Four Tony winners have collaborated on a show that’s so light it’s almost as if Picasso got to work on an Etch-A-Sketch.
It’s a loose adaptation of the 2000 film Bring It On, the white school/black school cheerleading comedy, though the plot has been dramatically changed and the whole thing has been updated to include references to Tweeting and Bristol Palin, even if some old references (Miss Cleo) and sounds (old-school rap) seem left in by mistake.
In this version, new cheerleading captain Campbell (the Amy Adams-like Taylor Louderman) gets “redistricted” to a black school, where she attempts to turn their “crews” into cheerleading “squads,” as you sense both intentional and unwitting hints of Glee, Legally Blonde the Musical, and even last year’s pom-pom show Lysistrata Jones.
The resulting satire about the rivalry for high school fabulosity doesn’t heat up right away because Campbell’s first “I want…” song is a dud, as are some of the other musical attempts to find some heart and sincerity in the material.
But things start cooking at the black school, with help from characters like the sassy transsexual La Cienega (Gregory Haney)–no, she wasn’t in the movie–who knows a thing or two about being an outcast, as does the chubby white girl, winningly played by Ryann Redmond, who’s got pipes, charm, and a future that should take her beyond just Hairspray revivals.
The sets–lockers and beams, plus moving panels with images projected on them–busily try to conceal the lack of a big budget.
Director/choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler‘s staging throws s-p-i-r-i-t in your face, with lots of people lifting other people at regular intervals.
And the plot–complete with an obligatory she-messed-up twist–has draggy stretches, but when the humor clicks, it brings on spoofy amusement.
Teenage girls and their moms will probably enjoy this glorified trifle.
But it took four Tony winners?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 1, 2012