Sundance Film Festival 2023: ‘Theater Camp’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

If you haven’t noticed, there is a clear definition between theatre and film. Dreamers have a more communal experience in the theatre community, whereas those who begin in Hollywood have a different outlook on fame. The theatre community is full of heart, understanding and compassion for their fellow actor. There is a specific “theatre” language that only theatre kids can understand. They live and breathe Sondheim, Lloyd-Webber, and Patti Lupone. Those who live and breathe theatre will break out into song at any moment. Theater Camp, directed by Molly Gordon and Nick Lieberman, perfectly captures the essence of what it means to be in the theatre community, and it’s wonderful. 

During the summer months, young teens want to explore their dreams of becoming stars on Broadway. So, they head to one camp where they know they’ll feel at home. Co-writers Noah Galvin, Molly Gordon, and Nick Lieberman write a funny and witty story that highlights all aspects of being in a theatre company. The staff working at this camp all want to help the children become the very best. And they take their jobs seriously. This mockumentary follows the aftermath of their leader falling into a coma the day before the summer session begins, and her son (who knows absolutely nothing about theatre) takes over. Gordon and Lieberman show the craziness of running a theatre camp and the power of friendship through shared interests.

Apart from the dialogue being “theatre kid” accurate, there are some heartfelt moments sprinkled in with friendships. Amos (Ben Platt) and Rebecca-Diane (Molly Gordon) have been friends since they were five. They were scene partners in every show. And they built a beautiful friendship. But life happens outside of theatre camp, and Rebecca-Diane has different dreams than Amos. As they plan their final show together on behalf of their beloved creator Joan Rubinsky (Amy Sedaris), their friendship takes a toll, and their true colours come out like never before. The camp crumbles around them, and so does their relationship. But, in true theatre fashion, the show must go on for these campers. 

Theater Camp is a real treat for those who grew up in the theatre community. It has plenty of laughs with the campers and teachers, as the sass runs deep with them. The structure of the mockumentary adds another layer to running the camp itself because you’re watching everything unfold from every angle. Gordon and Lieberman do a great job balancing the theatre camp and the relationships affected by the changes. It’s lighthearted and fun and shows what it’s like to be part of the loving theatre community. This movie will only work for you if you come from a theatre background because you’ll appreciate the humour and the community atmosphere. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s