The theater kids are becoming self-aware…
Theater Camp, an upcoming film from the minds of Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, Ben Platt, and Noah Galvin, wowed at this year’s annual Sundance Film Festival —so much so, it even got a standing ovation!
Filmed mockumentary style, Theater Camp follows a group of young theater lovers at a summer camp in upstate New York who are thrown into chaos when the property owner (played by Amy Sedaris) falls into a coma and her fratty influencer son takes over. The camp is overflowing with outrageous personalities from both the kids and counselors, all fighting to get their moment in the spotlight. Every character is giving Rachel Berry a run for her money.
Platt, Galvin, and Gordon star in the film alongside Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri, Owen Theile, Rita Cohen, Nathan Lee Graham, and an incredible cast of young actors (many of them queer) who work hard to put on a show and save the camp from bankruptcy. The film is a lovingly ridiculous celebration of theater and the people who adore it.
The four writers and real-life friends pitched the film to Will Ferrell’s production company – and he was happy to sign on.
“This movie makes me so jealous that I never went to theater camp,” Ferrell tells Out. “I was a jockey kid. Obviously, some part of my brain was like, ‘I want to be a comedian one day,’ but I never did the school plays. When I watch the movie, I’m just like ugh I missed out. That’s what’s so sweet about this movie is that it makes you want to go to theater camp. It’s not too late!”
Though they both starred in the Tony Award-winning show Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway back-to-back, this is Galvin and Platt’s first professional endeavor together.
“Our focus was the collaboration of the four of us,” Platt explains. “Molly and Nick are our co-directors, our closest friends, and we all wrote and produced it together. Getting to be part of a larger group took a little pressure off of this being our first major collaboration.”
It was a family affair! Despite already acting like an old married couple, Platt and Galvin (who are recently engaged) didn’t butt heads too much while putting the movie together. “We only really fought one time and it was on the very last day of filming,” laughs Galvin.
The two finish each other’s sentences on the Theater Camp red carpet. It’s easy to see how their hive mind was an advantage in the film. “We also find a lot of the same things funny which is why we decided to get married,” says Platt. “It was really fun to write together and make each other laugh.”
Platt plays the narcissistic but loveable theater connoisseur Amos while Galvin charms as the overworked stagehand Glenn (who gets one hell of a redemption arc). The couple agreed that they’re most excited for viewers to see the big musical at the climax of the film that they wrote, and trust us, you’ll want to be sat for this giggle fest.
Theater Camp may have been shot in 19 days, but Platt and Galvin left the set even more inspired, especially after working with the insanely talented kids who steal the show.
“There are so leaps and bounds ahead of where I was,” Galvin remarks of their young queer castmates. “There are so solid in their own skin and within themselves.” Platt adds, “It’s heartening, that kind of unabashed confidence and openness.” Galvin agreed that they “made me want to be better.”
Ultimately, Platt hopes that Theater Camp lets theater and queer kids alike know that “There’s always a place to belong. We were really grateful to have a film that has a ton of queer characters of all different kinds. We don’t have to sort of checklist the archetypes of queer characters” to stay true to the fact that “a lot of theater spaces are very queer spaces” and to represent them accurately.
Lastly, we had to ask about Galvin's ahead-of-its-time gay ABC sitcom The Real O’Neals, which ended after only two seasons in 2017. Any chance we'll ever get a third season? "Probably never," Galvin gasped when the show was mentioned. "But I would love to think maybe someday we'll do a weird reunion special or something. People weren't ready for us. America wasn't ready."
We're certainly ready now.
Following its Sundance premiere, the cast and crew fittingly celebrated with a karaoke party at the Acura Festival village in downtown Park City, Utah. Soon after, Theater Camp
sold to Searchlight Pictures for $8 million and is gearing up for a theatrical release, hopefully sometime this year.