Review Roundup: BRING IT ON- National Tour!
BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL is headed to Broadway following a tour that began in 2011. The show will play Broadway's St. James Theater, beginning previews on July 12th, opening August 1st and running through October 7th.
BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL is the new musical comedy that raises the stakes on over-the-top team rivalries. Set against the world of competitive cheerleading, this powerhouse new show hilariously proves that winning isn’t everything when it means losing something - or someone - you really care about. BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL combines an exciting fresh sound, gravity-defying choreography, and a thrilling story to create a total theatrical event worth cheering for.
Let's see what the critics had to say about the show while it was on tour...
Charles Isherwood, NY Times: The director and choreographer, Andy Blankenbuehler, has clearly schooled himself in the elaborate acrobatics that have become the standard for teams competing in the national finals, an event that has long been televised on ESPN. The primary delights in “Bring It On” are the breathtaking displays of human fireworks that send the show’s well-drilled dancers flying skyward, forming towering human pyramids, or tumbling across the stage backward, like electric-powered Slinkys.
Charles McNulty, LA Times: The intense cardio-dance routines, choreographed with gymnastic vim and vigor by the director, Andy Blankenbuehler, are a surefire way of raising the musical's pulse. They're also infinitely preferable to the cartwheels and somersaults of Jeff Whitty's protracted libretto (yes, they're calling this plot-heavy machine, inspired by the 2000 movie "Bring It On," written by Jessica Bendinger, a libretto). Whitty, who won a Tony for his book for "Avenue Q," is a geyser of kooky charm and clever reversals, but the story too often belabors what should be dispatched in theatrical shorthand.
Tanner Stransky, Entertainment Weekly: Bring It On: The Musical may be ready for a national tour, but seems more like junior varsity when it comes to Broadway. Some of the characters are pompom-wielding clichés, from the feisty fat girl Bridget (Ryann Redmond) to the mouthy, bitchy friend Skylar (Kate Rockwell). There are some rough patches in the overlong production: an under-the-surface swirl of racial drama that never quite gels; a pretty unnecessary love story for Campbell; and rage-filled dream interludes that are ripped from the movie but don't play so well on stage. And designer David Korins' sparse set, dominated by four moving screens, also leaves much to be desired.
Bob Verini, Variety: Judges would grant the highest scores to the score, which quickly dispels any apprehension about melding the disparate talents of "In the Heights" (Lin-Manuel Miranda), "High Fidelity" (Tom Kitt and Amanda Green) and "Next to Normal" (Kitt). Miranda surely took first chair in penning the funky rap for urban Jackson High, but the overall cohesion leaves no reason to disbelieve the team's claims of group accomplishment.
Timothy Kuryak, BroadwayWorld: The music and lyrics do the show no favors either. There is no incredible ballad, no truly incredible group number, or even a heartfelt duet. While not suggesting that a musical always has to have these things, unfortunately for something as American as cheerleading, you would think that the musical would have a number of catchy tunes that you'd remember days after you heard it. The musical styles of Kitt, who did an amazing job with "Next to Normal," and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote "In the Heights", simply don't lend themselves to this kind of subject matter. Both are highly skilled at a certain type of song, but the world of cheerleading just doesn't play to their strengths.
JOn Garcia, Pegasus News: The choreography for this musical is eye candy to the max. The cheerleading sections look both dangerous and exhilarating! Some of the girls are tossed so high into the air you swear they touch the roof the Music Hall. Many of the musical numbers have jaw-dropping, massive cardio work out choreography that this cast pulls off superbly. Their energy is so pumped up you wonder if they are given injections of Red Bull backstage between scenes.
Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle: The answer: a mildly entertaining if overlong, not very original show with no distinct voice. Also, not much relationship to Jessica Bendinger's screenplay that "inspired" the show, beyond the setting of high school cheerleading squads competing for the national championships.
Oliver Sava, TimeOut Chicago: Tom Kitt’s pop-rock and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop leanings create a score somewhere between Heights and High School Musical, but with none of the earworm songs of either. Though well-sung and danced, Bring It On doesn’t rise above the formulaic music and juvenile story; still, it soars when the squads leave behind their personal drama and let their athleticism do the talking.
