A Moment in the Woods: Stagedoor Manor Immerses Students in Theatre With In the Heights, Bloody Bloody and More

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08 Aug 2013

Aside from producing the next generation of performers, Stagedoor is also aiming to expose the campers to all forms of theatrical art, including writing and directing.

"This is our sixth year doing it — it's called Dramafest," said Tommy's Speedy. "I'm a writer this year. This is my third time writing, actually, and for me [Dramafest has] been a very, very special program here at Stagedoor. It's taught me a lot. I've been able to write my own piece, and it's a ten-minute play that I have to direct as well. It's produced in front of the entire camp, and in the end it will be published." Each year, the ten-minute pieces are collected and printed by Samuel French, Inc.

"I've seen almost all of Derek's shows," said co-star Cumming. "The whole camp… Their reaction to [Dramafest] is astonished — by how campers can [create] an actual production."

Before the end of the day, Preston Cox, 17, from Gulfport, MS, confided, "I've dreamed of playing Usnavi. It was a dream, and then the cast list came out, and it became a reality. It's a true blessing… This is my third year. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

The campers, on a high from Miranda's advice — to perform as a "community" — took the stage for their first audience of In the Heights. They worked together, as "one," for a cohesive first performance and garnered rapturous applause from their peers.

(Playbill.com staff writer Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.)

Watch highlights from "Dress Rehearsal Day" at Stagedoor:

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