Theater Camp

Director: Molly Gordon, Nathan Lieberman
Starring: Ben Platt, Molly Gordon, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Caroline Aaron, Ayo Edebiri, Amy Sedaris, Kyndra Sanchez, Alan Kim.
Distributor: Searchlight/Disney
Runtime: 92 mins. Reviewed in Sep 2023
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Coarse language

A summer camp for youngsters in upper New York state to develop their theatre skills.

It will depend on your sense of humour if you enjoy this story of a summer camp for youngsters interested in performance. And it may also depend on the national sense of humour. Most of the comments coming from the US find the film hilarious. Though not all. For non-Americans, it might be amusing in many ways, but hilarious?

As the title suggests, this is one of those American summer camp stories. Except this is a camp where aspiring youngsters go to an upstate New York site in the Adirondacks (AdirondACTS) to develop their talents, acting, singing, mime, technical know-how for putting on a show. And, it can be noted from the title that there is also an emphasis on the other meaning of camp.

Audiences who have enjoyed the different versions of Fame, who enjoy television’s Glee, will probably be keen to see this film. And they will enjoy the theatrical references, the quotes from the musicals – and many favourable commentators noting that the film is for “theatre nerds”.

The actual camp struggles to survive, the founder campaigning to raise funds, then suffering a stroke from the strobe lights of a performance of camp Bye, Bye Birdie, in coma. Her rather boofhead son has to take over the running of the camp, tone deaf to most things, fancying himself as an entrepreneur (his name is Troy so he is an entroypreneur), being tempted to sell out to the upmarket similar camp adjacent.

The film spends more time bringing the staff characters to life. There’s a couple of who have taught singing and put on the annual musical for 13 years, Amos Klobuchar and Rebecca-Diane (Platt and Gordon) and the tech man Glenn Winthrop (Galvin) who, at a pinch, can improvise quite a dance sequence and, surprisingly, is very effective at female impersonation for the crisis in the annual show. There are various other assorted members of staff, teachers, costume design, and a fake intruder.

Much less attention is given to the characterisation of the students. So, lots of theatre references for those in the know, quite a number of farcical situations and conflicts, a climax, of course, with the final show, amusing in its way.

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