Album Review: Bring It On: The Musical (2012 Original Broadway Cast Recording)

“Even mocking cheerleaders cannot hide the emptiness in my soul”


Before Hamilton, but after In The Heights, Lin-Manuel Miranda found the time to write the score to the musical adaptation of one of my legit favourite films, the Kirsten Dunst-starring high school cheerleader classic Bring It On. With Tom Kitt and Amanda Green, Miranda brings a defiantly 90s feel to the sound of Bring It On: The Musical, an interesting choice that doesn’t always necessarily work but is fascinating with it.


The story has been changed a little from the film from what I could make out but the bones of it remain the same – intense rivalries both within high school and with other high schools culminating the cheer-off of all cheer-offs at National where everyone has to ‘bring it’. And reflecting the urban diversity of this world, elements of pop, RnB and hip-hop are easily folded into the Broadway template make this modern, if weirdly dated, score.


What’s most interesting for me is the way in which you can hear elements of the Hamilton score in a kind of embryonic form in some of the numbers. The refrain of ‘It’s All Happening’ has definite pre-echoes in there and the chromatic scales in ‘Do Your Own Thing’ recall the young Philip learning French to please his father. There’s some powerful performances here from the leads Taylor Louderman, Ryann Redmond and Adrienne Warren, plus a notable turn from Elle McLemore as the villainous Eva but I don’t think it is a cast recording I’d be returning to in a hurry. (That said, I’d happily go see it on stage).

Album Review: If/Then (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

“I know all the odds and even so…” 

One of the temptations with cast recordings, and something that’s been facilitated by the dawning of the digital age, is to make a playlist of your favourite songs and then forget about the others. I am terrible for doing this – it’s why I’m word perfect on only half of Wicked – and yet I never seen to stop. If/Then is a good example of this – the edited highlights on my iPhone give the impression of a great show whereas the reality is more just good

Predictably, these excerpts mostly include Idina Menzel’s inimitable vocal, around which Tom Kitt’s score was crafted. The delicate duet of ‘Here I Go’ with the lovely James Snyder, the stirring ‘You Learn To Live Without’, the irresistible melodic force of ‘Always Starting Over’, she’s so at home in this world of emotionally swirling tunes that it is impossible not to get swept up with her, especially in the last song’s slow-building climax. Continue reading “Album Review: If/Then (Original Broadway Cast Recording)”

Review: If/Then, Richard Rodgers Theatre

“I’d lie to say I’m never sometimes always thinking of you”

I couldn’t do New York without taking the opportunity to see Idina Menzel and in lieu of battling the crowds at Times Square, tickets were booked for her starring role in Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey’s If/Then. Having had the soundtrack for a wee while now, and being a big fan thereof, I pretty much knew what I was letting myself in for, meaning there was none of the apparent confusion that blighted much of the initial critical response which found the show hard to follow.

Is it confusing? I don’t think so. It’s tricksy yes, as a twin set of narratives follow two different paths that newly-divorced Elizabeth could take as she moves to New York City to start her life anew. Pushing 40, she feels the clock ticking both personally and professionally and so as Liz it is the former that takes precedent and as Beth, the latter. The same friends and colleagues appear in each strand too, with different experiences so you do have to pay some attention but that’s no real hardship. Continue reading “Review: If/Then, Richard Rodgers Theatre”