The University of Edinburgh’s Footlights are here to brighten up your evenings with their performance of the hit Broadway musical Bring It On.
Based on films from the noughties, it follows Campbell (Lucy McClure) who has everything she has always dreamed of- the perfect boyfriend, the perfect cheerleading squad, and the perfect title to start her senior year off with – Cheer Captain. Yet, two weeks before school starts back, she is unexpectedly reassigned to Jackson, an inner-city high-school where she feels completely out of her depth – not least because they don’t have a cheerleading squad! Determined to still make it to Nationals, she befriends Danielle (Mokkie Tebelia) the headstrong and hardworking leader of the school’s dance crew.
Cheerleading is an essential part of the show from its very overture. In our interview, director Amy Stinton had said no one in the cast had any cheerleading experience prior to the show. Whilst the moves were never complicated, they were always well executed and the high-energy of the opening number set the tone for the rest of the show. Bridget, the nerdy misfit played by Gemima Iseka-Bekano, is introduced and is a scene stealer as the team’s parrot mascot. Throughout the show her performance is hilarious.
When we move from Trueman to Jackson it is not just a change, but a complete juxtaposition. Gone of course are the cheerleaders in their neat as pins uniforms, replaced by a fun array of y2k fashion – but also gone is the traditional musical style, replaced by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s trademark hip-hop style songs. I must commend the choreographers Emily Bealer and Rose Roberts for their work in making the two schools look so unique. Tebeila did a brilliant job of leading the dancing and I must also praise her vocals, which were nothing short of incredible.
I did think that the ensemble numbers for Jackson could have been tighter, especially as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music is made for stark dramatic movement on the beats. Spotlighting was overused and there were also some minor issues with sound, but none that seriously detracted from the quality of the show.
Tebeila had stated Killer Instinct as her favourite number, and I have to agree it was particularly well performed. Maria McStay as our snake-in-the-grass villain Eva was clearly chosen for her powerful vocals in one of the show’s most popular songs.
The crux of the whole show was of course Nationals. Even with their limited cheerleading experience, Footlights succeeded in creating two cheerleading sequences that were characteristic of each school and a lot of fun to watch.
Footlights deserved every cheer it got. Leading actresses Mokkie Tebelia and Lucy McClure took their bows together, which felt very fitting for a musical centring on female friendship.
Images photographed by Lou Collins provided via press release.