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Theater Camp (Movie Premiere)

Theatre Camp is a love letter to theatre kids; one that makes you feel seen, heard, valued and leaves you with a warm feeling of belonging. As a fellow theatre kid, I can admit that the movie will speak volumes to fellow theatre kids. However, the movie is brilliant and will definitely be enjoyed by a wide range of audiences, with its self-aware (almost mockumentary style), catchy songs, hilarious one liners, an extremely talented cast and engaging storylines.

The movie, with its ensemble cast, allows an opportunity for everyone to shine. Much like theatre productions, it’s the efforts of the entire team that make this such a compelling production. It was refreshing to see the smaller characters be properly fleshed out and have their own storylines with actual room for character growth and arcs.

The kids in the movie were brilliant, and interestingly, produced the most laughs with their reactions and quips. A few of the kids who particularly stood out to me were Darla (Kyandra Sanchez) who was a beautiful performer. I loved how her character was used, and her character journey was perhaps the most touching. Christopher (Luke Islam) who performed a beautiful rendition of Wicked’s Defying Gravity. Mackenzie (Bailee Bowick) with vocals and expressions that had me breathless, both from laughter and from her talent. Lainey (Vivienne Sachs), an aspiring theatre techie who steals every scene that she is in and Devon (Donovan Colan) who brought the minority representation that the film needed. His character, whilst it was used for a few comedic scenes, also brought a rather new perspective to the film. Alan (Alan Kim) is another hilarious character, and is a sweet reminder that theatre isn’t always about being on stage, but rather helping to build it.

I also want to shoutout to the incredible casting of Noah Galvin as Glenn. The crews and creatives in the theatre industry are the unsung heroes of every production, and this film celebrates and plays on this incredibly well. With the hilarious moment wherein Glenn allows himself to be overwhelmed for a short roll down a hill, before immediately jumping back into action. The scenes preceding this moment also drew some of the biggest laughs from the audience; a recognition that this is unfortunately a brutal reality. The literal and metaphorical way in which he saves the show is also commendable. Without any spoilers, I will say that I regretted having to follow cinema etiquette in the moment, for that deserved a standing ovation. It was one of the strongest moments in the film.

The friendship between co-directors, artistic soulmates and childhood best friends Amos (Ben Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon) was such a beautiful depiction of friendship. The movie makes a conscious decision to avoid sugarcoating some of the conflicts that these characters go through, and instead handles them in a vulnerable and mature manner. Their friendship faces challenges both internally and externally and is brilliantly depicted, which ultimately leads to another hilarious moment when they finally confront one another. I’d feared that this friendship, would divert the attention, but the movie stays true to its title - it’s about the theatre camp and there is space for everyone. They further play on these emotional beats by screening actual footage of the two actors growing up and starring in actual productions together. This was such a sweet tribute to how truthful the film really is.

Another shoutout to the theatre camp teachers Clive (Nathan Lee Graham) who is the epitome of confidence, and Janet (Ayo Edebiri) who is a prime example of ‘fake it until you make it’. The characters, with their limited screen time, leave their mark. Jimmy Tatro as Troy Rubinsky is also a wonderful addition. His character, being one of the few, if only, non-theatre kid was played brilliantly by his thoroughly confused and amused reactions. It was a rather clever way of opening the film up to a wider audience, who will doubtlessly miss a few of the references, but will enjoy watching the film anyhow. His exaggerated obsession with social media and vlogging somehow manages to work well throughout the film.

The movie’s only slight flaw was the characterisation of Caroline (Patti Harrison). Starting out as a strong character, she falls a little flat towards the film’s climax, becoming almost an idea of what an antagonist should appear to be. Not that this is a commentary of Patti Harrison’s acting abilities, which gave me chills towards the beginning.

Theater camp’s greatest strength is the accurate representation of being someone who is or was a theatre kid. From the discussions of trying to find one’s place or self-confidence, to finding an artistic family, to the difficulties of being an artist.

Furthermore the sacrifices that often need to be made to progress, the importance of arts as more than just a means of entertainment or how underfunded the arts is. The movie sums the creative industry up pretty well. However, the movie is careful to never overwhelm the audiences with this, and instead leaves a clear and well thought out storyline.

The movie is so heart-warming, hysterically hilarious and really plays on giving audiences the chance to feel moments along with the characters.

Theatre camp is one of the most effortlessly funny films that manages to tick all the boxes to make it a wholesome and must-watch family film. I highly recommend taking the time to watch it, theatre kid or not. We’re all welcome at the theatre camp.

AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review


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