BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight

jagfkb
Broadway Legend
joined:5/29/07
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 10:57am
Let me rephrase:

The characters have ENOUGH development and depth, what's sometimes missing are motivations and well written dialogue/lyrics.
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 10:58am
Mister Matt- I think they should have turned the leprechaun scene into a dance off between Campbell and Danielle. Campbell has something to prove: her White girl cheerleader moves have a place with the crew, and ultimately it will be a blending of their two styles that will achieve the greatest success. The leprechaun costume hindered her ability to dance so it made no sense that they were all like, "Damn! Look at her moves!" It was like, "What moves? She's a dancing mascot."

Re: Eva, maybe the book has changed, but it was definitely not made clear that Eva had a hidden agenda from the beginning. She was barely in the show to even have a character. That's why it felt like her song came out of nowhere. Had Campbell done something, even inadvertently, to Eva in the past and Eva was holding a grudge? Her hatred/betrayal of a friend who was helping her get everything she wanted did make sense to me.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
Someday
Stand-by
joined:4/4/06
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:11am
Hi All. I'm here with a dissenting opinion. After seeing the invited dress on Wednesday, I returned last night on my OWN dime to see the first preview. I am only giving positive feedback here, in light of the fact that this was only the first preview. My apologies in advance for the length.

Do you know the rare feeling that occasionally happens, maybe a third of the way through Act 2, when you're watching an actor you've never heard of, and you realize: not only am I really enjoying their performance, but I am very likely watching what will be a Tony-winning (and everything-else-winning) performance. Ryann Redmond gave me that feeling. She was pretty much spectacular in all respects especially in the humor and charm departments. I expect her to be a major contender for the featured actress Tony, along with all the other awards.

Not that it's all about awards. Awards or no, she is giving what for me is an excellent supporting performance. She's not reinventing the comedic wheel. She just does what she does very, very well, with essentially no major weaknesses in any element of her performance singing, acting, movement.

I hesitated sharing my reaction to her performance, because I realize these kinds of ecstatic comments, if echoed by others, could engender a backlash. But after thinking about it, I think she's strong enough that even those who approach her performance with a prove-it mentality will likely be won over.

I had to get all my thoughts about her out of the way first, because she made such a fantastic impression. And yep, you guessed it. I'm her agent.

...I kid, I kid.

Other positive comments, in no particular order:

I thought the show was a blast. Very fun. And that's hard to pull off. So many shows that aspire to fun end up with something more like pleasing. (See Sondheim's comments on the reason for his return visits to see The Wiz.) Also, fun is not to be underestimated as a harbinger of the show's potential for good word-of-mouth and future success.

The choreography and cheering routines accomplish the goal of giving the show many wow moments without becoming deadening or repetitive.

Seeing all the great cheerleading live on stage was much more thrilling than I had thought it would be. Don't know why I was surprised about that. I should have assumed there'd be some impressive cheering pyrotechnics in a musical about cheerleaders. And there are. If it's been awhile since you've seen excellent cheerleading live, or especially if you've never seen it live at this caliber, well, you're in for a treat.

The casting is strong throughout. The lead, Taylor Louderman, is a charismatic powerhouse. Several recent shows would have benefited from having her lead their casts. She grounds her performance in both confidence and vulnerability, making for a lead you can really care about and pull for. (Spoiler in the next sentence.) She also pulls off the funniest dance by a leprechaun mascot that you are ever likely to encounter. She makes this look easy, but considering the size of that headpiece, there's just no way it is. (Spoiler over.)

[Update: below, it's suggested that a different actor does the leprechaun dance and that a bit of stagecraft-switcheroo is employed to make us think it's Louderman. So, I very likely gave her too much credit for that.]

While everyone is cast in their natural type, they all manage to avoid seeming cliched. Several secondary principals give dynamic performances. Gregory Haney, has the single funniest moment in the show a quick little physical comedy bit with lots of attitude late in the show. It might have been a throwaway moment, but by that point, he has given you so much information about his character's personality that you're inside his head for the bit. Which totally amplifies its hilarity.

It's an embarrassment of riches in terms of the appropriateness of the casting of featured roles. Of course, when everyone is so right, that makes it harder to stand out (more props to Redmond and Haney for doing so). Also, Nicholas Womack, who is good throughout, totally nails some electric and funny hip-hop verses that are vintage Lin Manuel-Miranda.

The guy who plays the romantic interest, Jason Gotay, has a gorgeous pop tenor voice, which he uses most effectively in an Act 2 scene with Louderman. He could have a recording career, if he wanted to go that way. Although I know shows aren't built to actors' specs too much any more, I would be absolutely fine hearing more singing from his character, just due to Gotay's strength in that department.

Similarly, there were a couple of musical numbers that were so enjoyable, I actually wished they were longer. How often does that happen?

