Coon Rapids High School students will cheer for “Bring It On: The Musical,” which premieres at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 25, and runs through Saturday, May 4.
“‘Bring It On: The Musical’ is over-the-top fun, and audiences will love it,” Coon Rapids High School Theatre Director Karla Haij said.
“Bring It On: The Musical” is loosely based on the 2000 film “Bring It On,” written by Jessica Bendinger. Both the movie and the musical focus on the competitive world of cheerleading. Jeff Whitty wrote the musical’s book.
“Bring It On: the Musical” follows Campbell (Anika Besst) who is cheer-royalty at Truman High School. She’s just been named captain of the cheer squad, but an unexpected redistricting has forced her to spend her final year of high school at the neighboring hard-knock Jackson High School.
Despite having the deck stacked against her, Campbell befriends the dance crew girls Nautica (Yazzmine Zaccardi) and Alex Findley (LaCienega), along with their headstrong and hardworking leader, Danielle (Morgan Coffeen). Together they manage to form a powerhouse squad for the ultimate competition – the National Championships.
“Compared to the movie, ‘Bring It On: The Musical’ is more about inclusion than rivalry in the cheerleading world,” said Morgan Coffeen (Danielle).
“It’s about community,” added Anika Besst (Campbell).
The musical also stars Jerzi Herberg (Bridget), Treavaun Hampton (Twig), Isaac Lerum (Cameron), Jaren Cable (Randall), Kaitlyn Haupt (Kylar), Zoe Koep (Eva), Lana Payeur (Skylar) and Alexander Erchul (Steven).
The ensemble includes Merideth Foster, Cole Mitchell, Talon Palmer, Hailey Shager, Cami Sturm, Justine Vu, Sydney Water, Rebekah Weimholt, Amaiya Armstrong, Jewel Hadjian, Shania Johnson, Marissa Kavanaugh, Olivia Wies, Ethan Carson, Daniel Rupert, Danny Thompson, Chris Vang, Jayson Cable, Benjamin Jorgenson, Gabrielle Martinson, Evelyn Swanson, Madison Heins, Sarah Hilst, Winnifred Kpahn, Jennifer Martinez-Lara, Riley Peterson and Macey Tiedens.
Haij said “Bring It On: The Musical” was chosen to highlight the school’s diverse student body.
“Our student population is so diverse, and this is really the only show that we could come up with that features a diverse cast,” she said.
“Bring It On: the Musical” features 41 cast members, and 18 are students of color.
In addition, six of the women in the cast are competitive cheerleaders for Coon Rapids High School. Feb. 8-10, the team attended the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Florida.
Other cast members are also involved in concert choir, dance or are theater alumni.
“Everyone brings something to this musical,” Haij said. “They all have learned from each other and have overcome many obstacles to make this show work. They collaborated so well, and I think that is a great skill for kids to have.”
Alex Findley, who is a male cheerleader, said it has been exciting but challenging to play the transgender female cheerleader, LaCienega.
“I’ve never changed genders for a role, and it has been exciting developing the character,” Findley said.
This production is Findley’s first musical. He said he was cast in the role of LaCienega because he’s a cheerleader and everyone in the production was cast for a specific reason.
Findley said it has been challenging taking other elements from the musical like acting and singing.
“It has been challenging with everyone learning new things, and they’re learning it at different speeds,” he said. “It will though pay off in the end, and we’ll put on an incredible show.”
“Bring It On: The Musical” features hip-hop music written by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, with lyrics by Amanda Green and Miranda.
Besst commends the musical’s use of hip-hop and cheerleading together.
“This musical is so fresh and new,” Besst said. “Coon Rapids High School has never done something like this before.”
Coon Rapids High School is the first school in the state to perform the musical.
“It’s scary but exciting being the first high school to do this musical,” Coffeen said. “We are really setting the bar for all the other high schools who want to do it.”
For more information on “Bring It On: the Musical,” visit crhstheatre.com.