Here's one musical where the backup dancers truly rise above. That's thanks to a natural combination of cheerleading and dance that has audiences oohing and ahhing at the physical feats that young Broadway performers can achieve. The show is almost deliberately thin on story -- with obvious diversions from the original 2000 film -- which didn't seem to bother the crowd chock full of applauding teenagers.
The show has the teenage sect in mind throughout with its themes built around identity, self esteem, jealousy, pettiness, and of course fitting in. When the young Campbell (played by Taylor Louderman) must adjust to her new school entering her senior year of high school, she is snubbed by but then welcomed into a crew of outcasts who teach her that there's more to life than cheerleading. The early part of the show fixates on Campbell's self-centeredness by giving her a series of solos that leaves you craving for her to find her own way.
It never takes itself too seriously, full of jokes touching on today's teenage technological habits and several other clever references to current events. The cheerleaders give us winks and nods, fully aware that the importance of winning nationals pales in comparison to real-life problems and even adolescent friendships. When Campbell arrives at her new school, her whole world is turned upside down, and the music reflects a world of change going from traditional Broadway to a more urban touch.
But it's the stunts that have people talking. With most Broadway shows, the performers, particularly the supporting cast, will put on a real show. In Bring It On, the flying cast will have you fearful for their safety one moment and cheering them on for incredible achievements the next.
What's more, the show successfully integrates plot points into the dancing routines themselves to demonstrate the social hierarchy and need for acceptance and support. Although songs might push the plot along thanks to new information or through revealed secrets, the dancing portions go to showing who fits in and who sticks out from the rest of the group. With such a large cast of dozens of actors on stage at once, if someone doesn't have a large part front and center it's indicative of a loner status. As characters emerge from the sidelines, though, you witness them literally rise to the top.