Theater camp in the Catskills molds future stars.
Stagedoor Manor Camp Reviews
Located in the Catskills Borscht Belt, Loch Sheldrake, NY, Stagedoor Manor performing arts summer camp has helped mold a lot of stars. A number of these kids have gone on to fame in film, TV and theater.
This documentary tells the story of the camp via interviews with past and present students. Among them are Natalie Portman, Jon Cryer and Zach Braff.
Every summer, children from 24 countries and 46 states flock to a sleep-away camp in the woods of New York’s Catskill Mountains. It’s not exactly a vacation, though: Days and nights are spent furiously learning dialogue, tackling show tunes, and rehearsing. This is Stagedoor Manor, a theater camp famous for turning out kid actors with big-time Hollywood ambitions. Natalie Portman, Jon Cryer, Ansel Elgort, and Lea Michele are among its alumni. Agents often make the two-hour drive to Loch Sheldrake to scout for talent.
Written by Platt and Gordon with Noah Galvin and Nick Lieberman, this smart and savvy comedy is a funny look at the world of kids who take theatre very seriously. The movie may feel familiar to anyone who’s ever been to a sleep-away camp — especially one whose drama department is a little too much like Broadway. But Theater Geek isn’t cliched or trite; it’s pitch-perfect and laugh-out-loud funny, rampant with hyperspecific details that will resonate with any camper.
The Story of Stagedoor Manor
Before Glee and American Idol, there was Stagedoor Manor, the legendary upstate New York theater camp that embraced starry-eyed kids and helped them become working actors. Founded in 1975, the camp still draws scores of young performers each summer to its bucolic setting at Loch Sheldrake.
During each three-week session, Stagedoor produces nine musicals and five plays in its eight onsite venues (three proscenium theaters, one theater in the round, two black boxes and a natural outdoor amphitheater). The program is intense and magical and the teachers — all professional theatre artists — demand adult-size dedication from their students.
Alexandra Shiva’s documentary, based on her 2012 book, follows three seniors at the camp: Harry Katzman, an asthmatic who has an iPod that’s meticulously organized by West End and Broadway cast recordings; Rachel Singer, a 5’9″ blond with tremendous singing talent and self-confidence; and Brian Muller, a tall, talented actor who is also very shy. Throughout the film, the students move from rehearsal to class all day long, barely pausing to eat or rest.
Stagedoor Manor Camp
For more than 45 years, young people from all over the world have come to Stagedoor Manor to immerse themselves in the magic of theater. Located in upstate New York, the Performing Arts Training Center attracts kids who dream of making it big in the entertainment industry. Every three weeks, students work with professional directors to produce 14 full-scale musicals and plays. The program also offers over 60 beginning to advanced classes.
The real-life camp that inspired Todd Graff’s endearing Camp Ovation is the subject of Alexandra Shiva’s sloppy and only mildly engaging documentary, which follows a handful of kids through their summer productions at the famed Catskills workshop. Shiva has a sensitive eye for these rarefied outcasts, and she conveys universal verities through specific details.
But the movie wanders from scene to scene, and many of the vignettes feel too superficial and scattered to have much impact. Fortunately, some of the distinguished alumni interviewed for this film–including Natalie Portman, Robert Downey Jr., Zach Braff and Mandy Moore–weigh in with pithy recollections of their time at the camp.
Located in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, on the grounds of a former Catskills Borscht Belt resort (the Karmel Hotel) in Loch Sheldrake, Stagedoor Manor is America’s premier theater camp for children and teens. Founded in 1975, it shares its home in the fading heyday of the Borscht Belt with a die-hard year-round Hasidic Jewish community and an ever-growing stream of young people eager to find kindred spirits and maybe even stardom.
Carl and Elsie Samuelson’s daughter Cindy and her sister Debra had visited the camp often over the thirty years since their parents woke up one day and decided to start a theater camp. But when they took over in 1985, it was a whole new world.
With the help of expert businessman Jack Romano, they grew the camp into an enterprise that trained thousands of kids to become professional thespians—and sometimes even child stars. Along the way, Stagedoor forged deep relationships with many of its campers and their families.
Stagedoor Manor Camp Reviews Located in the Catskills Borscht Belt, Loch Sheldrake, NY, Stagedoor Manor performing arts summer camp has helped mold a lot of stars. A number of these kids have gone on to fame in film, TV and theater. This documentary tells the story of the camp via interviews with past and present…