The first is "Bee-atch", a short character number that's hilarious and perfectly executed by Kate Rockwell. As far as I'm concerned, it could have continued to add humor and entertainment value for several more minutes without feeling like it was slowing down the plot (it's great for "color" but doesn't much move things forward).

There was also a very good, brief bit of music in Act 2, sung by the lead (Louderman) and Bridget (Redmond), who are coming to terms with a difficult moment in their friendship. With those two performers, this part was absolutely scintillating, and I thought it was about to head into an extended duet for them. If it had, I would have been thrilled. As far as I'm concerned, they're the two real stars of this show (bow order notwithstanding), and I love hearing them sing their hearts out with each other. Also, you're so into both characters' emotions at this particular point that hearing them sing their feelings just feels spot-on.

Well, that's about it. Again, sorry to be so verbose, though I did warn ya'! Just wanted to share my positive thoughts on this show. In case it's not obvious, I think it could be a hit.

Things I hadn't looked
At till now:
Flower in your hat.
And your smile....
Updated On: 7/13/12 at 11:11 AM
ClydeBarrow
Broadway Legend
joined:6/20/12
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:22am
Whizzer, are there any Zune or Friendster references? If not then I think this will get a re-write before opening night.
"Pardon my prior Mcfee slip. I know how to spell her name. I just don't know how to type it." -Talulah
BwayEqs
Stand-by
joined:6/20/12
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:24am
There's a fat White girl who is wildly uncool at the old school, but when she goes to the new school she is hot because she has more "junk in her trunk" than anyone else there.


OMG Bridget? She was my favorite! I loved the part where she jumped and the whole stage shook. That was in the tour, I don't know if they still do that.
They all call me a troll. Ok, call me a troll. If I stand on my own, so be it.
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:29am
I posted a similar reaction to Ryann Redmond when I saw the tour. I felt like I was seeing a performance that would surely grant a Tony nom (and possibly a win) should the show land on Broadway. I felt similarly about Gregory Haney. I thought those two alone were worth the price of the ticket.

***SPOILER***

She also pulls off the funniest dance by a leprechaun mascot that you are ever likely to encounter. She makes this look easy, but considering the size of that headpiece, there's just no way it is.

I guess the simple bit of stagecraft fooled you because you're giving her WAY too much credit for that dance number. LOL
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
keb2
Stand-by
joined:1/4/12
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:30am
ok was it just me, or did it seem like there was someone else inside the leprechaun suit? Someone with more masculine calves? And then that person walked off stage and Taylor walked on in costume and took her (costume) head off?

Or am I misremembering it?
Someday
Stand-by
joined:4/4/06
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:35am
Wow, I'm guilty as charged, Mister Matt. If they did what keb2 says, then, yep, they totally, totally fooled me. Haha.
Things I hadn't looked
At till now:
Flower in your hat.
And your smile....
After Eight
Broadway Legend
joined:6/5/09
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:36am
GilmoreGirL,

********SPOILERS*******

Eva's song was not a surprise. You knew the minute you saw the redistricting map (beyond any logic whatsoever), and heard the two preposterous revelations of the two other girls that caused Eva to become captain, that she somehow was at the bottom of all this. The problem was then disbelief that she could have managed it. Just wondering about it redirected one's focus from what was going on on stage. The explanation, when it finally came, was as ridiculous and as full of holes as the idea that she had somehow engineered the whole thing.
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:37am
I thought it was obvious Taylor did not do the leprechaun dance and it was probably a male dancer. The leprechaun walked off stage after the dance and then walked back on before Taylor took off the head of the mascot. She was not nearly as sweaty as she surely would have been if she had been prancing around in that outfit as well.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
Someday
Stand-by
joined:4/4/06
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:41am
That does make sense. It may be juvenile of me, but I thought that whole bit was very funny. My engagement in the moment probably made me miss the leprechaun exit and Louderman's re-entrance after the dance. At any rate, while it's campy as hell, I thought the whole thing worked and was pretty hilarious. Maybe I'm an easy mark for physical humor.
Things I hadn't looked
At till now:
Flower in your hat.
And your smile....
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:43am
BwayEqs- That part must have been cut because Bridget never jumped up and down and the stage shook.

It is also WAY too early to be discussing Tony nominations! (Which this show could easily receive none. If we're placing early bets on nominees and winners I'm guessing it will a Matilda sweep.)

Someday- I love physical comedy too. Check out James Corden and Tom Edden in "One Man, Two Guvnors" to see a master class in physical comedy!
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
Updated On: 7/13/12 at 11:43 AM
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:47am
The problem was then disbelief that she could have managed it. Just wondering about it redirected one's focus from what was going on on stage. The explanation, when it finally came, was as ridiculous and as full of holes as the idea that she had somehow engineered the whole thing.

