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Theater Geek: The Real Life Drama of a Summer at Stagedoor Manor, the Famous Performing Arts Camp Hardcover – June 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Stagedoor Manor is famous in the performing arts community for transforming young unknowns into the likes of Natalie Portman and Robert Downey, Jr., two previous participants. Rapkin, a senior editor at GQ, follows three campers as they rehearse for major roles in Sondheim shows and recounts the camp's storied history, complete with anecdotes of overly-dramatic directors and lax adult oversight fueled by sex and drugs (far more entertaining that any of the present-day shenanigans). Although Rapkin has obviously spoken frequently with each of his chosen subjects, he neither delves into their stories, nor questions the outlandish things they say. Indeed, one girl's rivalry with another veteran camper is presented with such gravity that it almost seems... important. Then the reader recalls that this was on a one-day production put on by teens in a Pennsylvania forest. Theatre is a powerful force, but Rapkin rarely explores beyond the proscenium. Instead, he embraces the relationship between Stagedoor and the industry with little question, leading one to wonder what the campers who didn't land the lead, or the agent, might have to say about all this.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A 31-year-old senior editor for GQ, Rapkin indulges his inner theater geek by spending a session at Stagedoor Manor, a celebrated performing-arts summer camp for kids. His account of the experience is a chatty, stage-struck combination of history—the camp has been a Catskills fixture for more than three decades—and human interest: that is, his fly-on-the-wall observation of the final session three talented teens will spend there before heading off to college. Rapkin brings a leavening of seriousness to his mix by stressing the importance of Stagedoor Manor as a place that provides a haven for any child with a love of the arts who . . . feels other. He also writes of the changes that this age of American Idol and YouTube have visited on the Stagedoor culture. But overall this is an unabashed love letter to a facility that remains a microcosm of the New York theater scene. Definitely not for cynical readers, but theater geeks will, well, . . . geek out over it. --Michael Cart
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From the playwright/performer Charles Busch to playwright Nicky Silver to composer Jeanine Tesori to actors Robert Downey Jr, Jon Cryer, and Natalie Portman -- Mickey carefully lays out the history of Stagedoor's creation...and then gives us all an inside peek at a summer at Stagedoor Manor.
I can't (and won't) hide how much I love this book! It's just beautiful!
BUY IT for any kid who has ever loved theater!
As a key member of the staff at Stagedoor Manor for 24 years (1979-2002), I can tell you that the number of times I heard the phrase, "God, you could write a book about this place" was rivaled only by the number of lifelong relationships I found there. In "Theater Geek," Mickey has found the true heart of the place I still think of as home. He wisely observes the welcoming warmth and generosity of spirit that makes Stagedoor Stagedoor. It would have been so easy to have made this book a collection of gossipy and bitchy anecdotes. Mickey mostly eschews these in favor of some insightful and very true observations on the homey, down-to-earth and all-embracing world that Stagedoor creates for its collection of misfits known as theater geeks. I mean, there are enough edgy anecdotes to keep you laughing, but Mickey understands that the place didn't and doesn't operate on cynicism and rivalry. It operates on people of a mutual quirk - love of theater - who come together for the summer each year, leaving behind their misunderstanding school, and sometimes, home lives. They come to a non-judgmental and loving place where everyone can find acceptance if they embrace it.
If you've never heard of Stagedoor Manor, this book will bring you into a world of achievement, disappointment, soaring emotions, painful laughter, dreams realized and dreams unrequited. You will look at the process of creating theater with a whole new appreciation. You will also be delighted that someone has written something that sings the praises of young people eager to learn, possessed of an extraordinary work-ethic, supportive of each other, and strangely moral, despite plenty of the typical summer camp immoralities!
If you are a Stagedoor veteran, you will find out things about the place and the people who made it tick that you likely never knew. You will roar with laughter as favorite anecdotes are finally immortalized in print, and you will shed tears of reminiscence remembering the thrills and emotions that only Stagedoor could evoke.
Mickey Rapkin did what we all joked about doing - he "wrote the book". And boy, we're all very grateful that he has written a hugely entertaining book that truly does justice to the long and colorful history of Stagedoor Manor.
That said, I wouldn't exactly call it a page turner on its own. None of the stories included are overly compelling and this is after all, just a summer camp -- in the end not so terribly unlike other summer camps, except that talent scouts might attend your kid's show. If my kids weren't thinking about Stage Door manor as an option I probably wouldn't have stuck with it, but considering their interest, I figured it was worth giving it a go until the last page.
I give it a true thumbs up for parents considering the camp and heck, I'd even give it a moderate thumbs up if you've got the spare time to read it for no reason other than entertainment value.
The author balances the historical aspects and a fly on the wall insight into the camp today with finesse. Being a theatre geek myself, I connected with these kids and yearned to go back in time 15 years and attend the camp myself.
A must read to self-proclaimed theatre geeks!
Most recent customer reviews
And, thanx to Josh Groban for posting about it.