Natalie Weiss – Camp Wanatachi
By: Paige Zinaman
Q) What can you tell us about the premise for Camp Wanatachi and what inspired you to write this as a musical?
A) CAMP WANATACHI is about two girls that fall involve at Christian summer camp. I had my first sexual experience with another girl in a summer camp bunk bed and it was the inspiration for the story. I actually went back to that same camp as a counselor and had a romantic relationship with a guy counselor at the boy’s camp across the lake. That made it into the story too, the heterosexual plot is the B-story while the lesbian love is the A-story.
Q) Camp Wanatachi explores this journey of sexual discovery in an all-female Christian summer camp, what do you hope the audience takes away from this musical?
A) I hope that the audience takes away what I have come to believe in my life – that there is NO FEAR IN LOVE. That’s the name of our show’s finale: “No Fear In Love.” True love banishes fear and we see that manifested in the journeys of our characters.
Q) You’re currently running an Indiegogo for Camp Wanatachi, besides donating what can supporters do to support the musical?
A) Come see the show! They can buy tickets at nymf.org/wanatachi.
Q) How is Camp Wanatachi different from other shows that have been coming out of Broadway?
A) It’s a girl/girl Romeo and Juliet that doesn’t end in suicide! That hasn’t been a Broadway musical yet! Also, most American musicals and written and directed by men – even musicals about women like Warpaint were written by men. CAMP WANATACHI was written and composed by women, will be directed by a woman, music directed by a woman and seven out of eight cast members are women. Plus, the sound is totally new and fresh, it’s an electro-musical that features sick beats by Kanye West beat-maker Machinedrum with new music orchestrations that will be played by an onstage orchestral ensemble.
Q)Having Emily Marshall (National Tours of A Chorus Line and We Will Rock You) what can audience expect from the music?
A) Emily Marshall is actually no longer with the show, our new Music Director is Fernanda Douglas. She is a young genius composer and conductor who will be DJing the beats live onstage all while conducting our orchestral ensemble! She just graduated from Columbia and is diving in like a star. #pro
Q) Camp Wanatachi is going to be an all-female production, how does this break the stereotype of typical productions and why was this important?
A) We actually do have one guy in the cast and I’m thrilled that it is played by Billy Lewis, Jr. from Fox’s hit show “Glee.” I have tried to create a really three dimensional character with him. I added an extra song to our upcoming concert to help show where he is coming from and why he is so obsessed with saving sex for marriage.
Q) Working with women like Mia Walker and Bridget Regan, what has been something you’ve learned along this journey with them? How have they inspired you?
A) Mia is a woman: she used to be a young girl so she totally gets young girls; it’s fun to see her reveling in the teenage antics of these characters. It’s a girl/girl Romeo and Juliet that doesn’t end in suicide! She is also nonjudgmental of the material. If a director goes into the show judging the fire everyone has for Jesus we are screwed. Mia approaches it with a lot of respect for the culture and for me as an artist. I really enjoy talking with Mia about the show and hope to work with her in lots of stuff in the future. Now about QUEEN Bridget Regan. Bridget’s faith in CAMP WANATACHI is mind blowing and she has the most devoted queer-positive fans in the world. To see them rise up and help us reach 106% of our fundraising goal is awe-inspiring.
Q) In today’s society, there isn’t much light shown on the LGBTQ+ in a positive way, going into creating this musical were there any challenges you’ve faced that made you second guess the production?
A) Well we are in New York where being gay is very common and being out is no big deal. The challenge for us is to remember how difficult it is for teens to come out in other parts of the America and the world. A number of our fundraising supporters were not out to their families or had come out to their families and were shunned because of it. Seeing what they call “f/f” that is, female/female representation in a musical, is very important to these young people. I had some fear about my camp friends knowing I had gotten with another girl camper when I was young (I am asked about this a lot from the press) but my camp friends, who I have stayed connected with a lot through Facebook, have been very supportive.
Q) Is it safe to say that Camp Wanatachi will be pushing the envelope of love and religion that’s still an ongoing struggle today?
A) I want to present gay inclusion as a norm in evangelical Christianity and in all religions.
Q) When the musical does get funded, what other avenues will the production pursue for a wider audience?
A) We are going to get potential producers in to see the concert to help take it to the next level – either as a musical or as a feature film.
Q) Is there anything else about the musical that you’d like people to know?
A) Tickets are on sale at nymf.org/wanatachi. It’s worth a trip to New York! NYC is amazing in the summer