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By David Gordon
The hormones are in full force in Camp Rolling Hills, a truly delightful new musical about pre-teens navigating the choppy waters of romance at sleepaway camp. The book (by David Spiegel and Stacy Davidowitz) and score (by the pair in addition to David's brother Adam Spiegel) shows a great deal of promise, with a sensibility that appeals to adults just as much as youngsters.
While the cast is made up almost entirely of kids, Camp Rolling Hills is a show with a distinctly grown-up sense of humor. Spiegel and Davidowitz's book is deliciously tongue-in-cheek, while their lyrics are super smart (case in point: a song called "Chicks Before Boys," sung after one of the girls has her heart broken by a boy back home). Adam Spiegel provides a jazzy score that's very likable.
Director Jill Jaysen is perfectly in tune with the subversive sense of humor of the authors. As a result, she guides her young cast to outstanding performances. As the romantic leads, Ignacio and Tulchin make a lovely pair. Their work is even more commendable, considering how young they are, when we realize how invested we are of their puppy love working out. In the main supporting role, Sophia Gennusa (one of the original Tony-honored Matildas) is superbly funny, with a line delivery wise beyond her years.
With such enthusiasm from the rest of its young cast, Camp Rolling Hills is the place to be. It takes us back to our glory days of summer, when all we wanted to do was hang out, make friends, and have a lot of laughs along the way.