VSL// Before there was American Idol and Glee…

Glee might be all the rage now, but once upon a not-too-distant time, talented kids with theatrical aspirations felt like outsiders—until they found their way to famed Catskills camp Stagedoor Manor. In the smart and very entertaining Theater Geek: The Real Life Drama at Stagedoor Manor, the Famous Performance Art Camp (available 6/1), journalist Mickey Rapkin explores the camp’s rich history and shadows three high school seniors during their last summer there.

Founded in 1975, Stagedoor Manor has become a regular stop for Hollywood and Broadway talent scouts, and has a distinguished alumni list that includes Natalie Portman, Josh Charles, Zach Braff and Mandy Moore (and yes, Glee’s Lea Michele). Rapkin, an editor at GQ, took three weeks off in the summer of 2009 and moved in to closer observe all drama on and off the stage, and interviewed nearly 100 of the camp’s alumni. Rapkin supplies plenty of juicy anecdotes (Courtney Love gets in a fight with a hot dog vendor!), but she also exhibits a real thoughtfulness and care toward this very special place that, as she writes, “provides a haven for any child with a love of the arts who, for whatever reason, feels other than.”

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