×

Stagedoor Manor Summer Camp Gives Teens Taste of the Arts

If stars are made rather than born, then credit Stagedoor Manor performing arts summer camp, and longtime production director Konnie Kittrell, for helping to mold quite a few. In fact, Robert Downey Jr., Natalie Portman, Lea Michele, Zach Braff and Jon Cryer are all alumni of the program — members of what’s known as the Stagedoor Mafia.

Time flies: Stagedoor started in New York about 36 years ago and has trained thousands of young actors, many of whom have gone on to success in film, television and theater. Kittrell — who works as a college mentor when it’s not summer — has been part of the camp for so long she’s lost track. It’s been “about 32 or 33 years,” she says.

Self-discovery: Kittrell sees Stagedoor as a place where middle-school and high-school students who don’t fit into the culture of sports camps can experience a place where their peers share an interest in the arts. “These kids find people who validate their passion for theater and performance here,” she says.

Role call: With room for 108 girls and 84 boys in each of the three 3-week-long sessions, beds sell out — at $5,645 each — by the end of the summer for the following year. Kittrell, part of a five-member team, puts together approximately 14 shows every three weeks, casting each camper in a role. “I have to think about who’s going where, and is this an opportunity for them to be successful — an opportunity for them to discover something new about themselves,” she says.

Celebrating the arts: Kittrell emphasizes that despite the success of the program’s alumni, ultimately the camp is not about casting, but rather about the campers becoming better artists. “Our goal is to celebrate what it is about theater that makes their heart beat faster, makes them thrive and accept themselves as an artist,” she explains. “Our motto is ‘process not product.’ ”

Relatable journey: Because of the extensive network of Stagedoor alumni, Kittrell says she is often able to connect them with each other. One time, Cryer called a Stagedoor alum to offer congratulations on being cast in a small role in “The Hunger Games.” “You just couldn’t ask for a better job than this,” Kittrell says.

More Scene

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Mick Jagger

    Mick Jagger Makes First Post-Surgery Appearance at Rolling Stones Ballet Premiere

    Rock legend Mick Jagger made his first public appearance post-heart surgery on Thursday night to catch a glimpse of the world premiere of the Rolling Stones ballet “Porte Rouge.” “I hope you are going to enjoy this wonderful new ballet, and, of course, the music,” the frontman declared in a pre-recorded message to the audience [...]

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

  • PMC Event Rome

    Film, Fashion, Formula E Mix at Rome E-Prix Bash

    Film, fashion and Formula E auto-racing fused during a dinner and celebration of the Rome E-Prix on Thursday at the Palazzo Dama by the Piazza del Popolo in the heart of the Eternal City.  Guests mingled and sipped cocktails as hors d’oeuvres were passed around in a former home of the Italian nobility with conversation [...]

  • Katy Perry, Diane von Furstenberg, Arianna

    Katy Perry and Anita Hill Honored at the DVF Awards

    Katy Perry was among the honorees at the 10th Annual DVF Awards on Thursday night. The singer was recognized for her advocacy work with both UNICEF and the LGBTQ community. “Music has opened the doors for so many opportunities for me,” she said while accepting the inspiration award. “The ability to meet people and champion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content