“Bring It On” Combines Athleticism and Musical Theatre

By Cate Heiner

Cheerleaders took center stage in the theatre department’s production of “Bring It On: The Musical” this weekend.

For those unfamiliar with the show, “Bring It On” follows Campbell, a high school senior whose dreams are all coming true. As captain of her cheerleading squad, she looks forward to the upcoming season, but all her dreams are dashed when she finds out she’s been redistricted to a different high school. Within the first few days, Campbell realizes it’s going to take a lot more than pompoms and high ponytails to make new friends. Luckily, she discovers a hip-hop dance group, and their fearless leader, Danielle. Despite a few rocky missteps, the two end up friends and focus on turning their hip-hop crew into a cheerleading squad.

The performance is filled with high energy songs and athletic dance numbers. Cheerleading is not a style typically used on theatrical stages, and the choreography explores this unique intersection of musical theatre, hip-hop and athletics. The production numbers are certainly the highlight of the piece, bringing in feats of acrobatics and tumbling as well as dancing. Madi Cooper in particular shines as Campbell, showing off impressive skills in her ability to belt the high notes all while getting tossed in the air.

The show’s engaging range of characters in both the cheerleading team and in each high school provides another highlight. Arjana Sanfilippo brings a breath of fresh air in her performance as Bridget, the down-to-earth mascot turned cheerleader. Her sincerity is both charming and relatable, along with a knock-out voice that firmly solidifies her part. Micki Martinez demonstrates her skill in dance moves and sass as Nautica, a member of the Jackson hip-hop crew, while Ari Glauser’s cheeky portrayal of Skylar feels like she walked straight out of cheer camp. The men are equally impressive, with E. Javier Flores and Carleton Bluford demonstrating smooth dance moves and rap skills. Sky Kawai’s voice soars, making it hard to imagine he was ever the dorky freshman his character claims to be.

The show is impressive to watch, not just due to the choreography and cast, but also due to the design. Cole Adam’s lighting designs make the routines feel cinematic, full of color and motion that highlights the work of the cast. The fluid nature of the set — a design from Keven Myhre — keep the pace moving without distracting from the story. The orchestra, led by Alex Marshall on the second story, brings their own energy to the stage as they assist in engaging the audience through the music.

Even though the story is something familiar, the actors clearly demonstrate a passion and love for their work. The show will run through next weekend in the Marriott Center for Dance, playing both matinees and evening performances on the 24th and 25th. U students are able to attend for free through their Arts Pass, so remember to bring your UCard.

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