Rebekah M. Allen’s musical about a loser squad of high school cheerleaders fighting their way up from the bottom of the heap sounds like it might be a satiric hoot. It isn’t.
Catapulting the cause of feminism back a good 70 years at least, We Are the Tigers takes place at a sleepover held at the home of Riley (Callandra Olivia), the team’s dedicated captain. Though the purpose of the get-together is to hone the girls’ cheerleading skills, the gathering soon backslides into catty squabbles between Riley and her competitor for leadership, the foxy Cairo (Jade Johnson), and between Farrah (Talisa Friedman), a surly girl who drinks heavily, and Chess (Cait Fairbanks), a former Olympics candidate whose career was cut short by an unfortunate accident.
The other backbiting altercations involve Annleigh (Rachel King), a Christian proselytizer whose sanctimoniousness annoys everyone, and Reese (Gabi Hankins), the team’s sturdy mascot, who longs to be upgraded to team player. And everyone whispers about Kate (Cailan Rose), who is rumored to be Chess’ lover.
None of these conflicts need be trivial in themselves, but they become so when framed by the collective cluelessness of this group of characters. The success of their cheerleading project is presented, without irony, as of paramount importance. The most egregious possible example of shrill mindless young women is offensively on display.
Under Michael Bello’s direction, the painfully extended first act picks up near the end, when homicides are committed and the silliness edges toward camp. There follows the marginally better second act, which features the show’s best number: a catchy and clever tune sung by Mattie (Charlotte Mary Wen), a newcomer to the team whom they’ve framed for murder. (Once she’s incarcerated, they forget about her, and it’s business as usual.}
Apart from this particular song, the music and score,(both by Allen, along with the book), are pretty forgettable, as is Jacob Brent’s choreography. Everyone can sing, however (vocal arrangements by musical director Patrick Sulken).
The talent is certainly there — Johnson, Fairbanks and Hankins were my favorites — but it’s hard to gauge its full measure in a thoughtless vehicle like this one.
Hudson Backstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood; through Nov. 8; (323) 960-7792, wearethetigersmusical.com.