Wednesday August 23rd 2017

“Bring It On : The Musical”

Recommended*** When we think back to our high school days, we recall the jocks, the nerds, and of course, the Cheerleaders. hey were the girls most likely to—-, and in some high schools, there were boys on “the squad” as well, although in my day, I do not recall any until college days. In “Bring it On : The Musical, now onstage at The Cadillac Palace Theatre as part of the Broadway in Chicago series, we are treated to a bright, young and highly energetic “musical comedy” that deals with those who are “The Cheerleaders” and of course the most popular. With a Libretto by Jeff Whitty, music by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda and lyrics by Miranda and Amanda Green, this is a solid show featuring rock and roll, rap, rock and a few ballads tossed in to complete the picture.

And what a picture it is. Directed and Choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler, this is an amazing 2 hours and 20 minutes of song, dance and unbelievable gymnastics. Most of this young cast is lean and mean with voices that fill the largess of The Palace Theater and unlike many “rock musicals”, they do not have blaring speakers pounding in our ears. A nice sound mix that works despite there only being  8 musicians and an electronic track, the music works and feels as if an entire orchestra was in the pit.

The story is about the Cheer leading squad that is hopeful to win the big championship. When a new girl tries out and makes the squad, she sets her goal on becoming the “team captain” and taking over the power of Campbell ( a wonderful performance by Taylor Louderman, who can sing even as she is tossed high above the others and then comes down into a somersault- amazing!). Her mother is on the school board and so she has the school district reset so that Campbell and the school mascot Bridget ( the comical Ryann Redmond, who also has a dynamic voice and really moves well) are forced to attend another school.

As it turns out, the new school they are attending has no “squad” and is composed mostly of minorities, none of which would ever consider being “a squad”. While Campbell and Bridget get in with the “in crowd”, a wildly different type of high school crowd, they do convince them that they could take their pent up energy to a new level by competing for the title. She tells them there is more to it than just the honor and a trophy, which they later discover is not true , but they do compete at the end. This competition is amazing and worth the ticket price on its own!

While one might think that this is just another high school show about kids and love, it is truly much more. It is about friendship, honesty, loyalty and that winning is not everything.It also reflects on winning, in many cases, causing loss of another type. Let’s face it, in the years to follow high school, will the dusty trophies in your parent’s basement be of any importance? But, the friends you grew to love and respect in school, will. In fact, many people have their high school friends in their lives forever. This production gets this point across with humor, music and some of the neatest dancing and gymnastic moves I have seen on a stage. This is one of the shortest two plus hour productions I have ever seen on a Chicago stage, and the audience would have sat for an encore.

The entire cast is sensational and while there are some ‘leads” of note, it is the ensemble that truly makes a show like this work. Kate Rockwell,Janet Krupin,Neil Haskell, Elle McLemore ( the new girl on the squad),Michael Mindlin, Nicolas Womack, Dominique Johnson, Jason Gotay, Ariana DeBose, Adrienne Warren ( a marvelous Danielle, who will wow you with her voice and her moves as well as her character development),Calli  Alden,Haley Hannah, Antwan Bethea,Dexter Carr,Courtney Corbeille,Brooklyn Alexis Freitag,Shonica Gooden,( who handles a solo number “Don’t Drop” with great vocal skill)Melody Mills, Michael Naone-Carter,David Ranck,Bettis Richardson, Sheldon Tucker Alysha Umphress ( another soloist with a rousing “Legendary”, Nick Blaemire ( “Cross The Line” soloist leading up to the finale)and Lauren Whitt. Bravo to you all! You deserve the standing ovation you received.

The show will continue before heading on the road through  March 25th at The Cadillac palace Theatre located at 151 West Randolph Street with performances as follows:

Tuesday,Wednesday,Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m., Saturday evening at 8 p.m.

Wednesday,Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m.      

There will be a 7:30 performance on Sunday, March 11th

Tickets range from $18 – $85, well worth the price on this one and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by calling 1-800 775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets or online at

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