I Can do That: Bring It On @swkplay

Some death-defying cheerleading stunts and a whole lot of energy make the British Theatre Academy’s youth production of Bring It On a slick and polished extravaganza. Even if perhaps the acrobatic-style choreography comes at the expense of the vocals. And at times seems to look painful. It’s currently playing at the Southwark Playhouse.

There’s no denying the excitement of watching talented individuals bend and snap their way through a series of complicated manoeuvres. It builds up to a finale that has enough throws, cartwheels and catches to have you gasping in amazement.

Bring it On is based on the 2000 movie of the same name starring Kirsten Dunst. It’s fascinating to contemplate how many of the cast may not have even been born then. It’s about a cheerleader who is transferred from a middle class school to a rough one so a rival can take her place. She then plots her revenge.

For a show called Bring It On, it takes a while to get going. The music has two composers. Tom Kitt and Amanda Green wrote the music and lyrics for the middle class Truman High School.  Lin Manuel Miranda wrote the songs for the rougher Jackson High. When the action transfers to Jackson you feel like the show gets its groove. 

Whether the world of cheerleading is your cup of tea might determine your enjoyment of the piece. But it’s also that new musicals tend to be made in America so you have to roll with that. As a vehicle to showcase the talents of the young cast it works well. 

There’s a small band under the direction of Chris Ma. This keeps the vocals and music balanced in the often poor acoustics of the Southwark Playhouse. 

Directed and choreographed by Ewan Jones, Bring It On is at the Southwark Playhouse until 1 September.

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Photos by Eliza Wilmot

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