Maybe it's me, but I really don't have a problem with suspending disbelief in teen girl camp comedies. I always sort of thought it added to the fun. I think if the show cranked up the camp factor another notch, it would probably inspire some necessary fixes in the book and broaden the show's appeal. The film had a similar struggle. Most of the film had rather straightforward comedy and conflict, but then something like the cheerleader camp flashback with the Spirit Stick was so over-the-top, it threw the tone off balance.

"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
Updated On: 7/13/12 at 11:47 AM
Someday
Stand-by
joined:4/4/06
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:54am
Of course, Whizzer's right that it's too early. Something totally unknown to us (maybe Kinky Boots?) could contain a definitive featured actress performance for the ages, a la Bea Arthur in Mame, Audra in Ragtime, Beth Leavel in Drowsy. But for now, I find it fun to speculate.

Btw, I agree that Matilda will likely be a juggernaut. It's flat-out fantastic and a huge crowd-pleaser. I'm still hoping Bertie Carvel somehow finds his way into the New York cast. Anyone know the status of that? I could easily see Matilda taking leading actor and actress awards. I don't think Lauren Kennedy will win featured, though she's excellent. Her role just isn't showy enough.
Things I hadn't looked
At till now:
Flower in your hat.
And your smile....
Kad
Broadway Legend
joined:11/5/05
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:55am
I believe it's been said that Carvel is not making the transfer.
Someday
Stand-by
joined:4/4/06
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 11:55am
LOVED Corden and Edden in One Man. Yup, right up my alley, Whizzer!
Things I hadn't looked
At till now:
Flower in your hat.
And your smile....
GilmoreGirlO2
Broadway Star
joined:4/13/05
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 12:34pm
(SPOILERS)
Perhaps the storyline has changed on Broadway, but in the tour I don't remember anything indicating that Campbell and Eva knew each other until Eva's audition. I thought there was even a comment in the show - that they lived next door to each other all of their lives but Campbell never even took notice of Eva (another motivation for her to resent Campbell). Also, because it's clear Eva came into the auditions planning this take-over, I don't think it was supposed to be anything Campbell, specifically, did to her (other than, perhaps, not even notice her). I thought it was just a case of jealousy of the "popular" crowd - and, to get to where she needed to be, Eva had to "suck up" to Campbell to take advantage of her. In the tour, I believe her song started with the line, "There are people in life who suck up all the glory...," and it is Eva's resentment against those people that drives her to create this plan.

And, sure, the plan has holes and is slightly ridiculous, but I didn't feel like the writers were trying to make anyone believe this could happen in real life and, therefore, I was absolutely able to suspend disbelief in this case.

And, After Eight, I felt like from the beginning you could tell that Eva was not as completely sweet as she appeared, but I thought they did a great job at making it seem as though Campbell was genuinely going crazy, that, by the end of Act 1, I was more on the side of thinking Eva was innocent (or at least not at fault to the extent Campbell believed). When we see the redistricting map at first, yes, it is unbelievable and ridiculous, but I just brushed it off as the writers making it completely obvious they just needed a way to get Campbell to Jackson and adding a laugh while doing it.
WhizzerMarvin TrinaJasonMendel
Broadway Legend
joined:5/26/05
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 01:02pm
GilmoreGirl-

There must have been changes from you saw and what we saw last night. Campbell did say she knew Eva from before. When Eva comes to audition the bitchy friends said, "No way! She's only a sophomore with no experience!" Campbell responded that she has known Eva for years. They grew up living next door to each other and Eva has always looked up to me and wanted to be a cheerleader. Let's give her a chance!

Later they tried to throw Eva in a move at practice and Eva couldn't land it properly. The bitchy duo said she should be cut. Campbell again stuck up for her and then pulled Eva aside to give her a pep talk. She even promised to make her sophomore spirit leader, basically ensuring she would become captain in a year or two. Campbell was her friend and ally.

At this moment they should have let Eva address the audience and give some speech like, "I've had to grow up listening to Campbell this and Campbell that. Well it's my turn now. These girls won't know what hit them when I'm through with them, etc."

Eva didn't have any dialogue before she went to the audition, as far as I can remember.
Marie: Don't be in such a hurry about that pretty little chippy in Frisco. Tony: Eh, she's a no chip!
dave1606
Broadway Star
joined:12/8/07
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 01:04pm
I saw the show last night and have to say it was pretty bad. The worst thing about this show is that it has no reason to exist. It never justified why it should be a musical in the first place. When almost the ENTIRE finale took place without live music (both of the groups perform to tracked music, one song sung by Porgy and Bess' Joshua Henry), you start to wonder why bother at all? This may make the cheer leading competition more realistic, but for me it felt lazy.

