If you are a musical theater geek, you more than likely have heard of the original comedy Theater Camp directed by Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman. At the Sundance Film Festival, it received the U. S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Ensemble Acting. The film had the Texas Premiere at the 2023 SXSW Film & TV Festival at the Paramount Theater as part of the Festival Favorites section. The screenplay by Noah Galvin, Ben Platt and directors Gordon/Lieberman is based on their short film (which I have not viewed). The film has received praise from people who enjoy musical theater and this type of comedy. For those of us who like musical theater, that does not automatically have us fully enjoying this mockumentary style comedy. It has some humorous moments, but I certainly would not consider it “hilarious.” I enjoyed the performances by the young campers who really liked being a part of theater, but not all the adult performers were as successful in their delivery of dialogue as comedians.
The upstate New York camp is AdirondACTS, founded by Joan (Amy Sedaris), is struggling financially and then she has a medical issue. The company manager Rita (Caroline Aaron) must steo in quickly as the theater campers are arriving soon. Joan’s son Troy (Jimmy Tatro) who is indifferent to the camp and theater, promises to make this a thriving business. He is not aware of all the challenges, and it is soon obvious he is in over his head.
The technical director Glenn (Galvin), costume designer Gigi (Owen Thiele), dance teacher Clive (Nathan Lee Graham) and resident Rodgers and Hammerstein, Amos (Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Gordon) plan their annual original show, but also have many challenges, resulting in a tribute called Joan, Still.
Synopsis: Tony Award winner Ben Platt and Molly Gordon star in the original comedy Theater Camp as Amos and Rebecca-Diane – lifelong best friends and drama instructors at a rundown camp in upstate New York. When clueless tech-bro Troy (Jimmy Tatro) arrives to run the property (into the ground), Amos, Rebecca-Diane and production manager Glenn (Noah Galvin) band together with the staff and students, staging a masterpiece to keep their beloved summer camp afloat.
Produced by: Erik Feig, p.g.a., Samie Kim Falvey, Julia Hammer, p.g.a., Ryan Heller, Maria Zuckerman, Jessica Elbaum, p.g.a., Will Ferrell, Noah Galvin, Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, Ben Platt
1 hour 34 minutes – Now playing in Austin theaters as of July 21, 2023.
Source: Searchlight Pictures, SXSW