Bring It On

Feb 15 2023 | By More

★★★★☆    Smashed it

Pleasance Theatre: Tue 14 – Sat 18 Feb 2023
Review by Thom Dibdin

Edinburgh University Footlights give a big, entertaining and generally well thought-through take on Bring It On, at the Pleasance Theatre all week to Saturday.

This is supposedly the cheerleaders musical, but the production goes much deeper than such a description might imply. Under the steady direction of Amy Stinton, this is as much about being yourself, looking out for your pals and overcoming prejudices as it is about waving pompoms about.

A scene from Bring It On. Pic: Lou Collins

Which is not to say that there isn’t a whole lotta cheerleading going on; there is. Not so many pompoms, though, but within the confines of the tiny Pleasance stage and given the acrobatic skills of the company, they absolutely nail it.

There isn’t just the one dance troupe either, but two competing cheerleading squads and a hip- hop crew for choreographers Emily Bealer and Rose Roberts to cope with. Many of the company double or triple up, to perform in all the big ensemble numbers, ensuring that there are plenty of moments to cheer about.

The focus of the show is on Campbell, who is just entering her senior year at Truman High School and has her dream role of cheer captain in the bag – only to discover that her house has been rezoned so she now has to attend inner city Jackson High, where a hip-hop crew headed by the equally driven Danielle provides the dance moves.


Lucy McClure is spot on as Campbell. If she doesn’t go for the big athletic lifts, she cuts a decent cheerleader move and, more to the point, she is able to both belt it out while having the sensitivity to deal with the more intimate numbers.

The Truman dance crew in Bring It On. Pic: Lou Collins

Mokkie Tebeila is, if anything, equipped with an even better set of pipes as the battling Danielle and she is an obvious shoe-in for her place at the head of the hip-hop crew.

Both have their deputies who, in time honoured musical theatre fashion, provide much of the comedic undertones.

At Truman High it is Giulia Pesciarelli as the pushy, bitchy Skylar, pipped to the role of cheer captain, with Kirsten Matthews as her trusty side-kick Kylar. Not to forget Maria McStay who brings a demonic edge to Campbell’s neighbour, the sophomore Eva.

Over at Jackson High the characters are a lot more diverse and interesting. Keiko Tani, as the open-minded Nautica, and Brandon Yim, playing with gender stereotypes as her best pal La Cienega, make great deputies. Ryan Dai (Twig), Benjamin Atkinson (Cameron) and Chris Kane as the Grateful Dead-quoting Randall, all stand out.

Gemima Iseka-Bekano (centre) as Bridget in Bring It On. Pic: Lou Collins

The really interesting character, however, is Campbell’s fellow co-relocated student Bridget thanks to a great turn from Gemima Iseka-Bekano. Put-upon and trying to disappear into the woodwork at Truman, she is astonished to find herself liked and popular at Jackson.

And for all the excellent vocal numbers, well supported by MD Eric Rogers’ small band, and the energy put into the dance numbers, it is at a theatrical level that the company score highest.

There are some particularly tricky rhymes to spit out from the Jackson crew, but it is the way the whole company bring out the full range of emotions that come with being a teenager that really grabs the attention, combined with some killer natural use of modern slang which is made obvious by context and performance.

It’s not a perfect production. While Abi Ehrlich has got the sound design spot on as have Ellie Anderson on costumes and Olivia Pierce on set design, they are somewhat let down by Jacob Henney’s lighting design, which too often leaves much of the stage in shadow.

Still, lighting cues can easily be altered and there is no doubting that overall, this is a belter of a production which toys knowing with cliché at points, but is grown up enough to find the greater meaning underneath.

Running time: Two hours and 30 minutes (including one interval).
Pleasance Theatre,  60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ.
Tue 14 – Sat 18 Feb 2023
Evenings: 7.30pm; Sat Mat: 2.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Footlights Website:
Facebook: @edfootlights
Twitter: @eufootlights
Instagram: @eufootlights

The cast of Bring It On. Pic: Lou Collins


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