‘Bring It On’ to stage choreography, laughs for Penn State audience

For the CDTApril 11, 2014 

“Bring It On: The Musical” will stop at Penn State as part of the Center for the Performing Arts’ spring season.

JUSTIN ADAMS — Photo provided

  • if you go

    What: “Bring It On: The Musical”

    When: 7:30 p.m. April 17

    Where: Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park

    Info: www.cpa.psu.edu, 800-ARTS-TIX

It seems nowadays everything and anything is being turned into a Broadway musical.

Considering that the source material behind productions such as “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark” and “Seussical” could not be further removed from the complex choreography and song showmanship that typically defines a traditional musical, it only makes sense to adapt a film that already has those two traits deeply ingrained in its DNA. Enter “Bring It On.”

Based on the 2000 Kirsten Dunst comedy about two rival high school cheerleading squads, “Bring It On” was begging to be appropriated for the stage. Outfitted with the gyrating gymnastics that makes cheerleading such a visual spectacle and loaded with the humor that made the film resonate so strongly with audiences, the musical will stop by Eisenhower Auditorium on April 17 as part of its nationwide tour.

“The musical is actually just loosely based on the film,” said Maisie Salinger, who plays Bridget. “Of course it has all of the cheerleading in it, but it’s a different kind of story with a lot of new characters who are really fun. Anyone who really loves the movie will definitely love the musical. I don’t have a cheerleading background at all, I come from the musical theater, and what these athletes are doing — the tumbling and the stunts — is incredible. It’s like watching Cirque du Soleil. At our first rehearsal, the girls were being thrown so high into the air it was terrifying and amazing.”

“I am a gymnast, a dancer and did competitive cheer for two years, and then I got my degree in acting,” ensemble member Chailee Friant said. “Being able to combine all of those things into one show has been a dream come true, and being surrounded by such a talented cast has been so amazing.”

“A lot of us musical theater kids have never really done any sorts of stunts like this and a lot of the cheerleaders have never done musical theater, so it’s been a really beautiful mix of people coming together in awe of each other, ” Salinger added.

Having first premiered in January 2011 in Atlanta, the show made its Broadway debut in the summer of 2012, eventually running for 173 performances and earning Tony Award nominations for best musical and best choreography. With the story, music, lyrics and choreography all created by Tony Award winners, the pedigree encompassing “Bring It On” is beyond impressive and certainly isn’t lost on the performers who are more than ready to uphold this legacy.

“We are only the second people to be playing these roles, which is just really exciting,” Salinger said. “We got to work with the original creative team and the material and people we have worked with have been pretty outstanding.”

“Although I never got the chance to see the production when it was on Broadway, it’s been really great being a member of the ensemble,” said Friant, who also spent two years acting and doing stunt work at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. “Most of what we are doing sticks closely to the Broadway original, which is still so good, however, I do get to loosely originate my own characters, which is a lot of fun for me.”

Grossing more than $90 million during its theatrical release 14 years ago, the financial dent that “Bring It On” made was nothing when compared to the cultural impact it had on middle- and high-school-aged students. The film has since become a quotable cult classic.

“I think that the movie is brilliant, it’s hilarious,” Salinger said. “Me and my friends were in middle school when we watched it all the time. We knew the whole cheer by heart and we sang ‘Mickey’ after the credits rolled. It’s got a great following and I’m so happy to be a part of it now.”

“Younger people are able to relate to it and even those who are older and less familiar with the movie are able to flash back to what they were like in high school,” Friant said about the staying power behind “Bring It On.” “The audience can relate to the different characters and the different cliques that are in the show and I think that it uniquely speaks to everyone who sees both the movie and the show.”

Much like the film itself, “Bring It On: The Musical,” is a consistently clever, funny and touching examination of the challenges and complexities that are carved out of competition and forged in friendship. In addition to this sentimentality, the theatrical flair is in abundance and audiences will be left mouths agape after witnessing what unfolds on stage.

“It’s a colorful crew of characters with exciting and fresh music, dynamic choreography with a lot of aerial stunts,” Friant said. “This show has both everything that you could hope for while also being completely unexpected.”

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