Bring It On is loosely based on the 2000 film of the same name starring Kirsten Dunst. It’s about the competitive world of cheerleading and team rivalries. Campbell has made her dream of being cheerleading Captain at Trauman High School when she gets re-assigned to inner-city Jackson High School. Here she meets the hip-hop dance crew, but her paranoia over Eva, now captain of the cheerleading squad, threatens to disrupt her quickly forming friendships at her new school. Through rivalry, betrayal and forgiveness, the teenagers discover who they are and what it means to be a good sportsperson and a good friend.
The original Broadway production of Bring it On is written by Tony Award winner Jeff Whitty with music and lyrics by Tony-award wining composer Lin-Manuel Miranda of ‘Hamilton’ fame. Pulitzer and Tony-award winning composer Tom Kitt and Broadway lyricist Amanda Green round out the creative talents. It’s no wonder Bring It On The Musical was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical.
This current production is presented by Quay Players, a community-based amateur musical theatre group who deliver high quality, accessible musical theatre to South East London. They perform two productions a year at The Greenwood Theatre- a musical in July and a pantomime at Christmas (Cinderella for 2019).
With a cast of 52 members, there are too many to name individually, but it was interesting to read in the directors note that for 23 of them it was their first production with Quay Players. It’s never easy performing and they all should be congratulated. However there were a couple of particular standouts- Jenny Galloway as the sassy Skylar and Emily Law as the loveable Bridget. Both have great stage presence, get fully into their characters, make the audience laugh and have powerful vocals. They are ones to watch. Tim Watson should also be congratulated for his performance as La Cienaga.
Director and Chair of Quay Players Kate Hannam has used minimal props and sets to show the story, meaning it focuses on the characters personal growth. However, at times there was too much exposition and the pace needed to be picked up to maintain momentum. Costumes by Emma Sheard were current, edgy and showed the contrast between the schools and within characters themselves.
The seven musicians under Musical Director Mark Smith played exceptionally well. The score showcases R&B and rap as well as upbeat, joyful sounds of the piano, guitar and bass, with slower melodic songs for the more sweeter moments. At times the band were louder than the singers, however, this was more due to either technical issues or human error as there were frequently times when the cast would start to talk or sing and they could not be heard. This meant that plot points and inside jokes were missed. The group R&B and rap sections were particularly harder to hear compared to the solos.
The dance and cheerleading moves were well choreographed by first-time choreographer Lisa Eastman. There was an array of styles from cheerleading to ballet to hip hop. A couple of times it did seem as if those on top of the pyramids were about to fall, but they didn’t. For an amateur production with limited resources, the dance scenes, particularly with hip hop were funky and upbeat and had the audience clapping along.
Built in 1975 through charitable donations, The Greenwood Theatre is leased by King’s College London. It is less than a five minute walk from London Bridge.
Overall, Bring It On is a charming coming-of-age play that will have you chuckling and leaving with a little smile on your face.
Bring It On is only on for 4 performances with two already passed. It’s only on tomorrow Saturday 3rd August at 14:30 and 19:30.
Information about Quay Players
Information about Greenwood Theatre
Address: The Greenwood Theatre, 55 Western Street, Bermondsey, London SE1 3RA.
Written by Caitlin Neal