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'Gigantic' review: A fun, weighty teen musical

Max Wilcox, center, and the cast of

Max Wilcox, center, and the cast of "Gigantic." Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg

Considering the success of "High School Musical" and "Glee," it's surprising that a musical or some other franchise hasn't already come along about teens at a summer camp.

Taking advantage of that overlooked opportunity is "Gigantic," a clunky but cute, feel-good musical about the campers and counselors of a Pennsylvania weight loss camp, which was previously produced in New York under the title "Fat Camp." For children of the 1990s, it brings back memories of the Disney film "Heavyweights."

"Gigantic" centers on new camper Robert (Max Wilcox), who stands out from his geeky, misfit peers thanks to a confident, rebellious aura, and who intends to kindle romance with fellow teen Taylor (Ryann Redmond).

His rise up the social ladder is disrupted by the arrival of a cheerleader (Taylor Louderman) from his high school, who Robert had previously bragged was his former girlfriend. She informs everyone that Robert is a laughingstock back at home thanks to an embarrassing YouTube video. But as you can probably guess, it all ends happily.

The pop-rock songs are generic but have a lot of drive behind them. The storyline is messy and the humor is often strained - although a "Hamilton"-inspired mini-musical about President William Howard Taft is a hoot, as is "The Crucible" retold as a cheerleading routine.

Wilcox has genuine charisma in the lead, while Redmond makes for an assertive counterpart. Leslie Kritzer gleefully plays up her supporting role as an eccentric, jumpsuit-wearing camp counselor.

Regardless of how it fares here, "Gigantic" ought to be popular with youth performing arts groups and, needless to say, summer camps. It's also nice to see a musical with many roles for young overweight actors. Take that "Hairspray"!

If you go: "Gigantic" plays at Theater Row through Dec. 20. 410 W. 42nd St. vineyardtheatre.org.

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