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Alexandria City High School in Alexandria, Virginia, presented Bring It On to the Cappies Critics on April 12, 2024. Here are the top two Cappies Critic reviews.

Kira Gilligan

Robinson Secondary School


A lively drumline parades through the theater aisles, while onstage, cheerleaders shake their pom-poms to the music. Alexandria City High School’s production of “Bring It On!” built on the energy of this pre-show announcement, constantly cheering itself on.


Tom Kitt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Amanda Green, and Jeff Whitty’s “Bring It On!” is a musical based on the 2000 film of the same name that found success on Broadway in 2012. The story follows Campbell, who is suddenly redistricted to Jackson High School just as she achieves her dream as the Truman High cheerleading captain. At Jackson, she forms a cheerleading squad of her own to give their dancers recognition and to get revenge on the Truman girl she believes stole her spot.


Leading the squad is Campbell, played by Maria McLemore. Lighting up the stage while pumping her poms, McLemore was the quintessential optimistic, yet high-strung, cheerleader right down to her posture. In “One Perfect Moment,” McLemore showcased her sweet, clear voice with nerves bubbling up to the surface. When her anxieties hit the brink, McLemore let out a belt to rally her character. Her mean girl side emerged in “Something Isn’t Right Here,” as McLemore's sweet voice started to drip with accusation. 


Jackson’s dance crew was dynamic in motion and personality. They were the perfect trio, each character unique, but able to unite with a snap. Lilac Haynesworth commanded Campbell and the other Jackson students as Danielle with a single side eye. When it came to more vulnerable scenes, Haynesworth shared a different side, with a quiver in her voice and a stomp as she turned a cold shoulder on her friend. Jayden Benitez seemed like she was always having fun as Nautica, doing signature dances whenever she made a point. Benitez was perfectly ditzy, supportive, and well-meaning, bouncing off her friend La Ciénaga (Ariana Singleton) who was perky, pouty, and shamelessly sassy. Singleton gave 110% energy to each dance number, standing out in “Do Your Own Thing” before her character was even introduced.


While the actors brought their characters to life, the props team (Miles Soares, Alexis Morrison) brought the world around them to life. Each prop was incredibly detailed and created with actor useability in mind. The backpacks were filled with notebooks and papers to make them look realistic and to make acting and dancing with them easier. Each locker was uniquely decorated, and each phone prop was made by hand out of foam. The team brought both quality and quantity to their props, supplying 74 pom-poms and 11 phone cases.


The stage manager (KD Bectel) and student director (Yahney-Marie Sangare) helped create the show from the ground up. Bectel had been dedicated to the production since August, studying the script and creating lists for technicians. They managed 80 cast and crew members through each rehearsal and performance with a comprehensive calendar, rehearsal reports, and a production Canvas page, in addition to cueing each show. While Bectel managed the flow of the production, Sangare helped orchestrate how each group performed. With a background in cheer, Sangare created and helped the actors with stunts and led cheer workshops during the audition process. She also blocked each straight-acted scene and worked closely with actors on their characters.


In a show about doing what you love and loving what you do, an obvious amount of love, energy, and detail shone through in Alexandria City High School’s production of “Bring It On!”

Jack Larmoyeux

Robinson Secondary School


“You’re either flying or falling.” In Alexandria City’s production of Bring It On, no truer words have been spoken, as whether you're on the cheer squad or in the high school halls, you’re either on top or hitting the ground hard.


Bring It On, a Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda collaboration that premiered on Broadway in 2012, follows Campbell as she becomes cheer squad captain at Truman High School and prepares to lead the team to another national championship. However, thanks to the underhanded tactics of cheer newcomer Eva, Campbell is redistricted to Jackson, a school that doesn’t even have a cheer squad. They do have a dance crew, led by Danielle, and Campbell’s dream of winning nationals is back on when she convinces the crew to create a cheer team and go after Eva and Truman.


The choreography of Bring It On was daunting, as the cheerleading routines had to mesh with the traditional dance that made up most of the show. Despite this, the cast and ensemble stepped up to the plate with verve, delivering energetic song-and-dance numbers and natural cheer motions that flowed into a near-flawless performance.


Campbell, played by Maria McLemore, made her presence known all night, from holding her own vocally in her solo numbers to exuding confidence and leadership when she and Eva came face-to-face in the climax. Danielle, played by Lilac Haynesworth, would hit hard with her heart-wrenching dramatic acting and stylistic dance moves, and the two women would shine together in “We’re Not Done,” showcasing their strengths and on-stage cohesiveness.


Maya Gleaton’s performance of cheer outsider turned crew insider Bridget was an energetic ride, as she portrayed the growth in the character’s self-esteem with heart-warming awkwardness and exceptional comedic timing. Jayden Benitez and Ariana Singleton, playing Danielle’s friends Nautica and La Ciénega respectively, brought a dynamic set of dance moves and a professional level of chemistry between the three that grabbed hold of the stage every chance they could.


Alexandria City’s lighting team, led by Jesse Jones, brought meaning to each scene with their use of color to portray characters and places, from the green of Jackson High to Eva’s red palette as she takes over Truman Cheer to the reflective blue that shined straight through Campbell in her most emotional moments. Hannah Burkhardt’s projection team emphasized the work of their fellow crews, as their dual projectors creatively built the background of each scene, even including a burst of comedic timing when showing the school district lines that sent Campbell to Jackson.


All in all, Alexandria City’s production of Bring It On reminds us that, whether we’re first or last, it’s best to do your own thing and enjoy the trip. After all, you might not be on top, but at least you’re not alone


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