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Theater Camp

Theater Camp: Calling All Thespians!

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All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and entrances. And one man in his time plays many parts.

– William Shakespeare

If you are looking for a fun summer movie with non-stop laughs, then Theater Camp is definitely the film for you. The 2023 film was directed by Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman. The movie had its international premiere at the Sundance Film Festival during January of this year but it was not released in theaters by Searchlight Pictures until last month. Theater Camp is an American mockumentary that will have you on the floor clutching your ribs from the laughter.

The film starts off with a woman named Joan (Molly Gordan) that is the founder of a New York theater camp and experiences a seizure during a theatrical performance of “Bye-Bye Birdie”. The strobe lights cause the seizure thus sending her into a coma. Joan’s son Troy (Jimmy Tatro) is a scatterbrained influencer and a self-claimed entrepreneur that takes charge of the AdirondACTS theater camp. All chaos breaks loose when Troy realizes that the camp is about to experience a foreclosure due to debt that Joan did not pay. Troy scrambles to find ways to pay off what is owed.

Meanwhile, the AdirondACTS performing arts teachers Amos (Ben Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordan) begin writing a last-minute play about Joan’s life in her honor. Both teachers are aspiring actors and best friends that grew up attending the camp. They are unaware of the looming foreclosure since Troy kept it a secret from everyone except the theater technician, who overhears Troy’s conversation with a manipulative hedge fund representative that is associated with a rivaling theater camp for rich kids. The representative’s company has coveted the AdirondACTS theater camp for years and is trying to influence Troy to sell the property.

The instructors and campers have a month to prepare for the performance before the camp possibly closes. The kids rehearse and also learn how to work on stage product equipment. Hearing children swear at grown adults and engaging in grown up theatrical exercises such as roleplaying a divorce make the movie all the more comical. The kids that were cast in this film were incredibly talented and really showcased their performing arts abilities. One of the students sang “Defying Gravity” from the Broadway musical Wicked and he absolutely did not miss a note.

Theater Camp 2Chaos ensues since Troy is running out of time and has made several failed attempts to raise money to prevent the foreclosure. He sleeps with the representative and sells the property by accident. The play’s soundtrack is not ready and Amos is panicking since the lead student actress dropped out on show day. Rebecca-Diane is missing in action since she found a job performing on a cruise ship and skips rehearsals. Amos argues with her since he is codependent on his best friend and did not approve of Rebecca-Diane’s secrecy. The theater technician Glenn (Noah Calvin) dressed in drag and ended up saving the show by casting himself as Joan.

At the end of the day, sometimes we have to find our tribe that matches our sense of weirdness. That is definitely what I took away from the film.  It was funny and relatable to see some of my high school experiences with my former thespian friends play out on screen. It really hit home because when I was a teen, the eccentric theater kids took me in as their friend and made me feel understood.

Theater Camp is a hilarious movie, but I was hoping to see some more rivalry between the camps. I really enjoyed that there was a lot of LGBTQIA+ humor which made the film ten times more enjoyable. The directors even cast LGBTQIA+ actors and actresses, thus making the movie inclusive.  The mockumentary poked fun at the ridiculousness of influencers along with the modern day slang that millennials and Gen-Z individuals use. The movie reminds me of the 2003 comedy School of Rock due to its humor and musical themes. I definitely see this movie as a soon-to-be classic in years to come.

Theater Camp screens through Thursday, August 24th.
Saturday, Aug 19 – 12:30pm
Sunday, Aug 20 – 12:30pm
Monday, Aug 21 – 1:15pm
Tuesday, Aug 22 – 1:15pm
Wednesday, Aug 23 – 1:15pm
Thursday, Aug 24 – 1:15pm


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