Every summer, Andres Martinez anxiously awaits starting Stagedoor Manor, a sleepaway camp for the ultimate theater lover situated in the Catskills.
"I mean, from the moment I stepped onto the campus, it was just so accepting and loving, and I just knew that I was in a safe and inviting place," said Martinez.
Celebrity Alums for Stagedoor include Natalie Portman, Zach Braff, Mandy Moore and the list goes on. The summer haven was also the inspiration for the 2003 indie film Camp. But this year, because of the pandemic, camp is not in session.
"It was going to be my last experience. And I was going to be saying goodbye," Martinez said.
But as the saying goes — “the show must go on” — lights up on actors Erich Bergen and Dana Steingold, two Broadway performers who happen to be Stagedoor Manor Alums. To make sure the 2020 class still gets a theater-filled summer experience, Bergen and Steingold, along with their Stagedoor pal NYC Talent Agent Jeremy Leiner, created an online version of Stagedoor.
"Playhouse is essentially an interactive virtual performing arts training center,” explained Steingold. “We want to make sure that artistic experiences are equitable and accessible and so far we've been also able to grant a hundred scholarships this summer.”
The camp includes classes that the students pick a la carte, taught by a long list of Broadway’s best — artists like Kelli O’Hara, Eva Noblezada, Caissie Levy, Corey Cott, Kara Lindsay and many more.
"The whole time in the back of my mind, all I could think of was, ‘I don't know if this is going to work,’ because theater is inherently about being in the room. And somehow it works," Bergen said.
And, boy, is it packing a punch for young artists like Andres.
"I think my favorite part with Playhouse was definitely my workshop with Eva Noblezada. She’s been an inspiration to me since I first saw her in "Miss Saigon,” her being of color, like me, and starting so young. I think being able to do that workshop was just a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Martinez.
If you’re a rising star of tomorrow and want to be educated by the stars of today, head to playhousebysdm.com.
"You really are seeing the next generation of young people who are going into the arts and coming after my job, which is not as exciting as I thought it was going to be," Bergen joked.