A truly original musical with catchy rock songs and infectious humor, "Fat Camp" shines amidst the lighter fare at this year's New York Musical Theatre Festival. Songwriter Randy Blair and book writer Timothy Michael Drucker deliver a smart, hilarious show that gives talented performers a chance to leave their chubby-sidekick and overlooked-secretary roles behind and take center stage.
Blair himself stars as Robert. His presence and delivery make for a character that fills the show with life. Ryah Nixon is funny and genuine as Robert's love interest, Taylor, a well-developed, compelling character. Kate Weber punctuates the show with even greater bursts of humor as Britta, the camp spy who becomes an unexpected hero.
Carly Jibson shines in the spotlight as Daphne—and only partially because of her gold sequined beret. As she belts out lines like "Her butt definitely totes so much bigger than mine!," her humor is fueled by sheer authenticity. The ease with which the audience can relate to the campers adds to the fun, and the content is accessible to those from all weight classes and walks of life.
The campers form bonds and break rules, helping each other reach goal weight, but the relationship between the two counselors distracts from the rest of the plot. Sandy and Mike, played by Sarah Saltzberg and Clarke Thorell, repeatedly draw laughs with their songs about camp rules and their enthusiasm for fitness. But when Mike becomes a villain, the confusing twist comes out of nowhere.
Aside from this one caveat, "Fat Camp" is a fun-filled, nonfat-tastic show guaranteed to delight audiences with its humor and plus-size talent. Hopefully, the fictional Camp Overton will find a new home when the festival closes later this month.
Presented by Michael Minarik and Eleven Entertainment as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival at the Acorn Theater at Theater Row, 410 W. 42nd St., NYC. Oct. 2–8. Remaining performances: Wed., Oct. 7, 9 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 8, 1 and 5 p.m. (866) 811-4111 or www.nymf.org. Casting by Michael Cassara.