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August 1, 2017
NYMF Review: Camp Wanatachi: In Concert
Marissa O'Donnell. Photo by Ian Pai.

Lesbian love at a repressed Jesus camp? No one could have seen that one coming! Director Mia Walker stages a concert version of the 2009 electro-musical Camp Wanatachi for the 2017 New York Musical Festival (NYMF) at The Green Room 42 @ Yotel, and gets everyone in the mood for archery, bonfires and love. Part camp, part satire and bursting with teenage hormones, Camp Wanatachi is an exploration of first love and heartbreak at an all-girls Christian sleepaway camp.

Camp Wanatachi follows the sexual awakening of Jana (Marissa O’Donnell) during one very memorable summer at Camp Wanatachi. The object of Jana’s infatuation is sexually advanced Titi (Jillian Mueller), the beautiful and sophisticated new girl who shocks her fellow campers with unabashed talk of oral sex and riding bareback (horses, of course). The rest of the “tribe” includes Jana’s “BFF for life” Lauren (Keaton Whittaker), a cheerleader with a jealous streak, Gothic “freak for Jesus” Daisy (Remy Zaken), and two unnamed Tribe members (Liz Byrne and Hannah Delmonte).

While the other campers are busy making virginity pledges and gathering golden feathers to win the coveted Wanatachi Princess title, Jana and Titi get busy mooning over each other and declaring their undying love. It’s easy to get caught up in the overpowering teenage lust because the actors do a great job of bringing it to life. Anyone who’s crushed on the person they shouldn’t be crushing on will be able to relate.

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Mirroring the not-so-chaste love between the two girls is a sputtering romance between a counselor from the girls camp and one from the boys side. The spirited Corky (Sami Gayle) and guitar playing Joel (Travis Artz) have been enjoying a dalliance that led to one shameful night in the Six Flags handicap restroom. Of course, the most righteous are the ones with the most skeletons in the closet.

With a book by Bekah Brunstetter and Natalie Elizabeth Weiss and music/lyrics by Weiss, Camp Wanatachi is fun to watch and has performances that will send chills down your spine, especially those by O’Donnell and Mueller, two vocal powerhouses. Although the vocals are often drowned out by a regrettable echo-like microphone effect, you get the idea that these are well-trained voices.

Even though Camp Wanatachi: In Concert is not a fully staged musical, the performers, including a six-piece orchestra plus beats by Travis Stewart aka Machinedrum, fill the intimate setting with music and dance and do a fine job telling the story of a budding romance set to a catchy electronic-pop score. It will make you feel like a kid at summer camp.

Connected Post:

thEATer – NYMF Edition! NYMF Actors Remy Zaken, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, and Emily Skeggs on Their Favorite Eats in the Theater District

By Ariana Rudes

Every summer, the Midtown theater scene grows exponentially with the return of the New York Musical Festival, commonly known as NYMF. During this exciting time of year, the theater district is flooded with up-and-coming composers and playwrights, and actors both new to the scene and already beloved among Broadway fans, presenting new musical theater works in establishments across the Theater District. In this edition of thEATer, we’ve chatted with three stars of NYMF productions, Remy Zaken (Spring Awakening, Dear Evan Hansen) of Camp Wanatachi, Wilson Jermaine Heredia (the original Angel in Rent) of Pedro Pan, and Emily Skeggs (Medium Alison in Fun Home) of The Shakespearean Jazz Show, about their favorite theater district eats. Check out their answers below! EMILY SKEGGS: Post-show hang out? I love the couches at the bar in the lobby of Citizen M. It’s super comfy, they make great, big drinks, it’s usually not crowded at all. Great place to wind down and catch up with friends after a show, and if it’s a nice night you can sit in the courtyard. Best part about it? They have Cards Against Humanity. Dinner with the family before a show? I like to keep it light before shows. Thalia o …Read more

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Written by: Tami Shaloum
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