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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

It’s time to spend your summer at ‘Theater Camp’

Alex Kendall

“Theater Camp” starts with a coma.

In the middle of an elementary school production of “Bye, Bye Birdie,” Joan Rubinsky (Amy Sedaris) — the beloved owner of the famed local theater camp, Adirond-ACTS — suffers a seizure due to the flashing lights of the surprisingly high-budget performance. She collapses to the floor, completely unresponsive.

In the somewhat prolific words of her son, Troy Rubinsky (Jimmy Tatro), “Long story short, theater gave my mom a coma.”

And due to that coma, it’s now his responsibility to lead the Adirond-ACTS through another successful summer of musicals, dances and a whole slew of eccentric kids. Easier said than done.

As if an unresponsive mother isn’t enough, the sudden threat of foreclosure makes the summer far more dramatic than any production. And with a cast of characters this quirky, that’s a hard feat to do.

With Troy Rubinsky in charge of a gaggle of theater kids he has no idea what to do with — they call him ‘cishet bitch’ in the middle of a pep talk — the long-standing counselors are relied on more than ever… and their personalities that are almost as big, if not bigger, than their talents.

Two of the most notable features in the summer camp cast are Molly Gordon and Ben Platt as the delightfully chaotic best friend duo of Rebecca-Diane and Amos Klobuchar, two counselors and longtime attendees of Adirond-ACTS. They’re on an overgrown-theater-kid level that only serves to deliver some of the best scenes of the movie.

When the campers are auditioning for the upcoming summer musicals, a ten-year-old takes to the stage to perform “I Dreamed a Dream” from “Les Misréables.” Klobuchar’s reaction? “I do believe her as a French prostitute… I’m sorry, I’m sorry, sex worker,” he corrects upon a face from Rebecca-Diane.

It’s the kind of absurdist energy that drives the movie and makes Glenn Winthrop (Noah Galvin) — the resident tech manager extraordinaire who secretly yearns to take centerstage — a scene stealer throughout his arc of self-discovery in the film. Galvin’s perpetual deer-in–headlights facial expressions and soft-spoken voice eventually bleed away to one of the best plot twists in the film.

The cast is chock-full of talent, which is why it’s so unfortunate that Ayo Edebiri as Janet Walch, a jack-of-all-trades stage fighting instructor who lies on her resume, is so underused. Edebiri brings a goofy dryness to the movie that beautifully balances out the over-the-top personalities of the characters around her. Her one-liners are a bright spot in the film, which is why it’s unfortunate there’s so few of them.

And yet, “Theater Camp” is a comedy still worth watching. Theater kids are generally regarded as crazy and insufferable, but it makes you love and root for them anyways. The idiosyncrasies of the adult and kid cast alike only serve to make each drama queen even more interesting.

There’s no shortage of talent, from the impressive group of child actors playing the campers to the Broadway and musical theater veterans that round out the adult cast. There’s never a stray note, a weak pirouette or the usage of cry sticks… except maybe just once (Rebecca-Diane falls dramatically to her knees as she begs her young actor to “get off the stick”).

“Theater Camp” cares about the family behind the divas, and that’s where the heart of the movie lies. At a mixer with the rival rich-kid camp from across the lake, snobby middle schoolers watch on as the camp kids pour in wearing tie-dye and friendship bracelets. But they don’t care. They still party to dance-remixes of Broadway classics like no one is watching.

So as they say at Adirond-ACTS, “you can’t spell community without coma.” And after watching “Theater Camp,” why would you ever want to?


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Zoe Leone, Arts & Life Editor

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