Review Roundup: BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL at The Athenaeum Theatre
Sparkling with sass and inspired by the cult 90s movie starring Kristen Dunst, this high energy hit comes from the minds of Broadway's creative royalty, while the death-defying stunts performed by world-class cheerleading champions ensure broad appeal.
The Australian production will once again be directed by multi-Green Room Award nominee Alister Smith (Pacific Overtures, Urinetown! The Musical, The Drowsy Chaperone). Choreographer Michael Ralph (Georgy Girl, Loving Repeating, The Boy from Oz 2018) returns fresh from his Green Room Award nomination for Best Choreography for BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL.
Originally performed on Broadway and Nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical, BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL features an original story by Tony Award winner, Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), music and lyrics by Tony Award-winning composer, Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights, Hamilton), music by Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning composer Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and lyrics by Broadway lyricist Amanda Green (High Fidelity).
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Heather Bloom, Australian Stage: There is a huge amount of energy and effort put into this production and it's the dedicated performers, who are taking on singing, dancing, acting and acrobatics to achieve the seemingly impossible feats of superhuman ability. Joined on stage by professional cheerleaders; Kat Abela, Daniel Bailey, Caitlyn Hammond and Ossie McLean, and with choreography by Michael Ralph who was assisted by Cheerleader Coach Natalie Commons. There is a lot to love about this production. It is fun. It is easy (well for the audience) but it doesn't go much deeper than that. A predictable story loosely based on a movie many enjoyed in their youth. It might be fluff and there's nothing wrong with that. Go in and enjoy Bring It On for what it is meant to be. Pure pop escapism.
Simon Parris, Simon Parris: Man in Chair: Working creatively on a budget, set designer Nathan Weyers makes good use of locker bays and bleachers to create multiple scenes. Weyers also works closely with lighting designer Declan O'Neill to incorporate stadium-style lighting as a very effective component of the set. A key component of Bring it On's visual appeal is the sterling work of costume designer Rhiannon Irving, whose eye for detail is a crucial factor in the success of vividly establishing the individuality of the characters. A clever detail comes when Jackson High's hip hop crew eventually enters the cheerleading arena: the characters sport traditional uniforms but have individualised these with personal tags.
Alex First, The Blurb: The lead vocals, led by the enthusiastic Kirby Burgess as Campbell, were strong; and the chorus numbers infectious. Jasmine Smith brings the right amount of sass to her role as Danielle. Baylie Carson is fabulous as the nerdy Bridget, whose life takes a U-turn when she, too, is forced to move from Truman to Jackson High. Emily Thompson revels as Campbell's original 2IC, the snooty Skylar, while Karla Tonkich blossoms as the self-centred Eva. Thomas McGuane is smooth as the understanding Jackson DJ Randall and Dayton Tavares a revelation as Jackson's love-struck Twig. What moves that man has! In fact, all 26 cast members do a fabulous job.
Cameron Woodhead, The Age: As their vocals soar from pop to soul, superb comic acting from the supporting cast fleshes out the cliquey world of adolescence. Baylie Carson is adorable, and terrifically funny, as a misfit who finds unexpected popularity in a school of misfits. Emily Thompson and Hollie James get their ditz on as besties transformed into mean girls, while Marty Alix and Samantha Bruzzese are fierce as soul-sister sidekicks on the other team. Karla Tonkich as ultra-biatch Eva revels in camp villainy, and the male cast members carve out recognisable sketches - and pull off some wicked street dancing - without taking the spotlight from the women Bring It On puts centre stage.