Reaching great heights
JAY James-Moody was working at a cinema as a teenager when the first Bring It
On film was released in 2000, which resulted in many viewings and developing crushes on the female leads.
Despite not having any cheerleading experience, it put the Sydney-based director on a good footing to tackle the challenge of WAAPA’s annual mid-year musical at Regal Theatre, Bring It On: The Musical.
“The musical tells a different story to the first film and is most closely aligned with the third movie in the series,” James-Moody said.
“There are a few little nods to the original film, but it’s essentially an original storyline set in the world of competitive cheerleading; it has the same comedy, heart and humour.
“The students had been through cheer boot camp and working on their stunts well before I signed on to do it.
“In the early stages of rehearsals there were a lot of cheer references I needed to get them to explain to me.”
James-Moody said the musical was written by some of the best contemporary Broadway composers, including Pulitzer Prize winners Lin-Manuel Miranda, most recently praised for Hamilton, and Tom Kitt, who wrote Next To Normal, performed in Perth last year by Black Swan State Theatre Company.
“The music is extraordinary and Melbourne choreographer Michael Ralph has done an amazing job with the cheer routines and stunts that my stomach drops every time I see them,” James Moody said. “I wouldn’t be brave enough to be thrown into the air, but it’s exhilarating to watch.”
The height required to achieve the choreography has meant taking rehearsals off the WAAPA campus to a Claremont Showground pavilion.
“We suddenly found out it’s not necessarily about the width and depth of the stage we need to rehearse on but the height,” James-Moody said.
“We were a bit nervous about throwing them up towards the ceiling.”
Music theatre students Hannah Burridge and Christina Odam are two of the more than 40-strong cast.
“They are all extraordinary but Hannah and Christina really stood out,” James-Moody said. “They were a great duo together as well because they’re kind of rivals in the show.
“It’s a huge, fun spectacle and I’m so excited about getting it in front of an audience.”
Christina Odam as Eva and Hannah Burridge as Campbell in WAPPA's Bring it On: The Musical.