Onyx’s musical tribute to summer camp hits all the right notes

Watch for synchronized swimmers popping up to narrate (in song) parts of the original Onyx production Summer Camp! The Musical.
Molly O'Donnell

The Details

Summer Camp! The Musical
four stars
August 17-19, 8 p.m., $15.
Onyx Theatre, 953 E. Sahara Ave., 732-7225.

Summer’s almost at an end, but you wouldn’t know it if you were standing in the Onyx Theatre. An original production, Summer Camp! The Musical is keeping the season alive as it revives the ’80s teen comedies you remember. No, not the Johns Hughes films, more like Porky’s, glory hole and all. Think Wet Hot American Summer-style parody set to sincere-sounding, period-correct music, and you’ve got Summer Camp. This premise is faithfully carried out, with cringe-worthy sex jokes, nerds desperately trying to get laid, bullying jocks and a quirky camp counselor played by the show-stealing Anita Bean.

But the obvious parts of the musical are not where you get genuine belly laughs. Those are supplied by more surprising moments not covered in the production’s slow start and über-camp aesthetic: like when synchronized swimmers surface to comment on the framed action in song, when Jean Claude Pierre Van Damme makes a grand entrance, basically the moments where the play parodies itself parodying an ’80s teen sex comedy.

There is, however, some fine-tuning that could make the production function better. While it’s clear everyone in the show is singing, acting and dancing his or her heart out, only a few in the cast (primarily leads Christine De Chavez, Joe Hynes and Tony Blosser) have the chops to do all three and still project their voices over the sound system sans mic. In general, you’d miss a lot if you happened to be at the back. But this and the show’s occasional dramatic lulls are small setbacks. From the cleverly designed set to the interactive elements (yes, there’s a splash zone) and the more subtly earned laughs that keep the play going, director Troy Heard and company have a lot to be proud of.


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