Oral History: “Happy Camper”

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Capping off a magnificent season of milestones and record-breaking attendance, Oral Fixation’s fourth season went out in style with a powerhouse cast of storytellers for “Happy Camper.”

OF_HappyCamper-Wyly 43 Ryan Gifford-Robinson
Ryan Gifford-Robinson performs in “Happy Camper” at the Wyly Theatre

The compassionate Ryan Gifford-Robinson delivered an impactful story of working at a camp for disabled youth, an experience that profoundly impacted his view of the world. Though his connection with the boys, Ryan reminded us that some people’s dreams are as simple as getting to pee in the woods.

OF_HappyCamper-Wyly 55 Xuan Nguyen
Xuan Nguyen performs in “Happy Camper” at the Wyly Theatre

The adorably quirky Xuan Nguyen charmed the audience with her tale of growing up as a Vietnamese-American who longed for the normalcy of Lunchables and summer camp. When the self-described “weird kid” fulfilled her dream by attending a Vietnamese Catholic camp, though, it wasn’t everything she hoped it would be.

OF_HappyCamper-Wyly 77 Randy Brown
Randy Brown performs in “Happy Camper” at the Wyly Theatre

With a passionate love for the outdoors, the poised and eloquent Randy Brown invited the audience along for one of his adventures to the Grand Canyon, where he once found himself stranded without a lifeline.

OF_HappyCamper-Wyly 94 Nicole Stewart
Nicole Stewart performs in “Happy Camper” at the Wyly Theatre

Oral Fixation’s spirited leader, Nicole Stewart, reflected on a dark period of her youth when her desire to be tan, blonde and thin led to severe anorexia. After violating a rule at her beloved summer camp, Nicole bravely faced her demons head-on to forge a path to recovery from her eating disorder. In accepting the forgiveness of others, she was finally able to forgive herself.

OF_HappyCamper-Wyly 111 Charles Scudder
Charles Scudder performs in “Happy Camper” at the Wyly Theatre

Dallas Morning News reporter and avid camper, Charles Scudder, introduced the audience to Goatman, the campfire monster who haunted his dreams on camping trips as a child. Years later, when Charlie was assigned to write an article about the “Lake Worth Monster,” he entered the lion’s den and came face-to-face with the real life Goatman.

OF_HappyCamper-Wyly 128 Melissa Smrekar
Melissa Smrekar performs in “Happy Camper” at the Wyly Theatre

With her signature sarcasm and sass, veteran storyteller Melissa Smrekar returned to the stage with an uproarious tale of her complicated relationship with The Great Outdoors that left the audience buckling over in laughter. In telling the story of a mandatory eighth grade camping trip, Melissa revealed how she arrived at one of her life mantras: that it’s really liberating to say no to shit you hate.

OF_HappyCamper-Wyly 152 Ken Bethea
Ken Bethea performs in “Happy Camper” at the Wyly Theatre

Closing out the evening, Oral Fixation’s very own rockstar, Ken Bethea, took the stage with an inspiring story about going from “the copy man” to a bona fide rock star in less than three years. In peeling back the curtain of how he formed the Old 97’s, Ken reminded the audience that, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

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After the show, audience members flooded the theater lobby to congratulate the cast on what many people called “the best Oral Fixation show ever.” It truly was a hilarious and inspiring evening that both encouraged and challenged attendees to consider: what story will you tell?

Watch for videos from the Wyly Theatre performance and check out more photos on our Facebook page.

Don’t miss out on our upcoming DMA Arts&Letters Live in collaboration with Soluna show, “Destination America.” And keep your eyes peeled for the announcement of the return of Oral Fixation for Season Five in the coming months.

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