Day: February 16, 2024

The Legendary Stagedoor Manor: A Theater Camp for Kids in the Catskill Mountains.

The Stagedoor Manor Documentary

In the Catskill Mountains, Stagedoor Manor is a theater camp for kids who want to make it in show business. The camp, which inspired Todd Graff’s indie cult classic Camp and a new documentary from Alexandra Shiva, provides kids with once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunities.

Kids hone their skills while putting on three productions in just a few weeks at the former Catskill Borscht Belt resort Karmel Hotel in Loch Sheldrake, New York.

What is Stagedoor Manor?

Located in New York’s Catskill Mountains, nestled among the ruins of grand vacation resorts from another time is Stagedoor Manor, America’s premier theater camp for kids aged 10-18. Currently owned by daughters Cindy and Debra Samuelson, the camp has become famous through newsmagazine pieces and interviews of alumni like Natalie Portman and Robert Downey Jr.

Stagedoor is the only performing arts program of its kind. It is co-ed and offers total theater immersion in a professional summer stock setting. The camp has a long history of workshops with Broadway composers and producers. Recent projects include the world-premiere of High School Musical and special workshop productions of Avenue Q and Rent.

The film follows five kids, ages 8 to 14, through their daily routine of auditions, acting class, dress rehearsals and performances. The campers are challenged physically, emotionally and intellectually. Many are from disadvantaged backgrounds and some harbor dreams of becoming professional actors. They all have one thing in common – they love to sing and dance.

What are the Characteristics of Stagedoor Manor?

In the middle of the 20th century, the Catskill Mountains were an incredibly popular vacation destination. Several large hotel complexes were built and, over time, many have closed and been converted into summer retreats, camps, private schools, etc. Stagedoor Manor is one of those old hotel facilities.

It’s also where professional actors like Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jon Cryer and Glee’s Lea Michele got their start. And, it’s where casting directors come to find the next wave of Broadway stars.

Each summer, 280 kids ages 10 to 18 participate in three three-week sessions. They mount 14 full-scale productions in eight onsite venues, including two proscenium theaters, a theater-in-the-round and two black boxes, plus a natural outdoor amphitheater.

In addition to training the next generation of performers, Stagedoor is a laboratory for major entertainment companies. For example, when MTI High School Musicals needed to workshop a new version of Sweeney Todd, they took it to Stagedoor for a trial run.

What are the Benefits of Stagedoor Manor?

Since 1976, Stagedoor Manor has offered a total theater immersion experience in the Catskill Mountains for kids who want to pursue acting as a career. The summer camp teaches students of all ages the fundamentals of theatre with classes and rehearsals. The students then perform in 14 full-scale productions each three-week session. The school is run by a staff of professional teachers who demand adult-size dedication from their students.

Many of the young people who attend this program go on to become professionals in the field. The list of alumni includes actors like Natalie Portman, Jon Cryer and Lea Michele. Others are theatre composers and writers, including Jeanine Tesori, Rachel Chavkin and Todd Graff.

The salary range for employees at Stagedoor Manor is between $90,252 and $116,659 per year. This data is based on self-reported information from employees and estimates from industry analysts, as well as publicly available data sources. The estimates may include data from the BLS, company filings, proprietary data and more.

What are the Drawbacks of Stagedoor Manor?

Fans of Todd Graff’s endearing Camp will find a similarly warm welcome in Alexandra Shiva’s documentary about Stagedoor Manor, a legendary Catskills summer theater workshop that has served as the training ground for such star performers as Natalie Portman and Robert Downey Jr.

Pic follows a handful of kids through auditions, acting class, dress rehearsals and productions — all in three weeks. The doc only scratches the surface of their lives, but it’s goodhearted and agreeable throughout.

It also sounds an affectingly bittersweet note at the end, suggesting that spikes in self-esteem fueled by the Stagedoor experience may be short-lived. The kids will likely go on to face the real world of professional theater competition and rejection, if they’re lucky. Then again, there’s always next summer. The doc, produced by GQ editor Mickey Rapkin and directed by Shiva, features riveting stories from Nicole Doring, a self-deprecating would-be comedienne; Taylor Rabow, a take-charge girl who’s been at the camp for nine of her 17 years; and Maddy Weinstein, an endearingly blunt 15-year-old.

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