SPOTLIGHT

After cheering for football in middle school, high school and college, my sights were set on the National Football League - the ultimate destination for anyone seeking to cheer professionally. During my senior year of college, however, my life took an unexpected, yet exciting turn.

As a journalism major, I often read The New York Times and came across an intriguing article announcing open auditions for “Bring It On: The Musical,” a new musical comedy based on the popular film series about the colorful world of competitive high school cheerleading. I thought to myself, “At only five feet tall, I think I can pull off playing a high school cheerleader. Now, I just need to learn to act and sing!” A few voice lessons later, I found myself on a plane headed to the open call.

The creative team present at the audition included Hamilton creator and Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Hamilton choreographer and Tony Award Winner Andy Blankenbuehler for starters. The pianist in the room had recently won a Grammy and had orchestrated the hit, “Wicked.” To say I felt nervous and out of my comfort zone was an understatement! I thankfully made it through several rounds of dance, cheerleading, scene work and singing. I did not anticipate getting a call back, but three (long) months later, I did! After yet another round of auditions in front of the creative team, I got a call officially inviting me to join the cast of “Bring It On!” There was no guarantee of a Broadway run, but I was elated nonetheless.

We workshopped the show for producers in New York City and did our world premiere in Atlanta. I played a high school cheerleader for both of the rival high schools in the show, in addition to the role of the pessimistic “Goth Girl” who poked fun at the cheerleaders. Next, the show hit the road on a 12-city, North American tour. While in the final city of our 9-month tour, our producers had a very exciting announcement; we were headed to Broadway!

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“Bring It On: The Musical” opened at the St. James Theater and enjoyed a successful run, nabbing two Tony nominations, including Best Choreography and Best Musical. We even had the opportunity to perform at the Tony Awards at Radio City Musical Hall which was a dream come true. I loved the energy of the Broadway community and looked forward to performing for live audiences week after week. The quick costume and wig changes, the backstage antics, and the bond with my cast and crew are something I will never forget.

Broadway was quite a ride, but I knew I was not through performing. I had left my heart on the football field and was eager to get back to my roots, cheering for the sport I love. I was ready to trade in the dressing room for the locker room, intermission for half time, and a polite theater audience for a rowdy football crowd! The lessons I learned through musical theatre were invaluable and shaped the person I am today. Performing at that level taught me physical and mental toughness, discipline, commitment, teamwork, and time management, all skills a New England Patriots Cheerleader must possess. I could not be more thrilled to be back on the sidelines this season doing what I love with my teammates.

Cheers & Go Pats!

Courtney K.

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