What a privilege to see what can only be the cream of the crop of Perth’s youth musical theatre performers doing what they’re meant to do and being who they’re meant to be – Greatest Showman reference here a must – Perth, Hugh Jackman, Musical Theatre – it’s poetry.
Watch out Hugh, these kids are coming, and their talent takes your breath away.
Bring It On – The Musical, produced by Black Box Performing Arts is a high energy, incredibly fun experience. With a cast of 41 teenagers, the tightness across all elements of the show is surprising and a testament to the production and creative team. Katherine Freind’s direction brings a satisfying mix of light and shade and serves to highlight the comic skills of her talented young cast.
Inspired by the hit film, Bring It On – The Musical was nominated for the 2013 Tony Award for Best Musical. It delves into the cutthroat world of competitive high school cheerleading, replete with the all the anguish, rivalries, and romance that is synonymous with teenagehood. Two squads, one squeaky clean (Truman) and one rough and ready (Jackson) from rival schools are competing to claim the national title.
Campbell Davis (Katie Price) has just been named squad captain at Truman High School, but a rezoning incident forces her to spend her final year at neighbouring school, Jackson High.
While attempting to adjust her Sandra Dee persona into something a little more acceptable for Jackson, Campbell manages to ultimately befriend hip-hop dance crew leader Danielle (Amy Cornell) and convince her to form a cheer squad for the National Championships. Price and Cornel beautifully play this tension between Campbell and Danielle, and the unexpected and extremely funny hip-hop routine from Price in a full mascot suit is not something I’ll forget in a hurry.
There’s a certain exhilaration that comes from watching youth theatre. The exuberance of the performers, the storylines commonly chock full of meaty angst and catharsis, and that tingling sense of wanting the performers to pull off a mature performance on top of the sheer amount of learning and rehearsing that you know goes into it.
Bring It On more than delivers on the exhilaration front. The maturity of some of the performances must be seen to be believed. Leading lady, Price (14) delivers a performance that would stand on any musical theatre stage in the country. The maturity and depth she brings to central character, Campbell is astonishing for someone so young. Her singing (classical and music theatre) is extraordinary. Clearly a great deal of dedication has gone into developing this talent, and if for nothing else, Bring It On is worth seeing to witness the beginning of what will undoubtedly be a very big career.
The entire cast is strong and a credit to the standard and skill of the Black Box Performing Arts production team. Stand out performances also include Cornel (Danielle), Ariana Vallejo (Nautica) and Chloe Marlow (Eva), whose strong contemporary and music theatre vocals are impressive. The acting chops of Matilda Jenkins (Bridget) and Ashley Garner (Twig) are notable and a delight to watch. In a show about cheerleading, with a large amount of dancing, the level of athleticism and dance skills required of the entire cast is significant, and they all impressed, with Vallejo the standout dancer in a lead role on the night I attended.
The live band, led by Musical Director Phoebe Jackson adds energy to the show, but could do with a few more members to round out the sound and increase the volume for the performers, particularly needed in the large ensemble cheerleading numbers.
The staging, while fitting, could be more interesting, but serves its purpose with a clear set needed much of the time for the big ensemble numbers with a large number of performers on stage and cheerleaders been thrown high into the air.
Clever, fun, sometimes moving, and always bringing it, Bring It On is a hoot, and showcases of some of the best youth performances I’ve ever seen.
Black Box Performing Arts presents
Bring It On – The Musical
music Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda | lyrics Amanda Green and Miranda | book Jeff Whitty
Director Katherine Freind
Venue: Kalamunda Performing Arts Centre | 48 Canning Road, Kalamunda, Perth
Dates: 2 – 11 Feb 2018
Tickets: $25 – $20