For the past three weeks or so, my grandmother had not hesitated to remind me of the tickets she bought to a musical. The only thing was, she couldn’t remember what the musical was about.
“So, what’s the musical called?” I asked her, after she prided herself on the center seats she found.
“Erm … Bring? Bring on? I don’t quite remember, but I think it has the same producers as that other play we saw… High… Heights -”
“In the Heights?”
“Yes, that’s it!”
So, after much anticipation, my grandmother finally drove me to that musical that may have the word “Bring” in it and that possibly had the same producers as that one musical with rapping.
When we neared the theater, billboards began to showcase future productions. One particular production had the word “Bring” in its title. It also had pom-poms and mini-skirts. I was going to see “Bring it On: The Musical.” I was going to see a cheerleader musical. I hiccupped.
“Oh! We’re watching Bring it On.” The mere act of uttering the title made my cheeks flush. “Like the movie.”
My grandmother smiled back at me – she thought I had gasped with delight.
“I know, I’ve been looking forward to this all week! And our seats are so close to the stage!”
As we walked into the theater, the normal crowds of elaborately-dressed ladies drenched in turquoise stones were replaced by unusually excitable eighth graders. A few even boasted cheerleading uniforms, painfully tight pigtails and all.
My grandmother suddenly bonded with the woman in turquoise, sitting beside her: “So,” she laughed with the woman. “Do you think this musical is going to be about cheerleaders?”
Their conversation was cut off as a gigantic scoreboard flashed out the seconds before the start of the play.
“72!” cried out the twelve-year-olds. “71! 70! 69! 68!”
67 seconds later, the scoreboard, of course, turned into a moving television screen, waving animations of fireworks and flags behind cheerleaders being thrown into the air. Most of the audience yelled and clapped. “Woo.” And suddenly, all that was left was a girl who belted out the benefits of being a “bi-yotch.” The 12-year-olds screamed before glancing nervously at their parents.
The impressive flips transformed into the story of Campbell, the cheerleading captain who was redistricted into a school with, of course, no cheer squad. Separated from her true love, she eventually learns that the warmth of new friends trumps even the shiniest of trophies.
It turned out that Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of “In the Heights”, actually did write some of the music, as did writers for “Avenue Q,” “Next to Normal” and other unusually high-profile musicals. I felt conflicted.
After the play, my grandmother asked if I had ever wanted to be a cheerleader myself.
“Oh, well, I guess our school doesn’t really have an official cheer –”
“Your mother was a cheerleader once…”
“Well, not quite, I guess. She was a majorette. But she was captain, I think. ”
Bring it On: The Musical, chock full of cartweels and drama, is at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center until Dec. 10. 135 N. Grand Ave.