Disney’s Camp Rock may not have been as big of a smash hit as it’s predecessor, High School Musical, but it did have enough popularity to spawn a sequel and introduce the world to the likes of the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lavato. The good thing about Camp Rock is that Disney’s offering of the AmDram rights to groups allows for upcoming performers, singers, dancers and musicians to (for the next 1-2 hours) be their own Demi Lovato or Jonas Brother.
Chelmsford-based AmDram kids theatre group “Offspringers” opened their performance of Disney’s Camp Rock at the Cramphorn Theatre this week, with enthusiastic audiences flocking to see these kids rock, and at times they really do!
Camp Rock follows the story of a group of American campers returning to their summer camp, Camp Rock, ready for a summer filled of song, dance and lifelong friendships. Only this time Camp Rock has to compete with the rival camp from across the lake, Camp Star. The end result is a musical show down, who will win and be the ultimate camp?
The show follows what any audience should expect from a Disney film, cheesy one-liners, adorable comic characters, teenage romances and a good old rivalry that ends in back-to-back musical numbers.
Directors Catherine Gregory and Matt Smith utilised the show well and ensured that each child had their own moment to have some fun and interact with each other on stage. Their choice for the set (with a large projection screen across the stage between two “cabin doors”) was most effective.
Brett Anthony’s choreography was perfectly matched to the show. Never too boring to suit the musical numbers and didn’t go above the abilities of the cast he was working with but instead pushed them to perform as a group – especially the much younger ones who were having a blast with the harder routines.
Musical Director, Ian Meyer’s band were hidden behind the projection sheet (however we did see them projected in the end) and accompanied the children’s developing singing voices well.
As Mitchie Torres, Lizzy Newsome brings bravado and a definite Lovado-esque quality to her character, with a confident singing voice and strong character work, Newsome shows herself as more than capable to carry the rest of the campers throughout the show.
Newsome’s love interest Aaron Bell, who plays young teenage rock icon Shane Gray, is just as confident in his role. Bell took a while to warm up as Shane Gray but as the show progressed his character become stronger and more defined. Bell’s low, husky singing voice suited some of Gray’s more “love song” duets with Newsome. Newsome and Bell’s harmonious duet “Wouldn’t Change a thing” was a particular highlight from the two leads.
The rest of the campers had their own time to shine throughout the show in their various roles. Ore Kane as Nate Gray and his impressive guitar skills could have been more utilised as this is where he seemed most at ease. Max Eagle as the third (and most entertaining) Gray, Max, had perfect comedic timing and proved to be a crowd favourite.
Tullulah Hemmings and Haydn Hemmings as Tess Tyler and Luke Williams, the shows rival campers, worked their own levels of snobbishness and bickering as they fought for the spotlight.
Isabelle Gooding as Dana Turner was particularly interesting to watch and left me wanting to see more of her character. The utilisation of her playing piano against Ore Kane’s guitar was the shows favourite number by the crowd.
Whilst I wish I could discuss the rest of the cast, this blog could go on for a while so I’ll summarise by saying it was a joy to see the group of young performers all enjoying their time at camp and each one brought something to the scenes they were in. If only the group as a whole spread out on stage and didn’t shy away from the audience until the very end, the rest of the show would have just as much energy.
May the rest of your show week really rock!
Stin’s Final Thought: I hope all summer camps are like this, I for one am going on one soon and if it ends in a musical number with the camp across the lake I’d be ecstatic.
Disney’s Camp Rock is playing at the Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford from Tuesday 13th – Saturday 17th March.
The adult society Springers will be performing Made in Dagenham at the Civic Theatre 13th – 16th June 2018. Tickets and information for both shows are below.