The show just looked cheap. The four panels had projections reminiscent of my Windows 95 screensaver.

Like leap of faith, the show suffers from too many songs. Random side characters show up sing a song, and then are never to be heard from again.

There are too many Whiny "I want" ballads, and sadly the lead's voice was not up to the challenge.

The best thing I can say for the show is that it is high energy, and the gymnastics are good. The audience loved them. I do like It's all Happening, but the rest of the score was very forgettable.



I was hoping for a fun summer show, and I guess to some degree this is, but I would not recommend paying more than $30 for this one.
ABB2357
Broadway Star
joined:7/29/09
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 01:29pm
Ironically, as much as I dislike stage adaptations that carbon copy the original film, BRING IT ON could really use a lift from the source material. It's not a work of art, but there's a lighthearted and well-constructed teen movie there that would lend itself nicely to a musical. I agree with other posters that the new "storyline" is misleading at best and beyond sloppy at worst.

Looks cheap, too many songs, atrocious lyrics, lazy character development/motivation, etc. It doesn't seem like much has been changed since the tour.
CurtainPullDowner
Broadway Legend
joined:11/4/04
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 01:36pm
For us deep-thinking Shakespearean fans,
does Neil Haskell appear without a shirt?
Mister Matt
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 02:01pm
Like leap of faith, the show suffers from too many songs. Random side characters show up sing a song, and then are never to be heard from again.

Well, to be honest, the same thing could be said of Ragtime or Follies.
"What can you expect from a bunch of seitan worshippers?" - Reginald Tresilian
phan24
Stand-by
joined:6/26/08
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 02:09pm
@CurtainPull Downer: Yes, yes he does.
Sauja
Broadway Star
joined:1/7/07
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 02:20pm
Saw the first preview last night as well, and I have to say, I had low expectations but really, really enjoyed myself. Heard the following exchange behind me: "I mean, there isn't really anything deep or substantial about this piece." "Well...you did know you were coming to Bring It On, RIGHT?"

And it's true. This is pure popcorn entertainment, and while there are some things about the show that are mediocre (the set, a solid half of the music), they're elevated by some incredible stunts, delightful dancing, enough great laughs, and terrific performances. Gregory Haney was the standout for me. As was Neil Haskell's torso (yes, CPD, it does make an appearance).

I also have to say I think Jeff Whitty did a great job on the book. While there are jokes that really miss out on an authentically teen voice, he structures the show so much better than I would have expected, and manages to cram a lot more character development in for the various supporting characters than I would have expected. Again, not that it's deep, but everyone really does have a character to play.

Not a great work of musical theater, but a thoroughly entertaining one. I'd happily recommend it to folks, ESPECIALLY at the discounted preview pricing.
I started a blog! Cause I'm a nerd. http://100showsayear.blogspot.com/
GilmoreGirlO2
Broadway Star
joined:4/13/05
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 02:36pm
Whizzer, it seems the only difference in terms of the Eva/Campbell relationship from the tour is that I (if I am recalling correctly - there is a chance I just didn't hear this line) don't believe she said anything about knowing her for years/growing up next door to her right when we first see Eva at her audition. I know we find out later that she lives right next door. Maybe the writers decided to put that line in to establish where their houses are situated right away.

I agree, Sauja, about the character development. In musical comedies like this I often find myself wishing that the supporting characters/comic reliefs were onstage less, finding their scenes/songs pointless (and, often, not that funny), but I actually enjoyed each character's place in this show. I was really rooting for each of them individually, not just the leads.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
BRING IT ON Begins Previews Tonight
Posted: 7/13/12 at 02:42pm
Great review Whizzer--is it wrong that that made me wanna see it much more?

"Correct Jordan. It really is false advertising and may be the single biggest fault of the show. Why license the name and become part of the franchise if you're not going to musicalize the characters/story of the movie."

It's sad that I know this, but this seems to be popular with the Bring it On franchise. They have, what, 5 or so films now, and the only connection is the basic theme (cheerleading and, I gather, a sorta white school/black school rivalry). Of course those sequels were all direct to DVD or TV and I've only caught a few minutes of some of them on MTV, but they must do better than many direct to DVD sequels to have so many and whoever owns the franchise name must think this is the way to milk it.

It's kinda interesting in a way--people often complain that recent musical adaptations of musicals are too faithful to the movie, and now people complain that it's not faithful enough, but I get how some could see it as disingenuous to not feature the same characters, etc, but still use the movie name to sell it. And if the actual story and characters still have a lot of similarities to the movie, and are not an improvement (and I admit, I found the movie a lot of fun, though I haven't seen it since it was in theatres), what's the point?

I think Andy Blankenbuehler is a decent choreographer, who hasn't proven himself yet, but it doesn't sound like he's impressed too much with his first major job as director.

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