By Neil Durham
WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHEN?: Saturday 15 January (matinee), runs to Saturday 22 January 2022
We’re here because Lin-Manuel Miranda co-wrote this musical and we’re big fans of his In The Heights rather than his mega hit Hamilton.
- Read on for reasons including why you should catch this stand-out show while you can
And while the trademark rapping with sharp lyrics for which Miranda is renowned is a little in evidence it is the Glee-with-impressive-acrobatics that most characterises this lively and engaging musical.
Love Island winner Amber Davies is our heroine Campbell who is all set to lead her cheerleading team to another win at nationals until she is forced to swap schools.
She finds herself in a more diverse and working class school and, while the dancing is more street, Campbell tries to find new friends and persuade them to compete against her old school.
Bring It On was originally a 2000 film starring Kirsten Dunst and Miranda co-wrote the musical in 2011 before he found worldwide acclaim and it transferred to Broadway a year later.
It arrived off West End in 2018 and this production was intended to tour after its London engagement but those plans have abandoned because Covid struck the cast this Christmas causing some performances to be cancelled.
For us there were 2 outstanding songs and we were particularly struck by the journey of Bridget engagingly played by Chelsea Hall who learns to love herself during It Ain’t No Thing despite her body issues.
Later love interest Randall played with real magnetism by Connor Carson encourages our heroine during song Enjoy The Trip to embrace her school years because they won’t last long.
We thought Olympic medallist Smith might contribute more but he does get to flick-flack impressively about the stage and we think it is both the dancing and acrobatics here that are most memorable during this show. Special mention to dancers Oliver Adam-Reynolds and Ayden Morgan who caught our eye. Chloe Pole was also very funny as the self-absorbed Skylar.
We loved the casting of the non-binary Jal Joshua as La Cienega and they were clearly having an absolute ball while Vanessa Fisher as Danielle had the best singing voice, Alicia Belgarde as our heroine’s rival Eva was suitably derranged and Davies’ warmth had us rooting for her.
The book by Jeff Whitty was entirely unpredictable and it’s a real shame that this stand-out production is unable to run and run as it deserves to do.