BWW Review: BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL is Highly Entertaining, But Misses Some Marks

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BWW Review: BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL is Highly Entertaining, But Misses Some Marks

BWW Review: BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL is Highly Entertaining, But Misses Some Marks
Giulia Martinez plays Campbell in
Bring It On: The Musical.

What's tricky with musicals is that sometimes the actors focus too much on polishing their singing and dancing and don't pay enough attention to their acting. There are only a handful of really good actors among the cast, who were enough to help the audience be engrossed in the story.

Manila, Philippines - Staging Bring It On: The Musical might be a bold move since cheerleading isn't deeply embedded in Filipino culture, but Ateneo Blue Repertory (blueREP) successfully does it anyway. Typical Western high school narratives are still enjoyable even though they're not fully relatable. This is blueREP's "newbie" production this season, which usually means that most (if not all) of the cast are new to theater.

The musical is entertaining from the beginning until the end, mostly because it's very lively and the plot is easy to follow. Directors Franco Ramos and Abi Sulit have a simplistic, comedic approach to the musical and it's effective in engaging the audience to be more invested in the story.

Bring It On revolves around Campbell, a cheerleading royalty in her school. Everything was going well when she was suddenly uprooted from the life she knew, forcing her to adjust to a new school with a completely different crowd. The story is that of personal reflections and realizations of the main character, which would have been inspiring if Giulia Martinez had the experience to pull the role off. It feels like she did not fully grasp who her character was, and this struggle resonated with the audience.

BWW Review: BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL is Highly Entertaining, But Misses Some Marks
Ateneo Blue Repertory stages
Bring It On: The Musical
(Photo; Soleil Nicolette)

Campbell could have been likable at the beginning, or even despised, but the failure to have any solid character sketch pulled her to the background so much that the audience was indifferent towards her. Nonetheless, she does appear to have lots of potential. The highlight of her performance would be when Campbell dances as the leprechaun mascot because she did not hold herself back from what was expected of the role.

On the other hand, Nikki Bengzon as Danielle is undoubtedly the star of the show. She has a powerful stage presence, savoring every moment she goes onstage and staying committed to her character. She makes the role hers with her nuances, delivering an excellent performance above anyone else. Just when the audience was already fully satisfied, she delivers a stellar performance with "We're Not Done," where she shines.

Another commendable performance is that of Ezri Mitra as Eva. It's apparent she's enjoying her role, with her facial expressions that are very fitting to her character. It's always exciting to see what she'll do next. "Killer Instinct" is one of the most popular songs from the musical and Ezri did not disappoint. She's amusing to watch as an innocent-looking sophomore who eventually reveals herself as a cunning, power-hungry cheerleader.

Angela Manalastas as Bridget is very memorable, too.

What's tricky with musicals is that sometimes the actors focus too much on polishing their singing and dancing and don't pay enough attention to their acting. There are only a handful of really good actors among the cast, who were enough to help the audience be engrossed in the story.

BWW Review: BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL is Highly Entertaining, But Misses Some Marks
Ateneo Blue Repertory stages
Bring It On: The Musical
(Photo: Soleil Nicolette)

The theatre space may not have allowed more creative stunts, but the choreography certainly meets the expectations for a musical about cheerleading. It's clear Franco Ramos has the experience and knowledge to make the cheers effective, capturing the essence of high school competitiveness and drama.

Another highlight of the staging is Von Carolino's costume design. The cheerleader costumes are perfect and the high school fashion is very accurate. The set and lighting designs are appealing enough and match the standards of the staging.

Overall, Bring It On: The Musical is highly entertaining to watch, but it's a little messy as several aspects were perfect and some missed the mark. As it is a newbie production, certain faults are easy enough to overlook when the effort is there. Still, the nature of the musical is very interesting and the staging remains to be worth the watch.

The musical features music by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, lyrics by Amanda Green and Miranda, and book by Jeff Whitty. It's based on the film of the same name written by Jessica Bendinger.

BUY TICKETS ( https://bit.ly/2Qogh3L ): Ateneo Blue Repertory's Bring It On: The Musical runs now through 24 November 2019 at the Rizal Mini Theater, Ateneo de Manila University.

Photos: Ateneo Blue Repertory



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From This Author Carla Delgado