When I originally discovered that soundtrack had been created with the title “Camp” I thought I was a musical adaptation of the 2003 musical/comedy film of the same title and while they are both about a group of kids at a summer camp, there is luckily no relation. The soundtrack is fun and energetic with the occasional emotional moment and I have to say, as someone who has been on numerous summer camps, the creators of this musical have managed to perfectly capture the essence of camp and portrayed it through song!
The show follows the goings-on of the affluent camp goody goody days before the opening of the “a less fortunate camp” which mysterious burns down forcing both camps to join together to become one singular camp. This leads to crazy antics and shenanigans but also a conflict between the kids of both camps where they eventually learn to love each other and realise they are all the same on the inside (if you thought that was cheesy then your in for a long ride!)
This musical is your classic, cheesy over-the-top musical which many people traditionally have issues with. It has a consistent air of community theatre about it which, in my opinion, is not a bad thing as it allows it to be very accessible by whoever and from business, standpoint allows for the greatest audience and Interest in future productions. This idea comes from the fact that Camp was originally written for a private theatre group but after super successful performances it continues to grow and grow until it became the beast it is today. Not only is the singing and performing somewhat simplified but also the character are very stereotypical and easy to understand. I can imagine schools and local theatre groups all across the world staging a production of camp with the set and staging being as resourceful with a hand-made feel to it means company do not need to break the bank to do this show which is great. The accompaniment to each song is stripped back to only contain a few instruments and allows this to be one of the most accessible musicals in the longest time.
The opening number truly exaggerates the sense of cheesiness and fun of the show as it is your typical musical theatre start to the show with each character delivering insight into who they and what they are planning to do etc. The over-the-top promotion of how affluent the rich kids are is built up perfectly with this number which makes the conflicts and contrast with the other camp more impactful. However, this opening number is 8-minutes long as does become tiresome when just listening to it. Don’t get me wrong when watching it live I bet your eyes will be watching a spectacle on stage but when you can only listen to the soundtrack it does get somewhat boring after a while. One of my favourite songs on this album has to be “geeks” due to purely how comical it is. This song has been written in such a way that it engages your brain to imagine what these singers look like, what costumes they are wearing etc and I personally can see this song being performed in comedy/musical concerts all across the world and audiences will never bore of it. The song “Gather Round The Camp Fire” is a hilarious look at the sense of community in camps but also possess some of the most clever lyrics I have ever heard. The song plays with sounds we associate with certain swear words but changes them at the last minute to have the listeners in stitches throughout. The two finale numbers in this show really help to bring the sense of fun and energy back to the audience before they leave with the actual finale song repeating musical motifs from other numbers in the song to remind the audience what has happened which is great. The songs in this musical are some of the most catchiest numbers I have ever heard and they find a place to stay in your head long after you have turned off the soundtrack!
There does seem to be a change in the mood about halfway through this soundtrack which is where I imagine the intermission would be. The first half is very fun, cheesy and energetic and the second half is more serious and emotions (classic musical theatre structure am I right 😂😂) The song “What Does My Future Hold” talks about the uncertainty young people face about their future which was very emotional to listen to. This song also had some of the best singing in the whole album especially towards the end of the song which was very nice to hear. The singer of “Straight Fire” is clearly a very talented performer as both his singing and rapping abilities were incredible. This intense number was excellently performed and I suppose you could describe whoever sang this song as “Straight Fire.” The most meaningful song from this musical has to be the song titled “Take Off The Mask” which talks about how on the “inside we are all the same.” It is a song about how we are acting a certain way but fundamental whether we are rich or poor we are all the same and obviously, this creates a massive sense of unity and community.
Overall, Camp is a fun and cheesy musical (which to be honest is my favourite type of musical) that is truest accessible to everyone and has important messages about unity and community through. It will have you rolling with laughing and singing the songs days after listening to them. I would rate this show as 4 out of 5 stars and can’t wait for the inevitable influx of community theatre taking on this wonderful show!