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Spread a bit of Cheer: the top cheerleaders in musicals

With Bring It On celebrating its 20th anniversary, we take a look at cheerleaders in musicals

Bring It On

In January, the hit Netflix documentary Cheer tumbled onto our screens, and many of us became obsessed with the high-flying squad from Navarro College. Chronicling the ups and downs of a national competition, the series gave us an insight into this cross between a competitive sport and a full-scale performance.

2020 is also a big year for cheer as it's the 20th anniversary of the iconic film Bring It On, which spawned an entire series of cheer films across the noughties. The movie was even turned into a 2012 Broadway musical, and is coming to the UK later this year.

So, to celebrate, let's take a look at some of the top cheerleaders in musicals. Ready? Okay!

1. Sandy Dumbrowski and Patty Simcox from Grease

With all the car races and hand-jivin', many forget that Sandy is a part of Rydell High's cheerleading squad, headed up by cheesy do-gooder Patty Simcox. While in the film Sandy messes up her routine, the FOX live television production sees Julianne Hough show off some much more skilled routines:

2. Kathy, Mary and Joanne from Vanities

This little-known musical – which had its London premiere in 2016 – sees three school friends journey through life together. From being the popular cheerleaders in high school to their very different professional lives, the musical explores the trio's friendship through the years and how their lives affect each other.

3. Megan from But I'm a Cheerleader

Carrie Hope Fletcher appeared in the work-in-progress concert version
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Based on the satirical 90s film of the same name, the currently in-development musical sees cheerleader Megan shipped off to a rehabilitation camp to "cure" her into being straight. The musical was last seen as part of 2019's MT Fest starring Bronté Barbé and Carrie Hope Fletcher, and we hope it returns with a full production soon!

4. The entire cast of Bring It On

Bring It On

The 2012 Broadway musical featured a starry squad who would go on to star in Mean Girls, Tina: The Tina Turner Musical and the new West Side Story film. The show brought cheerleading to the stage, and included expert tumblers, stunters and flyers (thanks to Cheer for that terminology) alongside some killer vocals. We can't wait to see it in the UK later this year!

5. Peggy Sue from Peggy Sue Got Married

Ruthie Henshall
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Sadly this musical only lasted in the West End for two months, but it did win Ruthie Henshall her first Olivier Award for her star turn in the titular role. Based on the 80s film of the same name, the show sees Peggy Sue travel back in time to when she was 17, and though is in her teen body still has her adult mind and is able to change her young life decisions.

6. Heather McNamara from Heathers

Heathers the Musical
© Pamela Raith

Don't worry – we didn't forget the head cheerleader whose "Dad is loaded – he sells engagement rings". The yellow blazer-sporting member of the trio sadly doesn't get to show off her skills much in the show, as Westerburg's pep rally is interrupted by JD's attempt to blow up the school. Fun fact! The originating actor Elle McLemore has played two other cheerleaders from this list: Eva in Bring It On and Patty in Grease Live!