Culture Theatre

An Interview with Bring It On

The Edinburgh Footlights is putting on a production of the hit Broadway musical Bring It On from the 14th to the 18th of February. Ahead of show week, Alexa Sambrook sat down with the director of the show, Amy Stinton, and Mokkie Tabelia who plays Danielle.

How is Footlights different to other theatre societies at Edinburgh? What drew you to it?

M- I had heard of the sense of community that Footlights specifically has. I felt it immediately, from the first rehearsal. Everyone has a common goal, everyone is extremely talented, everyone is very determined. There’s just a great sense of community.

A- It really is a big family. All of my friends were made through the shows. It’s lovely to see people that were in the cast together last year who are now best friends.

M- Being a first-year student from South Africa, I was so nervous not knowing anyone, but being part of the cast has given me a sense a belonging that I wouldn’t have found anywhere else. You are just able to be yourself.

What is Bring It On all about for those who haven’t heard of it?

A- It is inspired by the early 2000s Bring It On movies, but it is not specifically based on one of the films. It follows the protagonist Campbell Davies who is from a well-off high school, she is cheer captain, she’s got a lovely boyfriend and her dream has always been to win cheerleading nationals. She gets redistricted to another high school, an inner city one which doesn’t have a cheerleading squad, but they do have a dance crew. It’s about Campbell trying to find a sense of belonging in this new environment. The heart of it is friendship between Danielle and Campbell. The media is saturated with love stories, but at the core of Bring It On is female friendship which we don’t see enough stories about.

Do you have a favourite musical number in the show?

M- It’s one that I’m not a part of but – Killer Instinct. Oh my gosh, it’s just amazing, the harmonies, the work from the band. It’s got this very jazzy, Broadway-type feel.

A- That number is a bit left-field, the choreography is very traditional compared to the rest of the show.

What’s the music like in the rest of the show then?

A- It’s all about the differences between Trueman and Jackson high school. Of the composers Tom Kitt writes more traditional musical theatre, whereas Lin Manuel-Miranda does a lot of hip-hop music and rapping. This is also reflected in the choreography which we’ve worked hard on to develop unique styles for each high school.

Mokki, you’re playing one of the leads Danielle, how would you describe her?

M- Danielle is very hard-headed, she has her eyes set on the goal to escape her circumstances and go to college. She’s not from a well-off background and she must work for everything she wants. She’s got a job at a restaurant and when she’s not at the restaurant, she’s studying, and when she’s not studying, she’s with her dance crew. You could say she’s very selfish at the start, but you see the development as she becomes invested in Campbell and her friends.

What was the audition process like for the part?

M- The first leg was submitting a self-tape- a monologue and two musical items. The monologue part was manageable, but it was difficult watching back the musical items! The second leg was in-person, and I preferred it over the self-tapes. I sang and then there was acting with everyone else. The accents were a challenge as they’re supposed to be American!

Is your accent up to scratch?

M- Amy is it?

A- Oh yeah! Our choreographer is from Maryland, so she’s been helping a lot with the accents. She said yours is one of the stronger ones!

Amy, what has been the biggest challenge in directing Bring It On?

A- The cheerleading aspect has been interesting, simply because no one on the team who had a background in it. We’ve worked with so many societies for example trampolining that gave us mats to use in rehearsals and show. We reached out to the Vixens [UoE’s cheerleading club] who came in and gave cheer coaching. They taught us how to do the lifts safely and we had a big chat about what makes a big cheer number. It was so good to pick their brains. We ain’t no cheerleaders!

Does the cheerleading look authentic ?

A- Compared to national’s level cheerleading, it’s not the same standard. Vixens said there was no way we would be throwing people in the air, it also just requires more men which we don’t have. The stunts do look good though. It’s been lovely watching them but it’s also a bonding moment. You have to learn to trust each other as you are catching each other.

Any final remarks?

M- I want to point out how collaboration has been so fundamental to everything coming together – from trampolining and vixens helping us out to choreographers catering to our abilities. You have to really know everyone around you to do that and they got the best out of everyone. Collaboration is huge.

A- I’m super, super proud of everybody. We were watching rehearsal videos from the start of the year, everyone was laughing, but it was really nice to see how far the production has come. It’s going to be great, everyone has worked so unbelievably hard, and I am really excited.

Edinburgh University Footlights Presents “Bring It On” from 14th – 18th February 2023 at Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh. Tickets from £10.

Image ‘Bring It On Banner’ provided via Press Release from Edinburgh University Footlights

By Alexa Sambrook

Alexa Sambrook is a fourth year French and German student and the secretary of The Student. After joining The Student at the start of Semester 2 of her first year, she wrote for the Features and TV and Film section. She was made TV and Film editor in May 2020 and held the position for 14 months before her year abroad. She is passionate about building community in the newspaper.