Bring It On: Southwark Playhouse, London
Reviewed 14th August 2018
The British Theatre Academy have taken over the Southwark Playhouse and their UK Premiere of the Broadway hit Bring It On the Musical is packed full of energy and fun. This may be a youth production but these talented performers are the stars of tomorrow. Loosely inspired by the hit 2000 film, Bring It On, this energetic musical is full of friendship, jealousy, betrayal and forgiveness. Featuring an original story by Jeff White with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt and Amanda Green this Tony nominated musical certainly packs a punch.
What instantly astounds is the complete commitment, energy and passion from all the performers. From the fantastic opening number the show just grows in momentum and the actors are confident and at home on the stage. For any fans of the Broadway musical you will be impressed with the Ewan Jones’ direction which stays true to the original production. All of the catchy songs are performed effortlessly, with power and humour in equal measure.
Bring it On may not set the world aflame, but it does provide fantastic entertainment with a clever moral at the end of the show. The audience members on the date of this review were diverse, proving that ‘high-school’ musicals are not just aimed at school-age children – far from it. This is a joyous, fun filled show. Perfect for the summer.
Robyn McIntyre is confident and already has the ability to have the attention of the whole audience as lead character, Campbell. Her subtle facial expressions and convincing acting make her a delight to watch. Robyn’s vocals are perfect for the show, powerful and yet delicate. Another actress who stands out is Kristine Kruse in the role of Bridget. Not only does she have the belt to knock the audience off their seats but her comic timing and expressions are hilarious. ‘It Ain’t No Thing‘ is definitely a highlight of the show. Matthew Brazier, as La Cienega, is dynamic and in total command of the audience, a young Jamie New/Lola in the making. In fact, the entire cast are worthy of mention from Chisara Agor’s sassy, confident Danielle, to Isabella Pappas’ ‘bitchy’ yet comic bully Skylar. Haroun Al-Jeddal’s Randall adds the charming love interest and his vocals during ‘Enjoy The Trip‘ are a great demonstration of acting through song. Obviously the show couldn’t happen without the ultimate mean girl – Ava. Sydnie Hocknell excels in this role. Her vocals are top notch but it is her characterisation that make her really stand out. She completely becomes Ava from the moment she steps on stage and her performance of ‘Killer Instinct‘ demonstrates her commitment to the character.
The choreography and acro throughout the show is clean and precise. It’s an all-energy show and the performers never let this slip. Given the small performance space, choreographer Ewan Jones and Katy Stephens have done a great job of not making the stage feel overcrowded and yet still pulling off large ensemble numbers. The cheerleading sections, in particular, are modern, quick and pacy – just what you’d expect from cheerleading nationals.
Whilst there are a few questionable choices of set pieces and some of the transitions feel slightly forced, the overall production is extremely high quality and certainly what audiences have come to expect the from the Southwark Playhouse. Do not dismiss this as being a ‘youth’ production – it is as professional as they come and guaranteed to have audiences grinning and dancing along by the curtain call. Definitely do not miss the chance to see these future stars shine!
Bring It On is playing at the Southwark Playhouse until 2nd September. For information or tickets click here.
Photo Credit: Eliza Wilmot