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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Theater Kids Rejoice: ‘Theater Camp’ is a Raucously Funny Mockumentary

Premiering at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, it’s a comedic triumph for theater kids everywhere. 
(Courtesy of Sundance Institute)


It’s difficult nowadays to write a taut and genuinely sweet comedy calling back to adolescence. Furthermore, the mockumentary as a genre has been thoroughly iterated upon. It can be difficult to pull one off that feels fresh and original.

Theater Camp,” directed by Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman, is a breath of fresh air. It’s a comedic triumph for theater kids everywhere.

Rarely Does a Joke Miss

After “Adiron-ACTS” owner Joan Rubinsky (Amy Sedaris) goes into a coma, the theater camp is in trouble. The movie follows music director Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon), acting teacher Amos Klobuchar (Ben Platt),  Joan’s son and crypto bro Troy (Jimmy Tatro), stage manager Glenn Winthrop (Noah Galvin) and inexperienced stage combat teacher Janet Walch (Ayo Edebiri). 

The drive of the movie lies in the failing state of the camp with inexperienced, non-theatrical Troy at the helm. Shenanigans ensue as a business investor (Patti Harrison) from a neighboring summer camp attempts to shut down Camp Adiron-ACTS.

The film itself is an almost constant stream of jokes and one-liners that rarely miss. The strength of the movie lies in its unabashed love for theater. It isn’t afraid to poke fun at the people who make the titular camp run. The dysfunction and the struggle of trying to save the beloved camp are at the center of the movie. It provides ample room for jokes that everyone, not just theater kids, can appreciate.

A Bombastic Third Act

The strength on top of the main adult actors in this movie is the young actors that make up the bulk of the camp. All of them carry a sense of charisma that is great to see on screen.

Without the young actors, “Theater Camp” would simply not work. Their infectious comedic timing and energy really pull the whole thing together. 

When all seems lost and the camp is in the throes of interpersonal drama, the autobiographical original musical “Joan, Still” is at a standstill with no hope in sight. But, as is the common phrase in theater, the show must go on. What follows in the third act is a hilarious and inventive final performance that will have you laughing till the very last scene. 

Though “Theater Camp” may follow a formula, it uses it to its advantage. It delivers a fresh and comforting take on the mockumentary that both dazzles and delights.

As a former theater kid, the jokes and story hit closer to home. However, even if you never were a theater kid, this movie is so full of heart that it will touch anyone and their inner child regardless. 


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