There’s a lot to love in this peppy pop-rock tuner, first seen at the New York Musical Theatre Festival a few years back. Lest you think this is Biggest Loser: The Musical, there’s little weight loss going on here. Instead, plus-size boys and girls with even broader personalities flirt, bond, hook up, break up and learn to accept themselves, stretch marks and all.
Rocker Robert (the charismatic Daniel Everidge in full Meatloaf mode) insists he’s happy the way he is and quickly becomes the cool guy at a camp for obese teens. But when he falls for nice girl Taylor (Molly Hager), Robert’s vulnerability starts to show. Meanwhile, Taylor’s floozy roomie (an uproarious Carly Jibson) lands Darnell (Larry Owens), and Harry Potter–obsessed geek Anshel (Cale Krise) is the proverbial third wheel. There are also villains, of course, mostly thin bullies who get their comeuppance in the end.
Aside from a few inevitable sight gags (Jibson rolling off the bunk bed; Owens’s man-bra), the characters’ girth is irrelevant. Like Wicked, Hairspray or any other coming-of-age musical, Fat Camp is about outsiders searching for happiness and love. Yes, the book is silly and predictable, and the roles are stereotypes, but Matthew roi Berger and Randy Blair’s catchy songs are humorous and heartfelt, and every single person in the cast seems to be having a blast. Like fattening foods, it’s hard to resist.—Raven Snook