Theater Camp

Theater Camp
Theater Camp
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The mockumentary format is now perfected after many iterations of its use (This Is Spinal Tap, The Office, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) and still reigns supreme on our screens today (What We Do In The Shadows, Abbott Elementary, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On). Theatre Camp does a brilliant job of employing the formula for new heartfelt comedy – showing how summer drama retreats for theatre kids both young and old can be a powerful thing while also making fun of them.

Amy Sedaris plays Joan Rubinsky who runs AdirondACTS, the titular camp. During one such jazzy seizure she has whilst looking to identify new talents, his unfortunate son Troy (Jimmy Tatro) takes over as it’s about to be closed down. Normal opening of the camp still happens with strange students returning with an exceptional group of teachers inclusive of Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon), the Head Of Music Theory and her long-standing friend from childhood yet theatrical collaborator Amos (Ben Platt).

What Rebecca-Diane and Amos do every year is putting on an original production — this time Joan, Still a genre-jumping homage to their comatose camp director. The duo are obviously funny in the characteristic manner typical for theater nuts; some moments include playing in harmony when they announce the summer’s performances; their malice at auditions for children; or stopping a boy using a tear stick whether he wants to become “the Lance Armstrong of acting”.

They keep coming thick and fast—every 20 seconds or so. A lot is packed into this movie thanks to single lines that make you laugh every now and then said besides by some amazing child actors and adults that are dryly comic have stood out throughout the film. A film as noisy as backstage before curtain up with occasional slow moment when it seems like they forgot that there were supposed to be following documentary conventions.

However it’s during the final number that you will be wowed. As much as this is a rollicking ribbing of the very specific kind of theatre-camp dynamic, it’s also an ode to their value as sanctuaries for people who maybe feel like they don’t fit in anywhere else. Kids of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds are shown being themselves, and really fighting while putting on a great show. At the same time, Rebecca-Diane and Amos from summer camp are able to deal with performing as well as what performance means to them without allowing each other lose creativity; wherefore young children must be programmed not to become actors who can cry on cue just because they used some oil.

It’s the closing song that will take your breath away. While this is partly a satirical assessment of theater camps, it is also about how these places act as havens for those individuals who might never have found their place elsewhere in life. In Theater Camp there are kids with various body types engaged in self-expression through art after which do a badass performance on stage unlike Rebeca-Dianne or Amos – theatre kids from way back – that need to learn what acting means for both of them and how they can support one another but still grow individually even when participating in drama club. But isn’t camp home? No? Yes? Yeah, okay — Theater Camp actually confirms so.

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