You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Off Broadway Review: ‘Gigantic’

Max Wilcox, Ryann Redmond, Jared Loftin, Larry Owens, Bonnie Milligan, Leslie Kritzer, Burke Moses.

Under the far better title of “Fat Camp,” “Gigantic” won the Best of Fest Award at the 2009 New York Musical Theater Festival. The perky charms of this offbeat musical, penned by Randy Blair and Tim Drucker, are obvious. The music (by Matthew roi Berger) is upbeat, the lyrics (by Blair) are funny, and the direction (by Scott Schwartz) is quick and clever. The show’s flaws — the book is overwritten and the songs are monotonous — are also conspicuous in this Vineyard Theater production, but the cast is so cute and so committed to their roles, they make it fun.

Camp Overton, where a busload of chunky teenagers is dropped off without much ado, is no ordinary summer camp, but the #3 Weight Loss Camp in Southern Pennsylvania. It’s a ramshackle place, run by a couple of horny and insanely manic counselors, Sandy (Leslie Kritzer) and Mike (Burke Moses).  But the rules are few — #1 is “No smuggling contraband. No heroin or Ho-Ho’s” — and seem reasonable.

The kids aren’t exactly overjoyed to be at this baby-fat farm. Some of them were marched off by their parents. Others were tricked, like nerdy Anshel (Jared Loftin), who thought he was headed to Star Wars Camp. Daphne (Bonnie Milligan) is back for her third try and resigned to a third failure.

Only pert and pretty Taylor (pert and pretty Ryann Redmond) is actively engaged with the aim of the camp, hoping to “make the old me disappear” through diet and exercise. Everybody likes Taylor, even cynical Daphne, who admires her pluck and innocence.  (“Like me, before my first DUI.”)

The camp bad boy is Robert Grisetti (Max Wilcox, with charm to burn), the star of the show and a nice match for Redmond’s Taylor. Shipped off to Camp Overton by “Evil Dick the Destroyer … the Crusher of Dreams … My dad,” Robert is determined to get himself thrown out of camp and sent home. To this end, he sells contraband candy, undermines camp rules, and basically stages a revolution.

“It’s true! / I’m fat! / And I fail to see / What’s wrong with that!” he preaches, in one of the show’s better numbers. As a catalyst for chaos, he’s absolutely on target.  He’s also talky, which is the main problem with the show. The songs go on and on, repeating sentiments that have already been heard. Plot points that could be made in a couple of lines of dialogue are stretched into entirely superfluous scenes. And even stray thoughts are over-developed into lengthy songs.

It’s the blubber in the writing that needs to be trimmed away at this fat camp.

Off Broadway Review: 'Gigantic'

Acorn Theater on Theater Row; 199 seats; $85 top. Opened Dec. 3, 2015. Reviewed Nov. 28. Running time: TWO HOURS, 20 MIN.

Production: A Vineyard Theater presentation of a New York Musical Theater Festival production of a musical in two acts with book by Randy Blair & Tim Drucker; music by Matthew roi Berger; lyrics by Randy Blair.

Creative: Directed by Scott Schwartz. Choreographed by Chase Brock. Music arranged & orchestrated by Dominick Amendum. Sets, Timothy R. Mackabee; costumes, Gregory Gale; lighting, Jeff Croiter; sound, John Shivers & David Patridge; music director, Aaron Jodoin; hair & makeup, Leah J. Loukas; production stage manager, Christine Catti.

Cast: Max Wilcox, Ryann Redmond, Jared Loftin, Larry Owens, Bonnie Milligan, Leslie Kritzer, Burke Moses.

More Legit

  • Richard E Grant Everybody's Talking About

    Richard E. Grant to Play Former Drag Queen in 'Everybody's Talking About Jamie'

    Oscar-nominated actor Richard E. Grant will portray a former drag queen and mentor in “Everybody’s Talking About Jamie,” the movie adaptation of the British stage musical. “Catastrophe” co-creator and star Sharon Horgan and “Happy Valley” star Sarah Lancashire have also joined the film. Max Harwood will play the titular role of Jamie, a role inspired [...]

  • The Secret Life of Bees review

    Off Broadway Review: 'The Secret Life of Bees'

    There’s a sweet sense of sisterhood that’s simply divine in “The Secret Life of Bees,” the heartwarming new musical at the Atlantic Theater Company based on Sue Monk Kidd’s bestselling 2002 coming-of-age novel, set in South Carolina in 1964 amid Civil Rights struggles. (A 2008 film adaptation starred Dakota Fanning and Queen Latifah.) The feeling [...]

  • 10 Comics to Watch

    Variety Announces 10 Comics to Watch for 2019

    Variety has chosen its 10 Comics to Watch for 2019. The honorees will be profiled in the July 18 issue of Variety and at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal at a cocktail party on Thursday, July 25, followed by a panel and showcase on Friday, July 26. The events are sponsored by Cohen & Gardner LLP. The [...]

  • Vanessa Hudgens So You Think You

    Vanessa Hudgens, Hailey Kilgore to Star in Reading of 'The Notebook' Musical

    Vanessa Hudgens and Tony-nominee Hailey Kilgore are joining an upcoming reading of Ingrid Michaelson’s stage adaptation of “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks. Tony nominee Michael Greif is set to direct the reading, which will open June 23 at Vassar College’s Martel Theater as part of their Powerhouse Theater season. Kilgore will star as the younger [...]

  • Moulin Rouge director Alex Timbers

    'Beetlejuice,' 'Moulin Rouge!' Director Alex Timbers on Creating Worlds on Broadway

    In the past year, Alex Timbers has directed the Tony-nominated “Beetlejuice” and the stage adaptation of “Moulin Rouge!” (which begins previews June 28 at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre). Here, he reflects on his most recent projects and the challenges of bringing two iconic movie musicals to Broadway within a year.  Both your musicals live in [...]

  • Actor Anthony Ramos Signs With Republic

    Actor Anthony Ramos Signs With Republic Records (EXCLUSIVE)

    Singer-songwriter and actor Anthony Ramos, known for his roles in “Hamilton” and “A Star Is Born,” has signed with Republic Records, the company announced today. Ramos will release his forthcoming debut album later this year, with new music expected this summer. Footage from the signing aired on his YouTube series today. “Anthony is a true [...]

  • Much Ado About Nothing review

    Shakespeare in the Park Review: Danielle Brooks in 'Much Ado About Nothing'

    The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park productions can be provocative, irritating, enlightening or maddening, but they are always fun. In his new staging of “Much Ado About Nothing” with a cast led by Danielle Brooks, director Kenny Leon (“A Raisin in the Sun,” “American Son”) delivers the fun in a slaphappy, dance-crazy version [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content