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: Bring on the paint cans immediately, say I, and spray away (along with all the truly toxic pink) all those lame cheerleader gags, snappy one-liners in the hackneyed, played-out "Clueless" and "Mean Girls" modes, and all the other campery and frippery that bog down at least the first 25 percent of this show, an opening quarter that is, to put it frankly, so bad that it nearly chokes the entire evening. Read on, though, for the show recovers, remarkably, like a wounded cheerleader determined to rise again.
Joshua Ostroff, Huffington Post: Oh, and the other reason why it succeeds so well is that the producers hired Avenue Q's Jeff Whitty to write the new script and especially Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony-winning wunderkind behind Broadway hip-hop hit In the Heights as well as the awesome Electric Company revival, to give the musical an unexpectedly authentic hip-hop flair once the setting moves from a richie-rich high-school to an inner-city one.
Katie Buenneke, Neontommy: The cast is all very talented. Louderman's voice is lovely and clear, and she, like the rest of the cast, does a good job of cheering and singing simultaneously. Adrienne Warren is also fantastic as Danielle, Jackson's queen bee with an incredible voice.
Glenn Sumi, Now Toronto: There’s a bit too much story in Jeff Whitty’s book, which sends up everything from cheesy white-girl-in-the-hood movies to All About Eve. But the central character is more complex than she is in the movie, and there’s a refreshing approach to gender, bullying and sexual orientation.
Michael Morain, Des Moines Register: The hyperactive show that borrows its title and cheerleading-smackdown story from the 2000 movie starring Kirsten Dunst successfully combines a snarky script with some hip-hop tunes and enough calorie-burning aerobics to make Michelle Obama weep with joy.
Serita Stevens, LA Splash: There was cheering and clapping in the full house of the Ahmanson Theatre as the actors/performers of Bring It On, The Musical, strutted their stuff. With back flips, stands, singing and dancing abounding, the evening was an uplifting event for all those watching. Not unlike Hairspray, the masterful music was the type you wanted to sing along. I would be suprised if they don't do a recording of the event. The energy in the room was unbelievable. Almost like the operetta, Pirates of Penzance, the story was told mostly in song.
Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan, Herald Sun: “Bring It On: The Musical” is like high school itself – it gets better as it progresses, for the cast and the audience. It’s not until well into the first act that we really get a feel for the vocal range and dance skills of Louderman, and not until the second act that we really hear what Redmond can do. Both women are impressive.
Tobias Wray, Fayetteville Flyer: Unless fun is anathema to you, you will have a hard time not enjoying the vim and vigor of Bring It On! The Musical. The show, well, brings it. The fact that the director, Andy Blankenbuehler, is also the show’s choreographer should communicate to what extent. Performers are airborne or busting a move for most of their stage time, making for a pretty pumped up rendition of the high school triumph story (though fans of Glee, High School Musical, etc. will no doubt feel right at home). Of course, that also means a few songs sung a bit out of breath, but I think you’d have to be pretty stingy not to forgive it. As much as this is pure entertainment (and, as many will immediately realize, based on the popular movie franchise), the show also comes with some serious Broadway street cred.
Les Spindle, Backstage: "Glee" meets "A Chorus Line" meets "Legally Blonde" in the libretto by Jeff Whitty ("Avenue Q"), which shrewdly sends up the foibles of impetuous youths in its portrait of the fervent competitive spirit of status-conscious teenagers. The score by pedigreed Broadway craftsmen—music by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda and lyrics by Miranda and Amanda Green—delivers an amalgam of rap, rock, pop, and Broadway pizzazz. The upbeat and clever songs are smoothly integrated into the story.
Lawson Taitte, Dallas Morning News: Sometimes the show becomes formulaic, with its by-now stock characters such as the heavy girl and the cross-dressing guy. But Whitty tosses off an endless supply of clever lines, and the score has many strengths. The physical production, with its inventive use of video and spectacular lighting, contributes to the sense you’re seeing something first-rate.