As a feminist, I believe no woman should have to defend her journeys into girl culture. As a realist, I offer the following defense as to why I took my friend Katie's free ticket offer and went with her and two friends to Bring It On: The Musical on Saturday at the Buell Theatre instead of watching the Broncos playoff game:
I was a junior in high school when the original Bring it On hit theaters. I genuinely liked the movie and saw it multiple times and sometimes during sleepovers with girlfriends (when we weren't watching Clueless). I also said "like" a lot in high school. Like, every other word. And I love the theater. That's all I'm going to confess in order to explain myself.
There were a lot of haters [read "straight men"] at the musical, but at the end of the performance, even they were giving a standing ovation. Because the musical kind of rocked, and as a double bonus, it saved the pain of watching a 45-10 loss.
Katie has season tickets to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, because unlike me, she chose a career that makes her money. She gets two free tickets to a selection of performances throughout the year and discounted tickets for her friends (hence the freebie girls' night). Since Bring It On was one of the selected performances, and because the ticket holders don't get to choose which performances they get free tickets to, my guess is that many of the men attending were there on forced dates. There were a lot of teenagers/young people out together, as well, which may indicate a surrendering of tickets to get the kids out of the house for the night.
The result accrued the following five people behind me: one angry late-teen girl, feet up on the seat beside me; her two gay friends, who I later found out had bought the ticket for her; and a thirty-something couple, dressed to the nines.
"Are you glad to be out?" asked the blonde thirty-something to her companion. After he grunted and shrugged, she answered her own question by clapping her hands together and exclaiming, "I am soooo excited!" You know what, thirty-something? So were Katie, Keli, Heather and I. (Get a load of the '80s name trifecta that Keli, Heather and I create.)
Here's the short and dirty synopsis: Campbell (Taylor Louderman), the lead cheerleader of the Nationals-winning Truman High squad, is mysteriously redistributed to another school district and must attend the inner-city school, Jackson High. Trials and tribulations ensue, during which Campbell realizes she was ousted on purpose by evil new girl Eva (Elle McLemore), and works to talk "queen bee" Danielle (Adrienne Warren) into helping her win at nationals against Truman.
The acrobats were on point, the script was witty and sarcastic, the lead actors were clearly all well trained, and the set, including three moving LCD panels, was creatively put together and lent itself to the humor of the musical.
The only aspect I had a problem with was being hand-held through race relations by a script about cheerleading. The play acknowledges itself as disingenuous, but that doesn't stop the story from being vapid and unrealistic -- fine for a cheerleading story, but not fine for a story about the delicate intricacies of racial tension. The awkward rich white girl meets inner-city kids and strives to make something of them while discovering herself was Michelle Pfeiffer's bit. And she sucked at it. I got upset, but then I remembered I was at Bring It On: The Musical and relaxed.
The angry teen behind me, however, could not relax. "This musical sucks," she said to her friends during intermission. "I don't like any of the songs, the acting and dancing suck and it's not Bring It On." Whoa, angry teen. I must disagree. The fact that Louderman and Warren could dance, act, cheer and sing and do all of those things very well is impressive. The fact that they could belt out songs from the top of a human pyramid is impressive. The fact that they learned the acrobatics involved in cheerleading and could execute their moves precisely was impressive. Not to mention their comedic timing.
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It's not Bring It On, but a simple bit of research before you came would have cleared that up. The musical was based loosely on one of the sequels, not the original. (Yes, unfortunately, there were four sad sequels.) And, unlike Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku, these actors did not have the benefit of camera angles, second takes and stunt doubles. They "brought it" themselves.
Luckily, her friends had nothing to do with her discontent. "You're very ungrateful, and you're spreading a lot of negative energy," her friend countered. Damn skippy, friend. Because, as Campbell points out at the end, "People make fun of cheerleading, but it's really, really hard."
The musical run through January 21 at the Temple Buell Theatre, as part of the production's Broadway tour. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Denver Center website.