Left – Kirby Burgess, Samantha Bruzzese, Jasmine Smith, Marty Alix. Cover – Kirby Burgess. Photos – Nico Keenan
A classic teen flick of the naughties, Bring It On beloved by teenagers across the world for its snappy dialogue, and rich beautiful teenagers who seemed to only have to worry about one thing, winning nationals at the Cheerleading Championships. The film and its tragic spinoffs have remained a stalwart in pop culture and it was only a matter of time before the musicals came calling.
Bring It On has all the potential to be a great, fun, easy to enjoy musical. It’s peppy and highly energetic, the score, co-written by the great Lin-Manuel Miranda with book by Jeff Whitty based on a beloved teen story is so bright and positive.
There are plans to be planned and drills to be drilled (the music is catchy!) and the show’s lead Campbell (Kirby Burgess) reveals a very honest performance. Despite being plagued by some vocal issues regarding an earlier illness that swept through the cast, Burgess was a delightful lead, full of naive earnestness.
Burgess met her match in 3rd year Victorian College of the Arts student Jasmine Smith who held her own (and then some!) against Burgess. Smith had the sass to Burgess’s saccharine and the pair are perfectly complemented in this story more about female friendship that anything else.
Baylie Carson is divine as the ugly duckling blossoming into a swan, through the confidence found through new friends, and the show is on a whole very heart warming. There’s of course the villain played with glee by Karla Tonkich and her cheerleading offsiders Skylar (Emily Thompson) and Kylar (Hollie James) who show off their impressive triple treat skills.
Having returned to Melbourne for the second time, Bring It On has brought with it some original cast members, Samantha Bruzzes and Marty Alix from last season and I can see why, the two as Nautica and LaCienega, are a brilliant double act of sass and style.
While Bring It On has its flaws; sound issues where vocals and dialogue was missed, and costume confusion (why were the cheerleaders not wearing tights?!) it also has a lot of heart. I particularly enjoyed the inclusivity of all cultures in the final number. Representations from the LBGQTI+ community as well as those with different religious were all included and for that I am so very glad.
There is a huge amount of energy and effort put into this production and it’s the dedicated performers, who are taking on singing, dancing, acting and acrobatics to achieve the seemingly impossible feats of superhuman ability. Joined on stage by professional cheerleaders; Kat Abela, Daniel Bailey, Caitlyn Hammond and Ossie McLean, and with choreography by Michael Ralph who was assisted by Cheerleader Coach Natalie Commons.
There is a lot to love about this production. It is fun. It is easy (well for the audience) but it doesn’t go much deeper than that. A predictable story loosely based on a movie many enjoyed in their youth. It might be fluff and there’s nothing wrong with that. Go in and enjoy Bring It On for what it is meant to be. Pure pop escapism.
David Venn Enterprises presents
Bring It On
original story Jeff Whitty | music and lyrics Lin-Manual Miranda | music Tom Kitt | lyrics Amanda Green
Director Alister Smith
Venue: Athenaeum Theatre | 188 Collins St, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 11 – 27 July 2019
Tickets: $49 – $119
Also touring Perth (8 – 18 August 2019) and Sydney (27 August – 8 September 2019)