FRIDAY 5 (+1): BRING IT ON's Miracle Ham and Emily Urbanski
Circle Players kicks off its 2017-18 season with its Jason Lewis-directed production of Bring It On The Musical, the Broadway version of the film Bring It On, which took viewers inside the cut-throat world of high school cheerleading. Sound implausible? Perhaps, but with the starry musical pedigree of its creative collective - who include Tony Award winning artists Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights, Hamilton), Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and Amanda Green (High Fidelity) - it's easy to divine why the show was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical during its run on the main stem.
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? I, like every little theatre kid, fell in love with Annie when I was little. My mom took me to see it at our local dinner theatre and I took it upon myself to sing along the entire show. She tried to explain to me that this wasn't exactly a sing-along kind of show, but apparently, I didn't catch on. I even kept singing in the bathroom during intermission. After that, my parents started putting me in dance classes, shows, and musical theatre camps to give me a place to perform that wasn't from my seat in the audience.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I don't have any very exciting rituals but before any show, I like to warm up and stretch on my own for at least 30 minutes and think through the show. I usually do a full body stretch to loosen up, an ab workout to feel controlled and centered and then I'll run around or do jumping jacks or jump rope to get my blood flowing.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? When I was in middle school, I got my first taste of professional theatre at the same dinner theater that I sang along to Annie at when I was little. We were doing White Christmas and after my big solo number, I turned to exit and missed the doorway and ran into the wall. Hard. There was no way anyone missed it. I kinda laughed awkwardly and half ran/half tripped off the stage completely embarrassed because my friends were there that night. Probably luckily, I didn't really have time to stress about it before I had to change and get ready to come back onstage.
What's your dream role? Actually, Bring It On has been a dream show for me for the last few years ever since my high school considered doing it my senior year so I'm thrilled to be fulfilling that finally!! I've also always wanted to play Ariel in Footloose and recently Veronica Sawyer in Heathers: The Musical.
Who's your theatrical crush? Jeremy Jordan. Hands down.
Why should people come see BRING IT ON? This show is in-your-face excitement from the opener to the finale. This is not just your typical musical; on top of the singing, dancing, and acting, we are stunting throughout the entire show, too. Our Cheer-ographer has treated us and trained us like a cheer squad and that's what we plan to look like onstage. I hope we make any cheerleaders in our audience proud and shock the whole audience with what we bring to the stage!
What was your first "live, onstage" taste of theater? My very first taste of theater was when I played the role of Esther in a school play in the second grade. I had maybe four lines throughout the entire show, but I was so excited to get up and say them. Even though they were such small lines, I was happy to have them.
What is your favorite pre-show ritual? I really don't have a pre-show ritual per say but I do like to just relax, pray, and run different scenes in my head. I just want to make sure I'm on top of my game even if I feel like I have it all down packed.
What's your most memorable "the show must go on" moment? I remember for one show the main character was not on stage in time when act two started because of some type of issue with makeup and costumes. He was definitely needed for that particular scene. Luckily it started with a song that allowed us to play it off and improvise. The entire cast was laughing by the end of the night because his entrance was completely different than what was rehearsed, but thank God we were able to make it work.
What's your dream role? It would have to be playing Cinderella in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella on Broadway. I have always wanted to be Cinderella in this production. I love everything about it and could sing the songs all day, every day. It's definitely of goal of mine.
Who's your theatrical crush? Michael Campayno is a crush of mine. I really like his style. He is very handsome and talented.
Why should people come see BRING IT ON? It really is such an amazing show! The entire cast has worked extremely hard to keep the audience captivated with our talents. It has a great storyline. Between the acting, cheer work, choreography and hilarious moments throughout the show the audience is truly going to enjoy themselves.
About the show Circle Players kicks off its 2017-2018 season in high-flying style with the Nashville premiere of Bring It On The Musical, promising to take audiences to a colorful place filled with the complexities of high school friendship, jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness.
Featuring an original story by Tony Award winning artists Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q); music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights, Hamilton); music by Tom Kitt (Next to Normal); lyrics by Amanda Green (High Fidelity), and nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical, Bring It On The Musical opens Friday night, August 11 at The Z. Alexander Looby Theatre.
Circle's production of Bring It On is directed by Jason Lewis, who was living in New York City when the show premiered on Broadway in 2012 and his interest in the show has only grown since its debut on the Main Stem.
"At first, I was skeptical of how this 90s cheerleading movie would translate to a staged musical," says Lewis. "Luckily, my friend Ariana DeBose (Hamilton, A Bronx Tale, Motown) originated the role of Nautica, so I had a personal reason to give the show a chance and see it."
"I still remember sitting in the front row completely stunned by one show-stopping number after another, the integration of hip-hop and rap into traditional musical theatre numbers and its high-flying stunts."
Bring It On The Musical tells the story of Campbell, cheer captain and most popular girl at the affluent Truman High School. Before she can lead her award-winning squad to another win at Nationals, school redistricting forces Campbell to transfer to the multi-ethnic Jackson High School. She befriends the dance crew girls and, along with their headstrong leader, Danielle, forms a powerhouse squad to compete at the National Championships.
The cast includes Kailey Madison (Campbell) and Miracle Ham (Danielle), supported by a variety of spunky cheerleading/student characters from both Truman High and Jackson High Schools. One of the more memorable is LaCienega, a transgender student who is part of the Jackson Crew.
"To my knowledge, it's the first Broadway musical to feature a transgender high school student where their gender identity is treated as a non-issue amongst their peers, an aspect that's very important to me," says Lewis. "Bring It On has a message of friendship, forgiveness, inclusiveness and embracing one's individuality that drew me to want to direct Circle Player's production."
Along with Lewis, the creative team includes music direction by Randy Craft and Dennis Palmer. The show has multiple dance and cheer choreographers under the leadership of Ashley Danielle and Tosha Pendergrast.
Performances run August 11-27, at Z. Alexander Looby Theater, 2301 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. for Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances, with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. (August 14, 21 and 27).
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 via www.circleplayers.net. Reservations may be made by emailing email@example.com or (615) 332-7529. Tickets are also on sale at the box office at Looby Theater one hour before each performance.