Taylor Louderman | Small-Town Girl Hits the Big Time

BIO sqOh, it’s exhausting. On my days off, I just lay in bed all day. I try to go to the gym, but it makes me crazy. But it is a lot of fun.

BIO taylor 

I had the chance to talk to Taylor Louderman, a native of Bourbon, Mo., who will be playing the lead, Campbell, in Bring It On coming to the Fox March 27. The show has an impeccable pedigree and the hope is that it will go to Broadway after this tour, a reversal of the usual process. But bookers around the country were willing to take a chance on a show with this one’s grooming, even though it hadn’t yet played New York. Besides the fact that it is based on a hit movie that spawned a series about the cutthroat world of high school cheerleaders, its creative team is stellar. The group includes Tony Award-winning writer Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q); Tony Award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (In the Heights); Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning composer Tom Kitt (Next to Normal) and lyricist Amanda Green (High Fidelity); Tony Award-winning orchestrator Alex Lacamoire (In the Heights); and Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (In the Heights).

Just 21, this is Louderman’s first major professional role, so we talked about starting at the top, but also a good number of other things on the way to that big break.

What’s your educational background?

I grew up in a town where the cattle population exceeds the human population, but I went to two high schools. I started at Bourbon High School then transferred after 10th grade to Sullivan. I graduated from there and started the program in musical theater at the University of Michigan. It’s [one of the] highest-ranked programs in the country, and it was a connection from there that hooked me up with the contact to audition for Bring It On. I left at the end of my sophomore year (last year) to pursue this opportunity. The school is great. Everybody loves what they do and they encourage a family environment. I loved it there and I miss it.

So this is your first professional role?

My first lead, but I was in shows throughout high school, and of course in college. I was in Muny Teens and worked in the ensemble there for Legally Blonde last season. I had another part coming up at the Muny in the ensemble of Bye, Bye Birdie, but I left for this show.

Did you always want to do what you’re doing?

Yeah. When I was 10, I played Annie at a small theatre in Rolla, Missouri [Ozark Actor’s Studio, now under the Artistic Director of St. Louis actor-director, Jason Cannon]. I guess at first it was just a hobby, but I quickly realized I loved it, I was good at it, and it was the right decision.

Did you have private lessons as a child in voice and dance?

Not dance so much since there weren’t any studios nearby, but my mom drove me to St. Louis for singing lessons. I really enjoy singing more anyway, and I did some shows in community theatre when she had to drive me in also. When I was old enough to drive, I did a show at CBC High School, so my day was get up, go to school and soccer practice, get in the car, go to rehearsal or performance, come home, go to bed, and start it all over again the next day.

I’ve seen the movie Bring It On an embarrassing number of times, but just the original one. You’re playing the Kirsten Dunst part (now called “Campbell,” who is the lead). Tell me about the musical version.

It’s quite a lot different [from the movie]. In our version, Campbell is still the captain of the cheering squad and she’s got her boyfriend and she’s happy with her life, but then suddenly she has to transfer to a school that doesn’t even have a squad at all. She has trouble with the change, which I can identify with because I changed schools in the middle of high school, too, and it’s hard. I wasn’t a cheerleader but I was a soccer player, so I had to leave my team and my friends like she does. Of course, we also have music and dancing in the mix. One of the movies does have a transfer plotline, but as far as making a musical from a movie, it doesn’t follow the pattern you’ve seen from others. And it’s just different when you tell a story through song and dance.

Tell me more about Campbell and how you develop her as a character.

Campbell is very strong. She’s smart and works very hard her whole life. Winning Nationals means everything to her, then that dream is crushed when she moves to this inner city school without a squad. So, immediately, she starts to create one out of their dance crew, and eventually she convinces them, and they go to Nationals and compete against her own school. She learns some things along the way, but I think she’s pretty mature for a high-schooler, even though she does lie a little along the way. You’ll see. [Laughs] When I switched schools myself, I got more serious about musical theater as a career, and started pushing myself. Campbell is a lot like me; well, actually, most of us are like our characters and vice versa.

So, aside from college, you’ve just learned by doing it?

Yeah, I’ve had to. The dance captains always work us really hard and I picked up a lot during my summers at the Muny. You know, that’s the best place to be if you’re going to do summer stock. I took some lessons from Lara Teeter [now teaching at Webster University in the Conservatory] and he helped me out a lot. When I was at college, I had some movement training and dance every day, and this show has really whipped me into shape.

How exhausting is the show to do?

Oh, it’s exhausting. On my days off, I just lay in bed all day. I try to go to the gym, but it makes me crazy. But it is a lot of fun.

How do you manage a two-show day?

[Laughs] I take a nap in between and drink a lot of coffee! It’s hard.

Where are you in the tour now?

We’re seven or eight cities in. We’re in Chicago now, and next we’ll be in St. Louis.

How long do you plan to stay with the show?

We have contracts for a year but we only have cities until the end of May, I think. So, after that, we’re not really sure. Hopefully we’ll take it to Broadway, but we don’t know yet. A couple of weeks ago, the team came in and made some changes, so we’re encouraged that they’re still working on it and that’s not typical for a touring show. Most shows do an out-of-town tryout, but a touring show moving to New York is unusual.

What do you do on the road? Tell me about “a day in the life.”

Since the show runs at night, it’s hard to wind down, so I sleep in. Then if there’s good shopping around, I like to do that. We like to get brunches because we can’t eat a lot before the show, so my big meal is breakfast or lunch. We find good places to do that in the cities we’re in. I’m going to do that right after this [interview]. But I do rest quite a bit—sleep, watch HULU, read, talk with my friends.

Do you sightsee?

Oh, of course. In Chicago, I’ve gotten to Second City, Millennium Park, the Navy Pier, and the Magnificent Mile for the shopping. I can’t wait to show everybody around St. Louis. We’re definitely going to hit the City Museum.

There’s more to do around here than I think most people understand. There’s also a vibrant theater scene outside the Muny and the Fox.

Oh, there definitely is. And I don’t think I understood that until I got out. The younger generation doesn’t know how much we have.

Are you homesick? Is there anything you don’t like about the road?

Living out of a suitcase. [Laughs] I’m not homesick. I love home and I try to come back as often as I can, but I’d already been away for two years at school, so I got a taste of it. But being in airports constantly hoping and praying that your bag will come out [with the checked luggage] is a pain. But it’s really great to explore new cities and have different audiences.

What’s the best part of the show for you?

Good question. I think for this show it’s the cheerleading. I never got to do that and I didn’t think I ever would. I get to use my singing and dancing, of course, but at the end of the night, everyone is in such awe at the cheerleading stunts we do. It adds another layer. Of course, I don’t do really crazy hard stuff like some of the others, but I have learned another skill. I get to be proud of myself every night for conquering it.

Does anything about it scare you?

Not anymore. The first week, I was terrified. I’m only occasionally nervous when the swings are catching so I keep thinking about the end of Act I, but even that’s not a big deal. Everyone in the company is very good, and no one is going to drop me. I just want it to look as good as it can.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about yourself and Bring It On?

I want everyone to know that I love my home city and that I love and care about what I’ve been working toward my whole life. Truly, the show is different from what people expect. I see the dads and the grandpas after the show and they tell me they had a good time, so it’s not just a “girls’ show.” It follows a plotline, just like Wicked or Avenue Q. It has its quiet moments—its ballads, its ups and downs. I really encourage everyone to give it a shot.

Well, I’ll see you on March 27. I would say “Break a leg,” but considering your part, I won’t.

Thanks! [Laughs] | Andrea Braun

Bring It On plays at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis March 27 through April 8. For more information, visit the Fox’s website.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply