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5 Questions with Robin Levine, Director and Choreographer of NC Theatre Conservatory's "Bring it On: The Musical"
NC Theatre's Summer Theatre Arts School, one of the nation's leading summer theatre arts programs, gives young theatre students the opportunity to gain professional theatre experience. The students in the Master STAS program will be participating in a production of Bring it On: The Musical, running July 5-7 at William Peace University.
The production is directed and choreographed by Robin Levine, whose credits include The Last Five Years, Freewheelers (A World Premiere), Annie, The Who's Tommy, 42ND Street, Rock of Ages, Mad Libs Live! (World Premiere), Bells are Ringing, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, among others. Levine is also the Associate Director/Choreographer on Tim Rice's new musical, From here to Eternity.
We were lucky enough to grab a few minutes to chat with Robin and ask her five questions about the upcoming production.
Was your directing influenced by the 2000 film of the same name?
Since everyone seems to know and love the film, starring Kirsten Dunst, we just had to ask Robin if it influenced and/or inspired her. She told us that, "I have seen the movie and, in that sense, I was definitely influenced by the film."
She explains how the musical is based on the movie but follows a different plot line. Robin says that, "The audience will absolutely get all the characters and cheerleading stunts they are expecting from the title, as well as the same themes of growth and acceptance that they remember from the movie, but with new twists that re-open the story line and allow the audience to find a new lens and new elements in which to enjoy our version of this tale."
Can we expect to see real cheerleading on stage?
Fans who live for the thrill of seeing splits, pyramids, and stunts will be relieved at Robin's answer to this one. She says, "You can absolutely expect real cheering on stage!"
Robin explains how her cast had "virtually no prior cheer experience" but "work[ed] with fantastic cheer coaches from Rockstar Cheer & Dance in Holly Springs." Thanks to their help and guidance Robin says, "We will be performing many pyramids and cheer lifts."
She also explains that, "We have a few performers with tumbling experience, so the show will give you all the cheerleading excitement you hope to see- but also with ALL the super human feats of musical theatre happening at the same time. Instead of triple threats, we really have a cast of quadruple threats!"
What was the most difficult part of directing the show...and the most satisfying?
While the show definitely sounds fun and exciting, no theatrical venture is without its difficulties. Robin explains that, "Directing a large musical such as Bring it On is always a challenge, as there are so many moving pieces to coordinate and consider." She goes on to say that, "Adding the cheer element into the mix was daunting to me in the beginning, as I have zero cheer experience. Fortunately, the professionals from Rockstar Cheer & Dance were incredible at working with our cast of new cheerleaders, so my fears wound up being unfounded."
Moving past the challenges, after obviously having met them head-on, Robin also talked about the most satisfying element of directing the show, which she says is "this cast." She explains that, "This is the first time that I am staging a show for pre-professionals, and I was a little nervous about that." She said she wondered "What would their skill level, discipline, and understanding of the specificity needed for this type of work be?" But, she continues, "To my beautiful surprise, these kids are incredible. They are in the learning and training phase of their lives, but I can also say firmly that, without a doubt, North Carolina Theatre Conservatory is training Broadway's next generation."
Were most of the young performers familiar with the film?
Going back to the movie that inspired it all, we just had to know if today's youth love the film as much as part generations.
It turns out that, according to Robin, "about 50% of them were familiar with the film." She says that, "I think some of our cast is just too young for it to have been on their radar."
However, they're all definitely familiar (and then some!) now. Robin says, "I made it required watching prior to rehearsals starting."
What are you most excited for audiences to see?
Finally, we just had to know, with such a thrilling show about to debut, what Robin most wants us all to see.
She says, "I am most excited for the audiences to see these amazing performers and what we have created!"
Robin also tells us that, "We are performing this show in one of the gymnasiums at William Peace University (Hermann Athletic Center). We are bringing the entire show into that space for a more immersive, environmental feel. Our audience will be in three quarter thrust seating that will be comfy bleacher type seating, making our audience feel as if they are at a real cheerleading competition."
We can't wait to get taken back to high school, at least in feeling, for this one! If you feel the same way, there's still time to buy tickets and cheer on- pun intended- Robin, these young performers, and the production they have worked so hard to create.
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