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Summers Hidden Treasure: The movie that got swept up in the summer chaos that you need to see.

It’s 10:20 AM, there is a cherry-coke icee in my left hand, a large popcorn in my right, and a pack of Twizzlers smuggled away in my tote bag. It’s 104 outside on a Saturday morning, and I’m expecting an empty theatre, to my delight, it is not empty, each row is filled with dazzling smiles and awaits a specific yet inviting ensemble of perky, ambitious, talented theatre kids.

It’s no secret summer is a big time for blockbusters, from Transformers to Turtles, to the unmentionable double feature that has swept the nation, the fanfare has been hearty to theaters everywhere. That being said, it is impossible to make sure you’re completely caught up with everything that makes its way to our screens, and sometimes the best things get lost in the chaos.

Theatre Camp follows the adventures (and misadventures) of a camp in upstate New York for performers and their summer under the spotlight. This ensemble cast is tasked with keeping the lights on amidst show season, secrets, and lots and lots of show tunes. With eccentric teachers and students, and eager motivations for the perfect opening night, Theatre camp is a delightful summer surprise.

Without many spoilers, the film takes approaches in a relatable, heartwarming, and original way.

It felt like watching Fame as a kid and seeing my most secretive, ambitious, musical side be portrayed, not in a caricatured way telling me there's something wrong with my eccentricities, but in a considerate unashamed way, while still poking fun at the albeit, silly ways of a true theatre kid. While Theatre Camp is most definitely not Fame, It brings something special and unique for our time that will ultimately make it a theatre kid classic.

What was even more interesting, was how well it fits into our society today and the irony of the continued efforts of the arts being taken for granted, for instance, the WGA and SAG strikes.

Creatives are struggling to live and sustain, and yet we loom on over a hundred days of the strike for the WGA, and the thought process for most is that the entertainment industry is unimportant, so their fair wages are unimportant as well, but this is more than unfair, it is unjust.

There is a line said in the film during a troubling part of putting together the production, It flies by in about two seconds before the movie moves on to its next crazy crisis, but I couldn't help breaking all my theatre etiquette training by immediately pulling out my phone (don't worry it was low light) to save it in my notes page, it was “we’re theatre people we turn cardboard into gold”.

Something like that stops you in your tracks when you've seen low-budget theatre directors make dreams come true, or spent hours putting together idea boards for a short film, or when for the past three-plus months, you've watched mentors and future colleagues walk the picket lines outside of multi-million dollar companies. It stops you in your tracks not only because of how true it is but because of how real it makes it.

The entertainment industry loves to be idolized and put on a pedestal, telling my mother I wanted to make movies was basically like telling her I intended to rule the world, in her eyes I think she saw it as foolish and narcissistic because, to her, that is what “Hollywood” makes you, this is not true.

Exhibit A comes in the form of one of my favorite plots of the movie, the relationship between Molly Gordon and Ben Platt’s characters. They are at first seen as brightened, overgrown, over-ambitious camp counselors, but as the story develops we see they care so deeply not only about the kids but the craft. Amos, Platt's character, goes through this discovery that his passion is what makes him a good director and teacher, and that where he is, isn't a placeholder for fame, just as Molly Gordon's character, Rebecca-Diane, allows herself to go after the same ambition that got her to camp in the first place, despite doing it without her best friend and her favorite safety net.

Watching Theatre Camp, or even strike coverage, one may think it's dumb. Why take something like this so seriously? why care so much? As artists, there is almost an expectation because of the field we choose, that we should expect and accept to be underpaid and overworked, but just because we can “make gold out of cardboard”, doesn't mean we should have to.

Making art isn't done because it is always sunshine and rainbows, and definitely not because it is easy and rewarding. It is done because it is impulsive and necessary, it is done because it connects, builds, and makes this world a lot more understandable.

Theatre camp takes this idea and wraps it in a bundle of joy with the core being why most of us start in the first place.

From Noah Galvin's show-stealing step in as the titular in-house role of older Joan to the throat coat dealing before performances, Theatre Camp finds its balance between humor and heart that showcases the truth of what theatre is and should be, fun.

Written by Toni Desiree

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