Bring It On: The Musical

Toronto audiences flip over this spirited musical comedy

Music by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lyrics by Amanda Green and Lin-Manuel Miranda
Directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler

Bring It On: The Musical. Photo by Joan Marcus.

“Ever been to a cheerleading competition?” Bubbly blonde cheerleader Torrance (played by Kirsten Dunst) asks this question in Bring it On (2000), a movie that explores the rivalries associated with high school cheerleading. Now, more than a decade later, Toronto’s newly opened Ed Mirvish Theatre (formerly the Canon Theatre) is playing host to Bring it On: The Musical, an explosive burst of high-flying comedic energy.

Cheerleading captain Campbell (Taylor Louderman) physically resembles Dunst’s character from the film version, but the similarities in the storyline end there. Bring it On: The Musical has been rewritten for the stage in a surprisingly original way. The first scene transports the audience back to high school, where outgoing, endearing Bridget (Ryann Redmond) does her best to fit in, but is ultimately told to put the head back on her Bucky the Parrot mascot costume. Campbell’s cheerleading squad, the Truman Buccaneers, consist of short-skirted, outspoken Skylar (Kate Rockwell) and witty brunette Kylar (Janet Krupin), two senior cheerleaders who hilariously play into every stereotype.

The squad is later joined by a seemingly quiet sophomore Eva (Elle McLemore), who is humbled to even be considered as a cheerleader among her “heroes.” And as they prepare for the upcoming regional championships, Campbell’s world is turned upside down by the devastating news that she has been “redistricted,” meaning she not only has to change schools, but she can no longer be captain of the cheerleading squad. Several large screens drop down behind Campbell and her squad at the very moment she finds out, and as they Google street view the new, inner-city high school, ominous music and shock reverberate through the theatre.

Campbell’s new school, Jackson High, does not welcome her with open arms (nicknaming her “Campbell’s Soup”) and she learns, through a fabulously choreographed hip-hop musical number, that “Do Your Own Thing” is the name of the game. Her positive attitude and determination, however, earn her the respect of her fellow students, smart and self-assured Danielle (Adrienne Warren), sassy Nautica (Ariana DeBose), and delightful drag queen La Cienega (Gregory Haney). She is also noticed by handsome, laid back Randall (Jason Gotay), who does not take high school very seriously, as it will be “nothing more than a blip” in a few years.

Campbell catches up with her old squad via Skype and learns that Skylar has failed home economics and Kylar has mono, which leaves only one cheerleader standing as captain—the young, inexperienced Eva. But all is not what it seems, and the audience is kept on the edge of their seats as Eva is revealed to be an evil mastermind, and Campbell must motivate her new Jackson High friends to compete in the regional championships against the squad she once called her own.

Bring it On: The Musical is a feast for the eyes with amazing choreography, dazzling dance routines and pumped-up music. Taylor Louderman’s Campbell is reminiscent of both Legally Blonde‘s Elle Woods and Clueless‘ Cher Horowitz, combining a wealth of silly slang expressions with a positive, passionate attitude. Highlights include a dancing sparkly leprechaun mascot and Eva revealing her true, sociopathic self through song. However, it is Redmond who truly steals the show as wide-eyed, high school misfit Bridget, whose facial expressions and outstanding vocals soar throughout the performance.

This show will leave you feeling both pleasantly surprised and energized. Bring it On: The Musical runs until June 3 at Ed Mirvish Theatre. Visit for more information and to buy tickets.

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