Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Randi Kleiner, Maddy Weinstein, Kat Pogo, Nicole Doring, Robert Wright (XVII)
Director: Alexandra Shiva
Stagedoor Manor is a Catskills camp where America?s youngest aspiring Broadway stars--kids more interested in Auntie Mame than Britney Spears--gather to sing and dance their hearts out. In essence, life becomes a cabaret, ... more »
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The entire world's a stage, or could be, when a star is born
Kyle Tolle | Phoenix, Arizona USA | 08/26/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Stagedoor Manor is a theater camp in the Catskill Mountains and it becomes home to 250 kids each summer. Over a 3 week time period, they all attend varied classes that culminate with 12 full-scale productions. The final shows are for family, friends, and casting directors looking for new talent.
Each camper is cast in a show and additionally, some are chosen to perform in a talent contest and others in a cabaret with the latter category here being a highlight that many aspire to be a part of. The talents and skill levels are varied among all camp attendees but their shared passions for performance arts are universal among them all. Everyone is held to a high standard of professionalism and the work ethics are stringent but necessary to achieve the impressive results seen in their final performances.
Although 5 individual campers are examined in this documentary, it is also a broad look at the entire group of members here and their shared experiences. Many relate that this retreat from regular life is free from stigmas, cliques, peer pressures, and other stressors that they would normally find in school back home. Competition can be heavy at times and individual expectations are high but the rewards outweigh the difficulties.
Current superstars Natalie Portman, Robert Downey Jr, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Felicity Huffman were all former members of Stagedoor Manor and this is a testament to the excellence of this facility and its dedicated staff.
Cinema Verite Portrait of Folly, Ego, and Cruelty
Kevin Killian | San Francisco, CA United States | 06/10/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)
"STAGEDOOR is a brutal documentary that exposes the bizarre methods of a theatrical summer camp for teens in the Catskills, and the awful people who staff it. Not to mention it makes the children look like monsters. Are there any agreeable characters in the movie? Maybe one or two, but the filmmakers seem to delight in revealing the worst aspects of the theatrical personality.
I don't know who comes across worse. There's the one male teacher with the artfully haystacked-up hair, who takes the honors drama class and tells them on their first meeting that there are one too many students in the group, and before the end of the class they are going to have to kick one out, and he forces each student in turn to name one who should be evicted. Then at the end he tells them laughingly it was just an exercise. Then there's the large woman who's the director I guess, who has a hissy fit over some bad student behavior and rounds them up, asking them why didn't they just spit at her. Talk about a drama queen! The film focuses on five students, but not very successfully. None of them seem very talented, but is that just the luck of the draw, that sometimes doc-makers pick their subjects early and then they just peter out, or are they making a case against letting teens act? The one black boy who plays the Tim Curry role in Annie has confidence, and a role in Broadway's THE LION KING on his resume, but he's got very little stage presence, while the girl Nicole seems to think she can get by on her comic antics offstage, it's painful to watch adolescent awkwardness this close up.
The actual operations of Stagedoor Manor are awesome--it's hard to believe that the staff can cast, direct, produce, rehearse and open twelve musicals in three weeks. The weird thing is the built-in caste system. Not all campers are equal, the best ones wind up in their own cabaret which they bring to seniors at two neighboring hotels, old men and women who looks barely alive, while up on the stage, the kids are singing and dancing their hearts out. Non-cabaret kids are wildly jealous of the elite--it's just another layer of ugliness in a remarkably ugly film.