If you love ’80s teen comedies, Summer Camp the Musical will be some kind of wonderful
By Kelle Shillaci
Options are limited when it comes to summer theater: Pack up the kids and hightail it to Spring Mountain for some wholesome family fun … or hire a sitter and relive your pimply pubescent past at the Onyx Theater’s production of Summer Camp The Musical, a raunchy romp through the stained-bedsheets world of ’80s teen sex comedies.
Not since Anthony Michael Hall held up Molly Ringwald’s panties in a high school bathroom have nerds scored a victory like the one Dwight and Nolan set forth to accomplish in Summer Camp, written and directed by Troy Heard. It’s the summer of ’82 as we follow uber-nerds Nolan Hightower (Joe Hynes) and Dwight Spraggins (Tony Blosser) on their quest to lose their virginity at Camp Tigglebitties. It quickly becomes an epic Star Trek-versus-Star Wars battle as the two employ classic ’80s rom-com strategies to win the physical affections of Lacy St. Clair (Christine De Chavez).
From Bosom Buddies-style cross-dressing to creating a spandex and fanny pack-wearing French alter-ego, both boys fumble in their efforts to lure St. Clair away from her jock boyfriend, Troy Masters (played with glistening abs and requisite Iceman shades by Brandon White), building to the play’s denouement: the Kotex 500 canoe race.
With a plot and character development as flimsy as the play’s cardboard set designs, the production banks on dirty, kitschy fun. Jam-packed with ’80s nostalgia, Heard’s dialogue and song lyrics (co-written with Angela Chan) may be geared toward those who came of age in the Cold War era, but later generations won’t require a crash course in Reaganomics to get the adolescent punchlines about splooge, titties and Ex-Lax that abound. You either like it, or you don’t.
Mostly solid performances carry Heard and Chan’s musical numbers, including Troy’s whiteboy “N.E.R.D.S” rap, ’80s hair band-inspired “Balls of Thunder” and Dwight and Nolan’s “Friendship 101” anthem.
As sex-crazed, middle-aged camp director Carla Drycock, Jane Lynch-lookalike Anita Bean delivers on laughs, addressing the audience as if they, too, were receiving bunk assignments and mosquito bites, while Hynes, Blosser and Kady Kay as quirky Molly Morebush sing, lisp and sass their way through comfortably silly scripts.
While the play’s sophomoric humor and barrage of pop-culture tidbits may not be for everyone, Heard’s flamboyant enthusiasm for ’80s-style campiness can be infectious at times. But then again, so is an STD. Dirty fun, indeed. And, given the play’s designated “splash zone” in the front rows, this reviewer recommends choosing your seats carefully.
Summer Camp The Musical Friday-Sunday, 8 p.m., through Aug. 26; Onyx Theater, 953 E. Sahara Ave. #16, 732-7225, $15, $20