Bring It On: Spring 2018

Photo courtesy of Broadway

Bring It On became a musical after the movie became famous.

This coming spring, Choate will stage Bring It On, the hit Broadway musical based on the eponymous cult classic movie. Bring It On features the music and lyrics of Tom Kitt, Amanda Green, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lin-Manuel Miranda is most famously known for his work on the Tony-award winning musical Hamilton. The musical chronicles an ambitious high school senior, Campbell, and her journey towards the prestigious national cheerleading championships. The musical is most well-known for its diverse characters and high-energy dance numbers.

“I chose Bring It On for many reasons,” director Ms. Deighna DeRiu commented. “I really wanted a show that was modern, had dance, was energetic, and told a story that could resonate with young people. It is about teenagers, there is not one adult character.” The show gives light to a vast perspective of voices through characters with varying social classes, sexual orientations, ethnicities, and race, giving audiences a view of what the authentic teenage experience in our modern time looks like. “It deals with conflicts and challenges that teenagers face every day, and has positive messages of diversity,” Ms. DeRiu remarked.

With acceptance and inclusion being major themes in the show, casting is a key component to both bringing the musical to life and showcasing the level of talent and diversity amongst Choate’s student body. Some students have expressed their concerns over racial typecasting, meaning that some specific races might have an advantage over others simply because there are more characters who align with the specific race. Kathryn Phillips ’20, one of the students who auditioned for the musical, reflected, “I think the show has great music and is really fun, but it is a little disappointing that we need to have a show with designated roles for students of color. It is frustrating that there is an insecurity in the arts about diversity. We should have a show that gives truly talented actors the lead roles instead of separating roles into designated races in order to secure diversity within the cast.”

Medina Purefoy-Craig ’20, another student who auditioned for the musical, has a different take on the issue. She commented, “I think that a show like Bring It On is perfect to showcase the subtle struggles in our daily lives between different races. For example, the character Danielle is normally portrayed as black, but casting a person with a different race in her role shows that those two races are interchangeable. It is important to acknowledge that each race has their own struggles and stories. However, the world itself isn’t black and white. There are other races who could portray this character and her story well. I hope through putting on Bring It On we could start conversations about race and discrimination no matter who steps into the shoes of the characters.”

Ms. DeRiu made the choice to overlook the characters’ race in her casting.“The casting can be quite versatile and gives students opportunities to see themselves in the roles. I always hope to draw young people into the joy and magic of theatre, and help them find a home there, and when they can see themselves up on that stage in the characters that others have written, it helps them to identify and validate the issues they are facing as they navigate their young adulthood.” Although there are major discrepancies in the stories of all races, the human desire for acceptance and belonging remains universal.

In such divisive times when news and opinions can polarize the global population within seconds, it is important to leave art as a place of peace and as an intersection that allows people from all walks of life to build thought-provoking conversations through syntheses of collaboration and creativity. Ms. DeRiu gushed, “Now, more than ever, we need to use the arts to help make positive changes in the community — and, if we can do that through engaging and relevant content, then all the better.”

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