In a theater establishment, the incredibly entertaining mockumentary set, actors feel their characters in their bones.
Theater Camp Movie Review
“Acting,” according to Tony-winning Ben Platt’s character, “is about remembering and choosing to forget.” The “Theater Camp,” a comical satire about growing up in Gershwin, both embraces and pokes fun at it. Platt co-wrote it with his longtime friends, Molly Gordon (friend since childhood), Nik Liberman (friend since high school), and their director, Noah Galvin, who, like Platt, played a leading role in Broadway’s “Dear Evan Hansen.” (Gordon and Liberman also directed the film.) These former young artists remember it all: the failed auditions, the rejected whimsy, and the deep anxiety that success on stage is as fragile as spray-painted cardboard stars. But the four of them, who have become camp counselors – presenting what they know, exaggerated and amplified – have endured the blow, disregarded its impact, and now inflict it on others. Let’s call it the summertime Stockholm syndrome. And their group therapy session is a treatment for it. ”Theater Camp”
Our setting is a theater institution called Edrondacity, as written in a sticky crayon font. Amos (Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Gordon) met here as kids, and even decades later, the place haunts them, treating them like celebrities. Broadway hasn’t taken note. Still, every summer, Amos and Rebecca-Diane channel their knowledge into malleable minds.
”Theater Camp” The level of maturity among the ambitious young campers is almost on par with adults. They are showcased by fantastic talents like Luke Islam, Ellen Kim, and Bailey Bonik, some of whom can maintain a high level well beyond the life span of a mosquito. Yet, the children know that their roles require them to deflect their instructors’ enthusiastic words (“Peter Piper picked a principle”), threats (“It’ll break you”), and dubious opinions (“I think of her as a French whore”) with obedient self-deprecation. Amos fusses like a 10-year-old.
The film ”Theater Camp” hints at the specter of failure, carefully overlooked. Here, a cruise ship callback and a repertoire show in Saratoga Springs represent the pinnacle of achieved success. The big shots, including costume gigi (played by Owen Thiele) and choreographer Clive (played by Nathan Lee Graham), are displeased with any challenge to their artistic authority. “Why are you allergic to polyester?” inquires Gigi after reading about your allergy. Later, when the story threatens to veer into that worn-out tale – we’ll have to put on a show to save the school! – it’s a relief to know that most characters can’t be bothered by that clichéd plot point. They’re inventive, babe. It’s for people like Troy (played by Jimmy Tatro), the son of a venture capitalist who claims to be an “entre-Troy-neur,” a YouTube financial guru.
Gordon and Liberman lightly nod to the mockumentary format. In the opening minutes, dry intertitles appear so frequently in the action that you expect them to claim this is the best video yet from Beyoncé. Soon after, the editing becomes loose, the doctor’s charade deviates, and the film morphs into a series of bitter-sweet Vaudeville sketches, where the punchline stings like s”alt.
Theater Camp” It seems like there was a significant portion of the story left out, similar to other formulaic movies. A delayed resolution hinges on a character who’s barely been registered. Ayo Edebiri (known from the TV series “The Bear“) emerges as a teacher, initially with a false jogging and exercise experience – a hopeful lie, but left hanging on the sidelines, not sharing any difficult scenes with the rest of the cast. In one scene, Galvin, in a charming stagehand role, exits for cafeteria rounds. Two o’clock. The scene stops. The film wants to cover a lot.
It’s evident that actors feel their characters in their bones. My favorite physical detail was when Platt’s Amos sabotaged a bad rehearsal by leaping offstage in a showy somersault, much like Kermit did with an old glittering cane. It’s so magical that later, within the show, they save that stumbling act when the kids invest every ounce of mockery in Rebecca-Diane’s cheeky songs. Gusto can turn anything to gold.
Theater Camp IMDb Rating: 7.4/10