Let's Hear It for the Girl


By Jerry Portwood

With 'Bring It On: The Musical,' Broadway has its best trans character ever. Actor Gregory Haney explains how La Cienaga got to where she is now.

It seems that there’s a whole cheer community that is coming out. Are they ever confused by the show or have questions?

It’s funny, we had the National Champion cheer team come out. We saw them before the show, and they asked a lot of questions, about tumbling passes and, are you doing flips in the air? I told them, “I think that you’re going to be very surprised about the technical aspects. We have a cheer coordinator who has worked with Andy non-stop in finding a voice for the show. Some of the tricks that you want to see are at a collegiate level, so we can’t do those. But the cheerleaders that come to this show have all been really impressed.

But it’s tough stuff to do eight times a week. I think, watching it, you keep thinking someone is gonna get hurt. Are there injuries?

With every show there’s little injuries here and there. We’ve been conscious of the difficulty level of the show, and we have a physical therapist in-house. She’s always there. In Memphis, we did a fight call before each show; in this show, we do a cheer call, and we run through all the stunts that happen. If we don’t hit it, then we go to Plan B.

With all of this touring and work, what about your personal life?

This is all I have time for. I try to keep a distinction between my craft and what I’m doing on stage. I don’t want it to influence what I do. All I have time for at the moment. I have a dog I rescued in San Francisco. A Jack Russell. When I was with the Wicked [touring] company.

So he goes everywhere with you when you travel with shows?

Yes. He’s a road dog.

But if you were going to date, would it be a guy?

I’m not going to answer that.

OK, no problem. I understand. Well, you mentioned Angel earlier, and I was wondering, were there any favorite musicals growing up or any shows that inspired you?

I was a football player for 11 years growing up. Then I got bit by the entertainment bug.The one show I can remember was Fame was touring through Arizona. I told my dad, “This is what I want to do.” He said: “I can see this; I can see that.” That was the jump off for it all. I had done shows before. I had done musical theater, and I had done sports. But I was a junior in high school, and I knew, This is what I want to do.

Knowing it was a touring company and traveling to all these different places each week was mind blowing. When I decided to go to school for musical theater, I had to figure out my angle in all of this. I knew I wanted to express myself that way. I knew I wanted the musical theater aspect of it. You don’t know what’s going on in New York because you’re not privy to it yet. It was being in musical theater, and I knew, I want to sing and dance and that type of thing. But then, coming to New York, seeing Wicked. She was singing her face off, and, clearly I wanted to do this.

So that was your moment, but it’s a lot of work to get to this point. Anything you tell people looking to do the same thing?

I twach as well, and I’ve had a lot of conversations with dancers. I think it’s exciting right now. You think you’re locked into this box. But where art is and where it’s growing to, there is no box. If you want to be a contemporary dancer, be a contemporary dancer, but if you have the drive to sing and act, you can do that too. I never thought I could do hip-hop again. Now I’m doing that and some double turns. I get to be funny and live my life. I love that, nowadays, there are so many resources out there. We have So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol streaming into the homes of America. These kids who think they are gonna be stuck they are seeing these things. They are making the choice. 


Bring It On: The Musical opens Aug. 1 at the St. James Theatre

Check out this video where Haney gives a tour of his dressing room, explaining his costumes, makeup, and more.