Bring It On: musical lights up the SF Orpheum

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By Laura Albert

 

It’s said that often the only people nostalgic about high school are football stars and cheerleaders. But in the new musical “Bring It On,” based on the movie of the same name, we learn that being a cheerleader is nowhere near a walk in the park. Rising to the top requires back-stabbing, mono-inducing, blackmailing antics — and that’s not to mention the athletic prowess required to pull off the moves. “Bring It On” chronicles the story of Campbell (Taylor Louderman), the head cheerleader at Truman High, who’s gearing up to make a run at the national cheerleading title with her squad…until unexpected redistricting forces her to enroll in nearby Jackson High for her senior year, a school that has a dance crew, but no cheerleading squad. Now, Campbell is determined to bring cheerleading to Jackson in an effort to salvage her senior year and maybe — just maybe — snatch the national title she’s worked for her entire life.

The characters are peppy and full of sass, slinging one-liners back and forth at each other that draw guffaws from the audience as they jump from Wikipedia to “Hoarders” and back again. But the show’s real strength is in the choreography and the cheerleading stunts, which are real and electrifying. Say what you will about pom-poms and cheer squads, when the Truman and Jackson squads boosted their flyers twenty feet in the air onstage, my heart jumped into my throat watching. Bringing it home is the excellent cast featuring Bridget (Ryan Redmond), the sole Truman High student to be transferred alongside Campbell, who grows in stride and confidence by the end of the show; Danielle (Adrienne Warren), Jackson High’s queen bee and the leader of the dance crew turned cheerleading squad; and Eva (Elle McLemore), the girl-next-door turned power-hungry cheerleader who is, frankly, just a little terrifying (her bounciness only makes her scarier).

A show for the ages? I’m sure you can say that about a show that features a love song to a break-dancing leprechaun. The dancing is spot on, the stunts truly awe-inspiring, and the characters laugh-inducing. Fans of the movie will not be disappointed. “Bring It On,” directed by Andy Blankenbuehler, plays at the Orpheum Theatre December 14 through January 7, 2012.

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