Home Entertainment ‘Camp Little Falls’ Pays Electrifying Homage to 80s Slasher Films

‘Camp Little Falls’ Pays Electrifying Homage to 80s Slasher Films

by Megan Lim

How many different dance numbers can be used to portray a serial killer murdering someone? The question is answered in Players: A Programming Board of the SGA’s production, “Camp Little Falls.”

Being performed March 17 to 19 in the Student Center Nest, “Camp Little Falls” is a 1980s slasher film-themed dance show that follows about 20 teenage camp counselors, who after an intoxicated night, find the number of their staff quickly dwindling at the hands of a killer.

Audience members sit along for the ride as they wait to see which characters make it out alive, reminiscent of how it feels to watch a classic, old-school thriller, complete with all the known tropes, from a promiscuous girl with nothing but boys on her mind to the camp sweetheart everyone likes.

The story comes from the minds of co-directors Cole Vitelli, a sophomore psychology major, and Jordan Fiorentino, a sophomore family science and human development major. Together, using what Fiorentino calls “the same brain cell,” the duo created a student-run performance consisting of electric original choreography.

Katie Lawrence | The Montclarion

Cole Vitelli (left) and Jordan Fiorentino (center) are co-directors of the show while Nathalia Daza (right) is the stage manager and dance captain. Katie Lawrence | The Montclarion

Different from dance shows in the past, Vitelli and Fiorentino decided to leave their creative mark this year by also adding very short scenes of dialogue between each dance number. This was to help the audience not only better understand the narrative but also become more engulfed in it, according to Vitelli.

“We wanted to sort of invite people into our world and say, ‘Oh, here’s all these really awesome dances that are super fun and campy, but here’s also a story for you to cling onto,’” Vitelli said. “I think that our goal was to make it feel like you’re at home watching a horror movie with your friends with some popcorn, and you’re rooting for the characters and having a scene [with] these dialogues and all of the people be not just performers, but characters that you [get attached] to.”

Cole Vitelli is co-director of "Camp Little Falls." Katie Lawrence | The Montclarion

Cole Vitelli was inspired by classic 1980s slasher films throughout the creation of "Camp Little Falls."
Katie Lawrence | The Montclarion

The newly added dialogue in this year’s show is just enough to provide audience members with context to understand how the plot is moving forward, but the dynamic dances are truly the heart of the production. With a variety of songs that allow for a range of dances, whether that be tap, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop or finger tutting, viewers can expect a roller-coaster of emotions as they watch “Camp Little Falls” unfold. They’ll be partying with the camp counselors to Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” in one scene then holding their breath to R!ch BOY’s “Your Favorite Scary Movie” the next, creating an addicting back-and-forth of anticipation, fear and elation that stays until you leave the show.

Freshman social media and public relations major Sofia Salerno, who plays counselor Brandy, also known as “The Prep,” hoped audience members would walk away with just that.

“Hopefully they’ll be a little scared,” Salerno said. “That would be pretty cool – as well as have a new appreciation for dance in the way that it can be [used to tell] stories.”

Katie Lawrence | The Montclarion

The camp counselors gather around a fire to tell scary stories.
Katie Lawrence | The Montclarion

The characters themselves are also essential to the show’s storyline and level of enjoyment. Many cast members were given the opportunity to choose their on-stage persona, including their character’s name and distinctive personality traits to be maintained throughout the performance. Each performer held their own, as a quick scan across each person in a scene revealed dramatic facial expressions and consistent mannerisms that force the audience’s eyes to stay glued to the action.

“You’re meant to get invested in all the characters,” Fiorentino said. “And I hope [people make] a connection to one of the characters because all of them are so different in their own way.”

Katie Lawrence | The Montclarion

Simple set designs and props were utilized throughout the show.
Katie Lawrence | The Montclarion

Though all have very individual quirks, the cast comes together to create an immersive experience that brings the audience into the fun and terror of the killing spree. Viewers are kept engaged as actors move about the Nest, in some scenes taking time to interact with those watching, effectively keeping them on their toes and making them feel a part of the show.

The crowd is also visually roped into the 1980s glam that adorns the cast. The simple set design allows for greater focus on the dances as well as the costumes, hair and makeup. Everyone is neat and tidy in their camp t-shirts and tube socks but accessorized with 80’s memorabilia, from multi-colored scrunchies and suspenders to bright eyeshadow and voluminous hair, pointing back to the vibrancy of the decade.

Stage manager and dance captain Nathalia Daza, a senior theatre studies major, worked to bring Vitelli and Fiorentino’s vision of paying homage to 1980s slashers to life, a task she said she enjoyed.

“The [1980s were] a great time,” Daza said. “It was a great era. You know, I’m such an oldie myself, even though I was born in 2000. I enjoy history, so I think we need to bring back poofy hairstyles and mismatched color outfits. Maybe with this show, we can create a comeback soon.”

With its intoxicating energy and gripping choreography, it’s likely that “Camp Little Falls” will leave the audience nostalgic for a decade they may not have even been alive for.

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