Despite likeable cast, 'Summer Camp!' needs work


It should be easy to decide if you want to see Table 8 Productions' "Summer Camp! The Musical," now at the Onyx.

It's an original spoof of 1980s movie sex comedies about nerdy high school guys devoted to losing their virginity. Soon. It has cheerleader chants that scream, "Beavers! Beavers! Open wide!" When one boy calls another a "dog humper," the response is "bed wetter!" There are fart jokes, a splatter zone (no Vegas spoof is complete without a spatter zone) and a score that boasts titles such as, "We're Getting Laid," and "Kotex 500."

If you're already thinking writers Angela Chan and Troy Heard are on to something, then by all means, rush to buy tickets. If you find this all too familiar, then steer clear.

Nothing wrong with a good, "stupid" spoof, but the authors and director Heard haven't come up with enough cleverness. There are long stretches of boredom occasionally interrupted by genuine wit. The script could easily use an hour of cuts. The songs often bring the show to a halt and rarely go beyond the "humor" of their title (once we hear the lyric "We're Getting Laid," the number just keeps repeating itself; it has nothing more to say).

But the eight-member cast is likable. Joe Hynes projects such naked desire that you hope he will immediately achieve his goal. Tony Blosser plays a speech-challenged, socially unskilled romancer so effortlessly that it's a shock to see him turn into such a smooth French paramour.

As the stern, middle-aged, childlike head counselor, Anita Bean doesn't need lines to do funny. Her domineering presence suggests dangerous thoughts.

There are a few moments that transcend the source material. A starry-eyed canoe ride is magnetic and creatively staged. And a final chase scene gives the production a strong, structural climax that makes you feel the script is an entity unto itself.

But it's too soon to stage this show. Heard just directed a major musical, then directed (and designed) this, and he's now preparing "Hamlet." I wonder if it might be time for him to slow down and concentrate on polishing.

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at vegastheaterchat@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125.

 

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