Based loosely on the hit 2000 film comedy of the same name, the piece features a script by Tony Award winner Jeff Whitty that is very fun and filled with many clever lines, but tied to a story so paper-thin it makes Legally Blonde seem like The King and I.
With the help of the lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Amanda Green, Whitty builds endearing characters, such as spirited cheerleader captain Campbell (Taylor Louderman); Skylar (Kate Rockwell), a mean girl with a razor wit; and Bridget (Ryann Redmond), a heavy-set unpopular girl who's more loveable than she realizes.
A school redistricting causes Campbell's life to collapse, forcing her to a school lacking a cheerleading program. Campbell now becomes the low girl on the totem pole and must duel with the new school's queen bee (Adrienne Warren). At her old school, Campbell's shoes have been filled by a sophomore named Eva (Elle McLemore), who may not be as innocent as she seems.
Miranda and Green find amusing rhymes for their songs, matching "Bring It On" with "Leprechaun" and "It's no big" with "helping me with Trig." They spoof a lot Disney film songs with tunes such as "What I Was Born To Do" and also send up the opening number of A Chorus Line during cheering tryouts.
The melodies by Miranda and Tom Kitt are filled with fast-paced, tongue-twisting notes. Some of the songs, like "It's Right In Front Of You" and "It Ain't No Thing" will make great pop tunes. Miranda and Kitt even manage to turn the word "Bi-atch" into a song's belting end-note.
Every one of the kids is outstanding. bringing the right mix of intensity and perfect comic timing. Louderman is a born musical heroine, with a winning voice and captivating persona. Gregory Haney stands out as a sassy drag queen (who, only in this fantasy world, would be popular with the entire student body), as does Rockwell as the cheer-squad hatchet girl. Warren has a voice as smoky as barbeque sauce and gets smooth backup from Ariana DeBose.
Director Andy Blankenbuehler's choreography is delightfully grandiose with feats on the level of Cirque du Soleil. The kids pop each other high in the air; do flips from standing positions, and move with precision and verve. Blankenbuehler keeps the pacing so rapid that the show's flaws are irrelevant, at least until the adrenaline subsides.
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