identity is treated such a way that it's not a focus of the show. It's barely even a blip on the radar. It's much more focused on the fact that she is just a part of every day life, which is refreshing, honestly.
Maddie Menendez is the preeminent lovable nerdy girl playing Bridget, the friend who sticks by lead Campbell through all the stunts she pulls. Her voice packs a wallop and she is absolutely hilarious. She puts the show in the must see column.
This is a perfect show to take your teenagers to see as the school year starts. It would be a good reminder for those of middle and high school ages to treat everyone with dignity and respect. If you're a social justice advocate, you'll appreciate the story from that point of view as well.
I feel strange recommending this play. On the surface, it sounds awful. It was a turn of the millennium b-class teen movie that has been turned into a musical. We've all seen it done (I'm looking at you Legally Blonde: The Musical) but, frankly, it is very well done. Jason Lewis is one of the best directors in this city and one of the very few who could have actually pulled this off.
It's not one of those that I'm saying "if you've got time, go see it."
I'm saying "make time, go see it."
Performances of Bring It On: the Musical run through August 27 at Z. Alexander Looby Theater, 2301 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm with a Sunday matinee (August 27) at 3:00 pm. All tickets are $20 except for Thursdays, when tickets are $10 (service fee will be added at checkout). Assigned seating is available for all performances. Tickets may be purchased online.