Filled with theatre in jokes and a slightly wacky sense of humour, Theater Camp has plenty to recommend it – but sometimes the comedy can be a little bit repetitive.

Transforming a short film into a feature length can always be a risk – particularly when like Theater Camp comes with a strong fan base – will the story hold out for longer? In the case of Theater Camp it is partly yes but partly no.

Written by Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, Ben Platt and Noah Galvin, the story follows that of the eccentric staff who work in a theatre camp who are desperate to try and save it as the cash-strapped  Joan (Amy Sedaris) ends up in a coma, affected by the lights used in the middle of the camp’s production of Bye Bye Birdie. Her son vlogger Troy steps in with no knowledge of musical theatre and yet does his best to play his part to try and keep the camp afloat. Elsewhere, the plot also focuses on co-dependent best friends Amos (Platt) and Rebecca-Diane’s (Gordon) increasingly tense relationship as they try and create a musical celebrating Joan’s legacy.  

Filmed as a mockumentary, the film is filled with plenty of wonderful personalities brought to life vividly by the cast (both the adults and the kids) and I particularly enjoyed the sequences in which you get to see the glimpses of the classes that the students take part in. Yes, there are moments in the script where it feels as though some of the humour steps over the boundaries somewhat (in one unexpected moment comparing one of the kids auditioning for the show as a sex worker was a line that felt uncomfortable) and becomes slightly repetitive but musical theatre fans will enjoy all of the in jokes that they can spot along the way.

While the script is extremely silly and you do feel like that the sense of the plot gets lost along the way, there is no denying that this feels like a real celebration of musical theatre and also the hard work (and stress) that goes into putting a show on. It is an affectionate tribute with plenty to enjoy, particularly with regards to the performances from the younger cast members including Bailee Bonick as Mackenzie who showcases some incredible vocals and Alan Kim as Alan brings a smile to the face as he tries to act as an agent. The audition and rehearsal scenes are wonderfully executed and will be relatable to anyone who has taken part in a show.

The adults of the cast all do well to bring each larger than life and quirky character to the big screen. Jimmy Tatro as the hapless Troy is certainly a standout performance as he stumbles his way through in trying to save the theatre camp, Molly Gordon is brilliantly zany as a music teacher who is fascinated with the supernatural, Ben Platt delivers plenty of comedy through his straight delivery as Amos trying to put on a show and Noah Galvin as the somewhat forgotten about and overworked stage manager Glenn is fantastic support.

It is a film that showcases just how theatre can bring different types of people together and how it has the power to bring joy into our lives. Yes it does get a little bit silly in places and the story is slightly forgotten about in and amongst the fun that is being had, but if you just go along for the ride you will certainly have a lot of fun. For those who have ever been in a school production, there is plenty here to bring back memories of the joy of putting on a show.

By Emma Clarendon

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Theater Camp is out in cinemas on the 25th August.


%d bloggers like this: