Reed Iacarella had never been in a play or show before he was cast in "Bring It On," the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tom Kitt and Amanda Green that opens Tuesday at the Ordway Center in St. Paul. In fact, he had never taken a theater class.
The 2007 Apple Valley High School graduate played football in college before becoming a cheerleader. That training set him up for the part in the popular musical, based on the 2000 film, about competitive cheerleading.
We talked with Iacarella about his trajectory from college cheerleader to cast member of a nationally touring musical:
"I was born in Minneapolis, the youngest of three boys. My mother, Cheryl Invie, is a sales rep with Medtronic. My father, James Iacarella, is a mortgage broker. My oldest brother, Taylor, works for Medtronic as an inventory analyst. My brother Collin, who lives in L.A., works for Medtronic as a sales rep. You could say Medtronic is my family.
"I played college football at Augustana for a year. I was an outside linebacker. I switched from playing football to cheering when I saw my brother on TV. He had made the switch, too, and was having so much fun. He traveled to bowl games. He was riling up 80,000 people in a stadium. And he was hanging out with nothing but pretty girls.
"I transferred to the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where I majored in economics. After college, I got my master's in business at Southwest Missouri State. Then I moved to Arizona, where my family has a home. I was trying to find a career, but the job market is really competitive now.
"Through cheerleading circles — it's a pretty tight-knit community — I found out about the tryouts for 'Bring It On.' I have a background in choir, which I thought would be helpful. So I auditioned in L.A. for my first show ever.
"And, lo and behold, I got it. I'm basically a swing. I'm responsible for covering three acts in the show. The main guys I cover are cheerleaders, something I know very well. They're doing basket tosses and stunting.
"When they first told me what I would be doing, I panicked a lot. I'm not a trained dancer, but I worked hard to learn. My training helps a lot. We come together as a cast to help each other out in the things that we're weakest at.
"I'm not on every night, but I get to be a part of the experience and I need to be ready at every moment.
"I'm very lucky and fortunate to be one-for-one with auditions. Lord knows that it's not the way it works.
"They previewed in January in New Haven and have been at it ever since. St. Paul is the last stop before we take a break, then go to Japan for the month of July.
"I have a decision to make about whether or not I go back to my so-called real life. I have two degrees. I have great experience.
"If someone had told me that I would've been a male cheerleader, I probably would've laughed at them, and said, 'I don't think so.' The same with the thought of being in a [national] musical. The fact that I did both is amazing and life-changing for me. I hope to continue to do it in the future. Some of my fellow actors say that I might be a good news anchor or something in film or entertainment. This is not going to be a onetime thing for me."