BRING IT ON
By Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt, Amanda Green & Jeff Whitty.
Southwark Playhouse, the Large, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD to 1 Septenmber 2018.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Tues & Sat 3pm
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval.
TICKETS:020 7407 0234.
Review: William Russell 7 August
Great cast in a less than perfect show save the evening
As a show case for the talents of the senior students of the British Theatre Academy currently occupying Southwark Playhouse for the month of August this show based on an old high school movie which spawned a series offers lots of chances for them to shine. They are duly taken. The players have been efficiently drilled, show amazing energy at a time when theatres like this are virtually saunas, and while the audience may flag they certainly do not. But let us not pretend the show itself is anything special. The score is loud and predictable and the plot hardly worth following, although the lyrics when audible sound as if they could be quite funny.
At Truman High a girl called Cambell has entered senior year,
become captain of the cheer leading squad and aims to win the national championship, but a wicked rival manages to ensure she loses her place in school and is sent to study at down market Jackson High which does not do cheer leading.
The rites of passage in American high schools may divert American audiences and, given that prom nights seem to have sprung up here, maybe we are going that way too as a society, but that still doesn’t make it much of a show. The cast does.
That inaudibility is not their fault. Staging something with the audience on three sides creates a great space for the dance numbers but it means that songs get directed all over the place.
Director Ewan Jones keeps his large cast on the move, and if the choreography smacks more of the gymnasium than the dance floor well cheer leaders don’t do much dancing. But there is a limit to the number of double summersaults , back flips and raising someone to the skies only for them to collapse into a cradle of welcoming arms that one can marvel at. Overkill is a mistake.
Robybn McIntyre shines as Cambell who has lessons to learn about loyalty and friendship, Isabella Papas draws the eye as one of the Truman nasties who repent, Kristine Kruse is a bundle of energentic fun as what passes for heroine’s best friend, and Chisara Agor sings rather gorgeously as Jackson High’s leading girl.
This is a girlie show and the men, apart from doing those back flips, do not get many chances but as La Cienega, a gloriously gay beanpole, Matthew Brazier delivers a drop them dead in the aisles performance. Everyone else works their socks off. There is a neat set, the production values are high – terrific costumes – and the band under Chris Ma does wonders with the score. Matthew Chandler’s British Theatre Academy has come up trumps yet again.
Campbell: Robyn McIntyre.
Danielle: Chisara Agor.
Bridget: Kristine Kruse.
Randall: Haroun Al Jeddal.
Eva: Sydonie Hocknell.
Nautica: Mary Celeste.
:a Cienega: Matthew Brazier.
Skylar: Isabella Pappas.
Kylar: Claire Gleave.
Cameron: Clark James.
Twig: Ashley Daniels.
Steven: Samuel Witty.
Jake: Morgan Howard Chambers.
Woman: Millie Longhurst.
Man: Charlie Fisher.
Tyler: Ben Terry.
Stacey: Amy Howell.
Swing: Billy Nevers, Nathaniel Purnell.
Ensemble: Abigail Gilder, Ailsa Spangler, Angeli De La Cruz, Eithne Cox, Ellie Goddard, Georgina Jones, Grace Venus, Katie Burrows, Lauryb Bryan, Lillian Abbey, Madison Sproston, Tabitha Knowles, Tamsin Smith, Zoe Karl.
Director/Choreographer: Ewan Jones.
Musical Director: Chris Ma,
Set & Costume Designer: Tom Paris.
Lighting Designer: Ben Jacobs.
Sound Design: Andrew Johnson & Hannah Reymes-Clemerson.
Associate Director/Choreographer: Katy Stepphens.
Vocal Coach: Stephen King.
Production photographs: Eliza Wilmot.