BOOK SPOTLIGHT - THEATER GEEK: The Real Life Drama of a Summer at Stagedoor Manor, the Famous Performing Arts Camp
After the TONY AWARDS (the official end-of-season) I finally had the time to pay attention to all the books for review on my desk. With the record-breaking heat this summer, staying inside, in air-conditioned comfort and reading, has been a fantastic way to spend the days. The SUMMER Book Report will be coming out in a matter of days, but I thought ONE book in particular should be our SPOTLIGHT, as it has special summer appeal and quite an interesting, rich and comical history.
THEATER GEEK: The Real Life Drama of a Summer at Stagedoor Manor, the Famous Performing Arts Camp
by Mickey Rapkin
4 stars (out of 5)
I certainly had some issues with this book – especially when a quote from Madonna, at The Tony Awards, is noted in the WRONG year (1998 vs. 1988) or when the author professes his love for musicals and mentions the OVERTURE of LES MISERABLES (which there isn’t). But those little missteps happen early in the book and there is plenty to be enjoyed here (even with other little glaring and annoying bits of incorrect knowledge throughout). Oh well, the author, Mickey Rapkin is the senior editor at GQ magazine – what can one expect? But WHO was HIS editor?
Anyway, everyone pretty much knows about Stagedoor Manor and how it was the subject of a documentary STAGEDOOR (click here for the trailer) and the inspiration of one of the best movies ever, made by Todd Graff, CAMP (click here for the trailer) (which even has an appearance by Stephen Sondheim in it). And, in a time after exposure to Disney's HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL (all 3 of them), the white-hot popularity of Ryan Murphy's GLEE on Fox (starring Broadway alums Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele, as well as featuring multiple Broadway backgrounded guest stars like Jonathan Groff, Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth) and the turbulently bad weekend release of a thin little movie called STANDING OVATION, this should have tremendous appeal and a good audience/buying public from hungry theatre geeks.
Many people performing on stages today spent time there at Stagedoor Manor, as did (and do) many children of famous people in the arts, from both coasts.
There are some good laughs in this book, which focuses on three students in particular. Our Editor, Robert Diamond, reached out to those three and heard back from only one (Rachael Singer) at press time. Here’s what she told us:
"Well, first of all, who wouldn't want to re-live their last summer before they are knocked into the reality of adulthood!
I think Mickey is a great writer and just reading through his portrayal of Stagedoor brought tears to my eyes. I am not quite sure that I am quite as lacking in self-confidence as the book seems to indicate, but hey, everything in theater is subjective. I only wish I could have done that role without being so incredibly sick. Finally towards the end of the session i was feeling so comfortable and confident in the role and the show, its a shame that swine flu had to create such an unfortunate obstacle for me. But i couldn't be more grateful to have had Natalie (one of my very best friends) there to hold my hand through it all, it meant more to me than anything to me. If i could do the whole summer over, with the same exact obstacles, i wouldn't have changed a thing, except maybe i wouldn't have told mickey about my embarrassing technicolored scarf ;)
Mickey some how made his way from being "that creepy writer dude who is going to be following us around all summer", to one of the gang. i know i found myself forgetting at times that he was actually writing a book and wasn't just simply a stagedoorian himself. Mickey became a great friend of mine, as well as Harry, Brain and even Natalie (whom we all continuously poke fun of for being a great big diva, even though that is hardly Natalie's true side (really she's a total goof-ball like the rest of us)). But i know can speak for all of us when i say that Mikey left a imprint in our hearts that we will never let fade, he's a giant big kid, who we all have accepted as part of our theater geek crew.
I cannot possibly communicate how much I will miss Stagedoor, my friends and directors as well as Konnie and Cindy and the amazing things they have done for those of us "theater geeks". Mickey did an amazing job giving our "home" the credit it deserves. the amount of work everyone at that camp puts in on a day to day basis blows me away. Just getting the opportunity to attend and meet so many talented people is a privilege in itself. I know I'm already saying "i knew them when" to some of my stagedoor friends, as i watch their career take flight, i only can hope that I'm following right behind them."
The main thing I found astonishing is the sheer number of productions they do during the course sessions. Mind-boggling. Also, I thought I would share with you another video clip from Stagedoor Manor’s production of Andrew Lippa’s THE WILD PARTY. This book is definitely worth a fun and breezy read.
Click here to purchase from Amazon.com.
From This Author Naomi Plume