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Stagedoor (Unrated)

Release Date: May 24th, 2006 (Film Forum) by Gidalya Pictures.
Directed by Alexandra Shiva.

BASIC PREMISE: A documentary about Stagedoor Manor, a summer camp in the Catskills which specializes in theater.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Stagedoor focus on the experiences of young campers at Stagedoor Manor. For those who are only familiar with traditional summer camps that involve a combination of sports and arts, the popularity of this theater camp could come as an initial surprise. Director Alexandra Shiva includes interviews with many campers and instructors, but mainly focuses on five young kids: Nicole Doring, Randi Kleiner, Taylor Rabow, Robert Wright, and Maddy Weinstein. Each camper goes through rigorous training sessions to hone their skills and to compete for the best role in the different performances. Not everyone has talent, but everyone at least has the energy and passion to perform live. The liveliest young camper is Taylor Rabow has ADHD and looks young for his age, but has plenty of charisma and humor. Also, thereís the story of how Robert Wright comes from a dangerous and poor neighborhood to spend his productively spend his time in the safe haven of the Stagedoor Manor. Although Stagedoor doesnít have any suspense like in Spellbound, it could have been more engaging with more glimpses of what a typical day in the life of a camper is like when they arenít in sessions. More personal interviews with the campers would have definitely helped as well as more footage showing the kids performing. Nonetheless, itís still mildly entertaining to watch how these young kids have a good time doing what they love the most regardless of whether or not they are good at it.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Itís comforting to know that Stagedoor Manor is a place where kids can just be themselves without worrying being picked on too much. Not everyone at this camp may find themselves, so-to-speak, but at least it represents a stepping stone and a test for whether or not they have the innate desire to continue with theater for the rest of their life. Or perhaps they could become as famous as Mandy Moore or Felicity Huffman who had once been a camper at this very same place.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Not enough insight into the lives of the campers.


IN A NUTSHELL: Mildly entertaining, but not particularly lively, moving or memorable.


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