Theater Camp

‘Theater Camp’ // Searchlight Pictures

‘Theatre Camp’ was surprising.

‘Theater Camp’ was a silly, hilarious and surprisingly moving new film from Searchlight Pictures. Screening at the all-new Angelika Film Centre in Woollongabba, ‘Theater Camp’ featuring Ben Platt and Molly Gordon follows a haphazard theatre camp in upstate New York – a haven for budding performers. After its founder Joan falls into a coma in the first few minutes of the film, her clueless and non-theate-loving son Troy is tasked with keeping the camp running. Troy and the other eccentric theatre, dance and music teachers at camp must find a way to save the camp and prevent its foreclosure. 

Styled as a mockumentary, the film utilises talking heads and breaking of the fourth wall to follow the band of misfit campers and teachers as they write and premiere an original musical, ‘Joan Still’ over three weeks, in an attempt to save the camp. 

The film’s success comes in its ability to lean into its earnestedness and dorkiness. It’s a movie for anyone who was or is a theatre kid, someone who lived and breathed plays and musical theatre growing up (or still do!). It’s poignant and powerful as the ‘Theater Camp’ itself is ridiculous in its premise but still manages to connect with the viewer; particularly, anyone who felt like a misfit or out of place and was able to relish in a space where they could be themselves, which is what ‘Theater Camp’ provides for its campers. 

There are a number of jokes that will resonate with theatre kids alone, but it’s not necessary to have been or be a theatre kid to enjoy ‘Theater Camp’ . The film cleverly leans into stereotypes in a way that feels accessible to non theatre viewers. 

And it’s moving, at its heart is a key message around belonging. What it means to have a safe space, to have a place where you feel at home and why this ‘Theater Camp’ is so important not only for its campers but for its teachers. 

The primary focus of the film is the core relationship between best friends and camp teachers Amos (Ben Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon) excellent portrayals that feel like they are probably remarkably authentic or extensions of their true personalities. Platt and Gordon are supported by Ayo Edebiri as Janet Walch (a new teacher at camp who lied on her resume to get the job), Jimmy Tatro as Troy Rubinsky (Joan’s clueless son) and a revelatory performance from Noah Galvin as Glenn Wintrop, his journey is perhaps the most surprising and delightful over the course of the film. Alongside the camp staff are a wonderful cast of young performers playing the ‘Theater Camp’ campers who each bring moments of hilarity and relatibility to the world of ‘Theater Camp’

This film is for anyone who is or has been a theatre kid and is ultimately a love letter to music theatre, but even if you’ve never played a game of Zip, Zap, Zop or Space Jump you’re still bound to revel in the hilarity of ‘Theater Camp’ .

‘Theater Camp’ plays from September 7th at Angelika Film Centre. For more information visit their website.

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