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Review Roundup: BRING IT ON Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!

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Direct from a 13-city National Tour, Bring It On: The Musical, which began previews on Broadway on July 12, opened tonight, August 1, 2012 at The St. James Theatre for a 12-week limited engagement through Sunday, October 7, 2012. 

Bring It On: The Musical features a libretto by Tony Award winner Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), music and lyrics by Tony Award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights), music by Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning composer Tom Kitt (Next to Normal), lyrics by Broadway lyricist Amanda Green (High Fidelity) and music supervision by Tony and Grammy Award winner Alex Lacamoire (Wicked). The production is directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Andy Blankenbuehler (In the Heights). Let's see what the critics had to say about this new musical comedy!

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: While it has its moments of memorable wit and some appealing rhythmic Broadway-pop songs, “Bring It On” is by no means in the same league as those musicals [Next to Normal, In the Heights, Avenue Q], and has the feel of a daffy lark embarked upon as a summer-vacation goof…It’s when the cast members drop the bonding and the mean-girl bitching to take part in Mr. Blankenbuehler’s exciting cheerleading routines, arranging themselves into dazzling human starbursts, that “Bring It On” really brings something fresh to the ever-expanding roster of shows aimed at the teenage demographic.

Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press: Cheerleaders got crushed last season on Broadway when "Lysistrata Jones" hit the mat hard and never recovered. But "Bring It On: The Musical" has more – more athletics, more songs, more dazzle, more interesting characters. Someone may just need to regularly count the cheerleaders.

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: Is the show destined for a place in the musical-theater pantheon? Unlikely. But it scores points by reinventing rather than replicating the source material, sampling from a tasty selection of pop-cultural favorites. And the sheer athleticism of the event numbers – with whirling cheerleaders catapulted into the air and then caught in gasp-inducing basket tosses – provides enough genuine thrills to compensate for the stop-start storytelling. When the girls are airborne, the show soars.

Erik Haagensen, Backstage: "Bring It On: The Musical" aspires to be nothing more than a frothy distraction with just a hint of that time-honored moral "Winning isn't everything." This wisp of cotton candy about a high school cheerleading competition is "inspired" by the Universal Pictures film franchise of the same title. Aimed squarely at teenage girls and designed to tour the country, the show would probably feel more at home at Madison Square Garden than on the stage of the St. James Theatre.

Linda Winer, Newsday: This is a harmless entertainment, at least for the audience, cheerfully put together by such offbeat Tony winners as writer Jeff Whitty ("Avenue Q") composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda ("In the Heights") and composer Tom Kitt ("Next to Normal"). But for all the positive messages and appealing contributions from these new-generation pedigrees, the hero of the show must surely be director-choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler ("In the Heights"), who turned theater-trained singers and dancers into confident acrobats and real-life competitive cheerleaders into believable characters.

Steven Suskin, Variety: Neither roses nor brickbats are likely to be thrown at "Bring It On," the new musical at the St. James, but you'll see plenty of cheerleaders tossed up high. With a story drawn not from the 2000 film starring Kirsten Dunst, but rather from one of its four direct-to-video sequels, the tuner remains airborne often enough to overcome several obstacles along the way, starting with overly familiar plotting and characters. Strong performances from a personable cast, athletically impressive staging and an engaging score combine to make "Bring It On" a pert and refreshing summer surprise.

Matt Windman, AM New York: This new musical inspired by the 2000 Kirsten Dunst film about competitive high school cheerleaders...is obviously more likely to appeal to teens weaned on "High School Musical" and "Glee" than the majority of adult theatergoers. As you'd expect, it features unbelievable displays of acrobatics and gymnastic abilities, including but not limited to young girls being flipped high in the air. But it also proves to be a surprisingly well-crafted, highly enjoyable, feel-good musical with appealing characters, catchy R&B and rap songs, fierce hip-hop choreography and very funny dialogue packed with social media jokes.

Jonathan Mandell, The Faster Times: The first surprise of “Bring It On The Musical"...is that people as awesome as Tony winners Lin-Manuel Miranda and Tom Kitt were drawn to remake a largely forgettable film that spawned four direct-to-video sequels. Is Broadway really the obvious next step in this commercial franchise?...Questions of audience aside, was it a mistake for these young theatrical talents, who I feel hold the future of Broadway in their hands, to collaborate on such a trifle? It would be un-cheerleader-like of me to say so. It is better to think of it as their summer vacation. And that’s the second surprise: “Bring It On The Musical,” though overly long and inevitably formulaic, works as a kind of summer entertainment, by building on the strengths of the original movie, and avoiding some of its flaws.

Howard Shapiro, The Philadelphia Inquirer: ..."Bring It On" is basically inconsequential. I know that cheerleaders and their nearest will disagree, but for most of us, a story about kids from an urban high school vying for a national cheerleading title against kids from a privileged one is not such a compelling issue, even with helpings of intrigue. At intermission, I was thinking, gee, the dancing is fabulous and the cast, outstanding, but I don't frankly care if these characters live or die. By the end of the show, at least I was curious about how the whole thing would turn out. You can't go too far wrong with a Rocky story done well, but we've been bombarded with so many, a new one has to be inventive to be anything more than routine. "Bring It On" is neither...The dancing is the single element that electrifies "Bring It On," pushing its demands on the cast to the very edge.

Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: “Bring It On” doesn’t break new ground, but it kept me smiling. Sometimes pretty silly — and very acrobatic — is enough.

Michael Musto, Village Voice: Director/choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler's staging throws s-p-i-r-i-t in your face, with lots of people lifting other people at regular intervals. And the plot--complete with an obligatory she-messed-up twist--has draggy stretches, but when the humor clicks, it brings on spoofy amusement.

Scott Brown, Vuture: I braced, I flinched, and then, to my surprise and delight ... I applauded. Repeatedly. Bring It On certainly gives fierce face, but it also backs up that glittering grill with just enough sinew and substance — musical, physical and textual — to put it in trophy contention as a worthy, weightless delight, a guilty pleasure you needn't feel too guilty about.

Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg: “Bring It On” is an unself-consciously dopey, feel-good show, based on the 2000 movie about cheerleaders, a sanitized pep rally that provides the audience with eye-candy and an unassailable feel-good message, while paying union wages to a mixed company of Broadway hoofers and seasoned athletes.

 

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