I was sitting there wondering, ‘Why was I in a theater ready to watch a musical about high school and cheerleading?’ I looked around the Belk Theater and it was packed with people waiting to see a musical about high school and cheerleading. The experience of high school the first time around was so displeasing to me, I didn’t attend graduation. I went three days later to pick up my Regents Diploma. Maybe that’s the point, BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL pokes fun at the institution of high school, competitive cheerleading and all of its trappings. And maybe the show is a metaphor for life.
The play has an evil character Eva, played by Elle McLemore, an unknowing victim, Campbell, played by Taylor Louderman, a comedy sidekick, Bridget, played by Ryann Redmond and a spirited transvestite, La Cienega, played by Gregory Haney.
The staging was clever with screens that changed height with pictures of pretty bedrooms, cheerleading camp and gym scenes. The actors were very committed to their two-dimensional hormone-charged characters. Their voices were strong and the three person pyramids and flying gymnastic feats were spectacular to watch. The language was very today and a bit unsettling for the woman sitting next to me. The first curse word uttered sent her reeling putting her hand to her mouth. I don’t think she ever recovered.
It took me quite a while to care about the plot and the characters, but it happened, I did care. Campbell, the Truman High School cheerleading captain, finds herself assigned to another school without competitive cheerleading. I questioned, ‘Where are her parents to fight this travesty? She’s going to lose her chance at a cheerleading scholarship.’ And yes, there are differences in schools in the same system, as the writers delineated with Truman vs. Jackson. The metal detector at Jackson High School was the first giveaway.
After the Jackson crew became a squad, why did they purposely go out of the lines during competition? I’ll never figure that one out. All in all, it was enjoyable and the audience loved it. They gave BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL a standing ovation, so who am I to say it wasn’t great? Oh, yeah, I’m the one who didn’t go to her high school graduation.
BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL at the Belk Theater, April 10-15. Tickets available at Blumenthal Box office: (704)372-1000.