Dancing and cheering and singing, together at last at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre
You either fall or you’re flying.
Those wise words were belted out by the head cheerleader in Bring it On: The Musical, which opened this week at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre. It could be a metaphor expect she means it literally. This show has plenty of flying.
Here’s the quick of it: Rich white cheerleader with the perfect life gets uprooted and dumped into the school across the proverbial tracks. There’s no squad (gasp!) but there’s a hip hop dance crew that has a thing or two to teach her. There’s some racial misunderstanding, inspirational speeches, working class stereotypes and plenty of pop culture (one girl confronting another after discovering her deception: “I’ve got Google, bitch”; another perfectly mocks the vocal fry made trendy by famously airy folk like Zooey Deschanel).
But who cares about plot when we all know we’re here for the cheerleading.
Picture sexy men and women in sparkly booty shorts somersaulting, backflipping, leaping off each others’ shoulders and flying into another’s arms. This being Mirvish, there are plenty of Tony-award-winning crew behind the scenes, including the orchestrator from Wicked and the lyricist from High Fidelity (which I was lucky enough to review last year). There were giant choreographed ensembles, flashy light shows and plenty of costume changes. It was spectacularly over-the-top and I loved every minute of it.
Fans of the namesake movie or the three (!) straight-to-video followups are rewarded with some choice one-liners, but the plot, characters and schools are different. The play shares the same cheerspirit when it both mocks the players and celebrates the sport. I laughed often.
Of course, as anyone who has ever pirated a dance-themed teen comedy may predict, there is plenty of awkward romance. For me the slowburning relationship between the sweet and hardworking head cheerleader and the music-curating hipster was the least inspired part, a bit boring a times. Thankfully it was completely overshadowed by the fantastic performances by two supporting characters falling in love (Ryann Redmond as Bridget and Nicolas Womack as Steven).
Bring it On: The Musical is a family-friendly take on a classically campy story. The songs are hilarious and catchy, written to mimic music someone’s kid is probably listening to now. There are some kickass raps and even better dancing. Did I mention the booty shorts?
It’s worth going, if only to see the mascot dance.
– Bring it On: The Musical is playing until at Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria St) till June 3, 2012
– Performances run Tuesday to Saturday 8PM, Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday 2PM. Added performance Sunday May 6, 8PM
– Ticket prices range from $35 to $130 depending on the performance. Rush seats are available for $25.
– Tickets are available online, in person or by calling the box office at 416 872 1212
Photo of Nicolas Womack by Joan Marcus