Saturday, August 29, 2009

NY Fringe Festival Review: Camp Wanatachi: A New Musical

Camp Wanatachi: A New Musical
Presented by: Mercurial Productions
Writer: Book and Lyrics by Natalie Weiss, Music by Natalie Weiss, Conrad Winslow and Travis Stewart
Director: Natalie Weiss

What could be a fun parody of Christian summer camps, or summer camps of any kind, for that matter, veers off instead to reveal itself as a sad statement devaluing teen girls as suicidal or unable to contain their lust.

Jana (Aleque Reid) and Lauren (Samantha Daniel) are supposed to be BFFs, but the high-heel and short-short-wearing slutty Titi (Biet Simpkin) has a thing for Jana and keeps interfering. Titi comes on to the trying-so-very-hard-to-be-a-Christian Jana when she’s not having fun making life miserable for outsider Daisy (Amy Gironda) who sings a song about various ways she can commit suicide because she’s unhappy at the camp.

Meanwhile, director Corky (author Natalie Weiss) has the hots for Joel (Jonathon Roberts), but he’s been participating in a “True Love Waits” rally and has an accountability partner, so she’s not getting anywhere. Running around the camp are a couple of black-clad “hobos” (Jenny Lee Mitchell and Greg Couba, who also sports studs and nipple rings) very upset about walkie talkies for some reason.

The Fringe performance apparently is comprised of snippets from a full two-act musical of the same name. The snippets are enough to tell me that I have no desire to see more. The thrust of the satire seems to come from an edge dulled by arrogance, stereotype and a desire to cause injury instead of from a rapier wit sharpened by an intimate understanding of the subject. It scores a foul, rather than a touché.

The music, as described in the promotional material for the show, is “nostalgic” “super futuristic” with “sick beats.” I would describe it more as harsh, dissonant, cacophonic and really hard on the ear.


•More musicans than your typical fringe show.

• Sexually suggestive dialogue and lyrics
• Homosexuality
• Scantily-clad campers
• Language
• Corky gives her “testimony” at chapel including using the “F” word, saying she was stoned and explaining that God dropped a SP404 music playing device on her doorstep and threw a copy of >Ere Christianity” through her roof.
• Suicidal Daisy sings that she “had a talk with God” who told her that her parents should bring her home or he would bring her to his.

Christians might also like to know:• Language

Fringe Tassels Awarded: 1
VENUE #3: Dixon Place
See it again Sat 29 @ 3:15

--Lauren Yarger

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. and the Episcopal Actors' Guild.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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