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‘Deer Camp’ ... the musical

Learn what really happens at deer camp

October 30, 2011
By JESSICA WELSHANS ( , Williamsport Sun-Gazette

What happens at deer camp won't stay there anymore - "Deer Camp the Musical" is coming to the stage of the Community Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

The show is described by Tony Papenfuss, who plays Doogski, as an expose of what sometimes goes on when hunting season rolls around and men retreat to their cabins in the woods.

The story: Four friends go to deer camp every year, but seem to never come back with any deer.

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Papenfuss said that the women in their lives get wind of what might be going on. The mighty hunters may not actually be going out hunting, but instead shooting the bull and drinking beer. So, the women are fed up and the men are given an ultimatum: No deer this year, no camp next year.

This area of Penn Woods is sure full of deer camps and Papenfuss said that sportsmen here could probably really relate to the show.

"People who spend their time every year in deer camps will enjoy this show," he said. "They come back laughing like crazy and tell us that its more like their camp than we probably realize."

Papenfuss said sometimes out at deer camp - like the one in the musical - there is a lot more male bonding in the camp than there is sitting out in a tree stand freezing one's butt off.

He said the audience can really connect with the characters, too.

"We have quite a few avid hunters - for several of our performances we look out and see a flash of camo and orange," Papenfuss said. "They are hardcore and dressed for the occasion. People have said they have some guy in their shack that is just like a character in the musical."

The female crowd doesn't have to feel left out, Papenfuss said sometimes the women that are in the audience enjoy it more.

"There is plenty to entertain anyone, especially if you have a husband or brother or anyone they can relate this to," he said.

He said the women tell him that this is what they thought has been going on all a long and it makes him laugh.

"They seem to have more fun than the men do," he laughed. "It is sort of poking fun at their husband, like a man-of-the-woods thing."

With the song titles along, one can imagine the story these actors are telling: "Rivers Of Brew," "Mighty Hunters," "Grunt Horn Song" and "She's Playing Bingo," among the few.

Papenfuss said the songs are humorous ways for the deer camp men to complain about their wives and whats going on in life.

"They are serious heartfelt ballads," he joked.

Papenfuss agrees that a show - or a musical, no less - about a deer camp is pretty unusual, but he points out that plays like "Deer Camp the Musical" about local people and regionalism have been springing up now for the past 10 years.

"People are looking and laughing more at themselves and getting heartwarmed about each other," he said.

Its subjects - like a regular guy who ice fishes rather than a Scottish king who existed thousands of years ago - is what Papenfuss said people are really enjoying.

"Its about exploring their own culture and what makes good people ... what makes us, us," he said, and added that this is why deer camps are perfect for a show like this.

Papenfuss said he remembers when he was in his late 20s-early 30s, he would go off with his buddies to a cabin, "We would drink a lot of beer and tell a lot of stories, so I know what it is like to be together in a group of guys and being men."

He said that it's personal experiences like that that he uses as inspiration for acting in a show like this on stage.

This will be "Deer Camp the Musical" 's first time this far east. The show actually started out very small in Minnesota and since then, it has grown. Papenfuss said that he is looking forward to doing shows further east of those mid-western and some southern states.

"It's new territory and we are really looking forward to it," he said.



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