Camp Morning Wood: Interview with writer Jay Falzone

Camp Morning Wood
"Camp Morning Wood" is a play by writer Jay Falzone.

“Camp Morning Wood” is a new play that tells the story of a gay couple that decides to escape the city for a weekend camping in the woods to reconnect and unplug but get caught up in an adventure they never expected. Fun and campy with s vintage flair, this show is a crowd-pleasing off-Broadway musical that celebrates a message of unconditional love, perfect for the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and the year that World Pride comes to New York.

“Camp Morning Wood” will be having a limited run opening June 6th thru July 7th at The Theater Center (210 West 50th St.).

Writer Jay Falzone recently discussed his experiences writing and staging this play and his hopes for its future.

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get involved with the theater and how did you get the idea for “Camp Morning Wood”?

Jay Falzone (JF): It was a summer theatre camp I went to when I was 10 and I’ve been doing it ever since.  I started professional gigs when I was 14 and I started writing plays when I was 11. My 4th grade class actually did a play I wrote; it was something about a robot but I forget the details. The idea for “Camp Morning Wood” came from Marc, the director. He had wanted to do a musical comedy about a nudist camp. The original idea was actually a co-ed nudist camp, but in the spirit of “writing what you know,” we decided to go with an all-male gay nudist camp.

MM: What most intrigues you about writing comedy and how would you describe the tone of this show?

JF: I’ve always loved the transcending power of comedy. I have great admiration for anyone that faces and survives adversity with humor and hilarity. The uniting force of comedy is so empowering and if done correctly, challenging. Nothing pleases me more than comedy with an edge and danger. The tone of CAMP MORNING WOOD is total camp, pun intended. It’s ridiculous, irreverent, and riotous. There’s an innocent naughtiness to the whole experience that is simultaneously titillating and sweet.

MM: Are you planning to put this info full production soon?

JF: We’ll be starting previews off-Broadway at the Theater Center on West 50th this May 29th. It’s a limited run that plays through World Pride, but we’re confident that the show will catch on and be a NYC staple. It’s hard to reduce the process into a quick rundown of what happens. As the writer, I work closely with the director – Marc – and our dramaturg – Hazel – to craft the story and the script.  Between the first draft and the show that we’re rehearsing now, we’ve added a conservative Senator as a villain, eliminated a couple mistaken identities, and added an intermission…not to mention rewriting 4 songs and cutting 5 others.

MM: What was do you think would be most challenging about staying this piece in full?

JF: You want the nudity to have a playfulness that doesn’t actually seem gratuitous. I know, it seems almost ridiculous to say in “a VERY naked musical,” but we’ve worked very hard to make the nudity fun and just on this side of bawdy. Our challenge is to make the story, songs, and dialogue engaging enough that the audiences very often forget that the guys are naked and just invest in what they’re saying or doing.

MM: What is it about this play that you think will most interest audiences?

JF: We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback regarding the show’s message and relevance. We make some funny but poignant political statements as well as remind everyone to look up from their phone and see the person right in front of them.

MM: What other theatrical projects are you working on this year?

JF: I’ve been writing and touring with The Calamari Sisters (about two plus size Italian sisters from Brooklyn who sing, dance, and cook together) since 2009 so I have a bunch of dates for that. I’m directing & choreographing NEWSIES in August/September.  I’m also writing book & lyrics for a new musical called FAT KID RULES THE WORLD, which is Broadway bound.

MM: Is there anything else that you would like to talk about?

JF: Just that CAMP MORNING WOOD isn’t about nudity.  It’s about freedom and self-expression no matter who you are. We tried very hard not only to represent different body types and sexualities and relationships but to celebrate them. The fact is that for most people, being naked is still a hugely vulnerable, yet freeing, experience. To embrace that vulnerability and become comfortable with who you are, both physically and emotionally, is a really beautiful thing.  Being able to explore all that with a campy, hilarious comedy like CAMP MORNING WOOD is a dream!

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To learn more, visit the official website.