Ah yes, musical theater. Whether you love it, hate it, or honestly don’t really get it, there’s truly nothing like a group of people coming together to tell a story in one go, in front of a live audience. New indie darling THEATER CAMP is a clever satirical comedy and love letter to the dazzling freedom that theater can give artists and entertainers in preparation for debuting a stage production, and how it’s simultaneously a tight-knit community and an artform anyone can find themselves being cast under the spell of. Following THEATER CAMP enrapturing viewers during its debut at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in January, it is soon on its way to your neighborhood AMC Theatres. We got an early look at the film during Sundance to share with you.
Shot like a riveting documentary, THEATER CAMP follows the fictional happenings of a modest summer theater camp in upstate New York. In the fallout of its beloved director, played by the very funny Amy Sedaris, becoming suddenly ill and her “crypto-bro” son (Jimmy Tatro) taking over without a clue as to who Bernadette Peters or Liza Minnelli are, the safe haven for theater kids isn’t quite the same as usual. PITCH PERFECT and DEAR EVAN HANSEN’s Ben Platt and BOOKSMART’s Molly Gordon play the longtime teachers and best friends of the camp who make sure the show goes on, despite all the unexpected obstacles putting a damper on this year’s show. It’s an underdog story and heartwarming comedy that might have you ready for a standing ovation!
This One’s For The Theater Kids
As of late, we’ve seen numerous musicals like WEST SIDE STORY and IN THE HEIGHTS hit the big screen with epic dance numbers and star power. THEATER CAMP is a change of pace, as it takes audiences to the ground floor where the love of these productions often begin, as beloved productions like these are performed by kids around the country, though on much smaller scales. Even though the song and dance numbers are more amateur, it’s worth sitting in a theatre to laugh and enjoy the unfolding of the story with others.
Audiences who have ever auditioned for a role in the school play, or come together with a theater company to put on a show for an audience will appreciate the specificity of the humor and happenings of this new release. But, it’s also very much worth experiencing the world of theater camps for its sweet story about the power of community and yes, musical theater.
Fresh Talent Star And Are Behind The Scenes
THEATER CAMP was written by a group of friends and feels as such. BOOKSMART co-stars Noah Galvin and Molly Gordon teamed up with modern musical theater icon Ben Platt, along with Nick Lieberman, the latter who has frequently helmed Platt’s music videos. The movie is packed full of funny improvisation moments that capture the intense passion of theater camp, along with the coziness of being around fellow fans of the same distinct dedication and making a musical together with little to no funding in a matter of days.
The movie showcases some A+ debut direction from Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman that captures a ton of fun comedic beats and intimate moments that signal a bright future for the two of them.
A Hilarious, But Grounded Mockumentary
The upcoming release emulates some of the energy of favorite comedies like MEAN GIRLS, or the unique scrappy quality of 2023 Best Animated Feature nominee, MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON. That’s certainly attributed to the fun quips that the mockumentary style adds to THEATER CAMP. Though the movie is certainly full of funny moments, it feels very much grounded in its setting and ultimately delivers a bittersweet storyline about the sacrifices that often must be made in the pursuit of being part of theater.
As the theater camp becomes chaotic without its director, Joan, Amos and Rebecca decide to maintain with business as usual, which includes the two of them crafting a wholly original play during the summer camp with its young students. There’s fun to be had as audiences watch the pair take their camp job very seriously and create a play this time around in tribute to Joan and her life. All the while, Joan’s son Troy, who very much has frat boy energy, is struggling to understand what makes his mother’s camp special, and entertains the idea of selling it as its attendees attend their annual patronage there.
THEATER CAMP was a major highlight of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, which famously celebrates independent cinema and has previously premiered now-classic films like 1989’s dark comedy HEATHERS, Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 debut RESERVOIR DOGS or the heartwarming 2006 film, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. Don’t miss another memorable theatre experience born from the prestigious festival, especially for the theater kids, by getting ready for THEATER CAMP!