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Theater Review: 'Bring It On: The Musical' -- 3.5 stars

"Bring It On: The Musical"

"Bring It On: The Musical" Credit: Joan Marcus

Bring It On: The Musical
3.5 stars

This new musical inspired by the 2000 Kirsten Dunst film about competitive high school cheerleaders, which has played a long national tour before its limited run on Broadway, is obviously more likely to appeal to teens weaned on "High School Musical" and "Glee" than the majority of adult theatergoers.

As you'd expect, it features unbelievable displays of acrobatics and gymnastic abilities, including but not limited to young girls being flipped high in the air.

But it also proves to be a surprisingly well-crafted, highly enjoyable, feel-good musical with appealing characters, catchy R&B and rap songs, fierce hip-hop choreography and very funny dialogue packed with social media jokes.

Although the musical is being produced by Universal Pictures, its story line and characters differ somewhat from the film version.

Campbell (Taylor Louderman), a wealthy white girl who is a rising high school senior and was just voted captain of the cheerleading squad, is unexpectedly redistricted to another high school made up primarily of minority students.

Once Campbell realizes that her next-door neighbor Eva (Elle McLemore) carefully plotted the redistricting in order to steal her slot as captain, Campbell convinces the dance troop of her new school to compete as cheerleaders.

The musical's unexpected artistic success probably lies in its dream creative team, which includes "In the Heights" songwriter Lin Manuel-Miranda, "Next to Normal" composer Tom Kitt, "High Fidelity" lyricist Amanda Green and "Avenue Q" book-writer Jeff Whitty.

Andy Blankenbuehler, who choreographed "In the Heights," now serves as director and choreographer of this very polished production, which features four video walls that are constantly reconfigured to suggest different settings and countless stadium lights.

The very pretty Louderman, who was still a sophomore at the University of Michigan before being cast, makes a terrific Broadway debut, stressing the character's sweet and aggressive qualities.


If you go: "Bring It On: The Musical" plays at the St. James Theatre through Oct. 7. 246 W. 44th St., 212-239-6200, bringitonmusical.com.

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