Fun, sassy exuberance is the bill of fare at the Schuster Center as the appealing national tour/ local premiere of “Bring it On: The Musical” charms and entertains.
Presented as a special Star Attractions courtesy of the Victoria Theatre Association, “Bring it On,” a 2013 Tony Award nominee for Best Musical, effectively adheres to the silly, fluff-filled cinematic franchise of the same name launched in 2000 starring Kirsten Dunst. Popular Truman High School cheerleader Campbell (truly delightful triple threat Nadia Vynnytsky) is thrown for a loop when she’s suddenly redistricted to urban Jackson High School. In an attempt to assimilate as best as possible, Campbell joins Jackson’s flavorful hip-hop crew led by the fiery, no-nonsense Danielle (a marvelously commanding, vocally strong Zuri Washington). However, Campbell’s insistence that Jackson create a squad that can match the Truman team, now led by the wholesome yet treacherous sophomore Eva (a fittingly coy Emily Mitchell, who was replaced in Act 2 at the performance attended by the comical Mia Weinberger), is a morale-boosting decision that ultimately evolves with disheartening repercussions which shape the musical’s engaging viewpoints of friendship, disloyalty, identity and forgiveness.
Tony-winning librettist Jeff Whitty (“Avenue Q”) crafts a thoroughly engaging and witty look at contemporary high school life although Truman lacks the personality and depth of Jackson. The catchy, tuneful score, co-composed by Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal”), Tony nominee Amanda Green (“Hands on a Hardbody”) and Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (“In the Heights”), contains too many similarly introspective ballads for Campbell, but the upbeat, hip-hop-infused numbers are scintillating, especially “Do Your Own Thing,” “We Ain’t No Cheerleaders,” “Friday Night Jackson,” and “It’s All Happening.”
In addition to the aforementioned principals, excellent performances extend to the hilariously spunky Maisie Salinger as Campbell’s goofy friend Bridget, the terrifically spicy Sharrod Williams as the uniquely flamboyant La Cienega, Jennifer Geller as La Cienega’s lively cohort Nautica, Bailey Purvis as Truman mean girl Skylar, the charismatic Tyler Bertolone as Campbell’s unpretentious love interest Randall, Andy White as Campbell’s dopey ex-boyfriend Steven, and Erin L. Fleming (Twig) and AJ Lockhart (Cameron) as playful Jackson students.
Tony-winning director/choreographer and Cincinnati native Andy Blankenbuehler (“In the Heights”) keeps the fast-paced action breezy and fluid. His sharp vision is nicely complemented by Jeff Sugg’s eye-catching video design, David Korins’ efficient sets, Jason Lyons’ expert lighting, Cody Spencer’s first-rate sound design, and Andrea Lauer’s colorful costumes. Still, Blankenbuehler absolutely pulls out the stops with his jaw-dropping competition routines spotlighted in “What I Was Born to Do,” “Legendary,” “Cross the Line,” and the title number. When this cast flies into the air with zestful abandon, “Bring it On” thrillingly soars.
“Bring it On: The Musical” concludes tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Schuster Center, Second and Main Streets, Dayton. Act One: 58 minutes; Act Two: 60 minutes. Tickets are $25-$70. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the student rush discount for half off tickets. For tickets or more information, call Ticket Center Stage (937) 228-3630 or visit www.ticketcenterstage.com