Seeing as how I was a cheerleader for almost ten years, I would have seen Bring It On before now, but no one’s done it in Mackay, and because I am bound by the GPS points of 4-7-4-0, I had to wait until someone brilliant like Tania Attard decided to undertake it. I’ve never seen one of Mercy College’s shows before because I’m usually too tired to move after whatever MMCP rehearsal I’ve been flattened with that week, but as soon as I found out that it was being directed by THE Tania Attard (she earned that Uppercase ‘THE’ in Hairspray for me because it’s still the best show I’ve ever seen) and starring half of the kids that I’ve seen and have come to adore on the MMCP circuit, I was sold.
So tonight I dragged my retired pom-pom waving self and my still pom-pom waving daughter along to catch the opening night performance and we both had a great time. Cheerleading isn’t a sport that’s taken very seriously but the original Bring It On movie can be credited for changing a lot of people’s attitudes towards it. In fact, since that movie debuted cheerleading has gone from being a bit of an American stereotype to a worldwide phenomenon, and although it’s still stereotyped, it’s in a more multi-layered way now. You’ve got the glitz and the ponytail whips and the sassy popular girls, but there’s true athleticism buried under all of that glitter and Hairspray (Hairrrsssppprraaayyyyy!) And it creates incredibly powerful friendships between all kinds. In addition to that, the entire sport is about to be validated for real as its being introduced into the Olympics, and that’s been a long time coming. (Spoiler alert one- The Philippines is about to wear some gold, yo!)
Bring It On The Musical is very different to Bring It On The Movie though. (Spoiler alert 2-it’s actually a lot like the third movie Bring It On 3 All or Nothing which was the best one so we good) but the stage adaption focuses less on cheerleading and more on the relationships between the squad members. You still get the cute routines performed by some incredibly skilled athletes, but you get a lot of great songs that I think teenagers are going to love. My daughter walked out going: ‘I waannnaaa beee innn thattt….’ and I’m not surprised. The songs and choreography was very modern, so there was a booty shake for every high V, which a dancer will appreciate.
The cast was full of energy, and I was incredibly impressed by a lot of the choreography and some of the skill sets that these kids had, and I’m a hard sell because I have legit seen about 1040 cheerleading performances by this point. To be honest the moves aren’t quite as gravity defying (I’m in a theatre-pun mood so excuse me) as in the movie and I’m grateful that they weren’t because when I walked in I started eyeing the lighting-scaffolding warily lest a baskettoss should go awry (I speak from gymnasium ceiling fan experience), but the director and choreographer have managed to create two incredible cheerleading teams out of one high school cast and I appreciate what a feat that is. I got the impression that there were a few cases of opening night nerves and a few technical glitches, but I daresay they’ll be nonexistent tomorrow night and really, these kids pulled off a cracker of a show. Whoever handled the lighting/staging concept was incredibly inspired- the experience was not that different to being in the MECC.
As I’ve mentioned before, there were quite a few very small but very seasoned actors within the cast and to me they shone like absolute stars tonight. But the great thing about this show is that it gave everyone something wonderful to do- some moment to stand out. Of course your eye goes to the leading lady because she has to be on from start to finish and played her role perfectly, but the script grants every cast member the chance to pull focus or switch it up. There was no good guys vs bad guy feels being pushed onto the audience, because the antagonist was just a little bucket of adorable too, and I really appreciate that because to me, it helped encouraged healthy competition without hate and that is such an important lesson for teens today to get. In the same vein, I won’t go naming a lot of names with people so young, but the parrot (lorikeet?), the rappers, (good grief I almost laughed my way under my seat) and the sassy misses heading the Jackson Crew stole the show for me tonight. And some of the athletic skills that were rolled out in the finale had me, well…cheering. Ten spirit fingers go to the little leaper, the girl that pulled the bow and arrow and the vocal stylings of Georgia Attard, who I cannot help but name because I think everyone’s going to know it soon enough! And as far as superstars go, hats off to the typically-unappreciated person who slaved over the programs because they were AMAZING. Whoever did those deserves a bow of their own at the end! But you cannot walk away from this particular production without knowing that every single person involved gave 150% of themselves in the end, especially the director who never ceases to amaze me.
Bring It On The Musical will be on tomorrow night and Saturday night at Mercy College, and you don’t want to miss your chance to either get your teen to go on with you as a mother daughter date like I did, or con them into going as a group because it will be a fantastic night out that’ll have all that see it feeling uplifted after.
Tickets can be bought over the phone or at Mercy College and are a great price, so make sure you take some time out to be entertained!