I spent 5 summers, from age 13-17, at Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center (also known as Camp). I truly believe that this is where I was most challenged and most fulfilled doing theatre. When it was just a passion and before it became a career. Where my friends and I would count down the winter months preparing for another summer of using the tennis courts for scene study and the indoor pool was perpetually vacant because our free time was spent singing around a piano (that pool has since been turned into a theatre-in-the-round). Stagedoor is the place where eccentricity is celebrated and creativity is overflowing. Where weirdos and theatre geeks are the most popular kids on campus. Where I played Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music at 15 and realized this is what I wanted for the rest of my life. It is where, as an adult, you dream of going back to, and what you wish every theatre experience would be.
I had the awesome opportunity to re-visit Camp this week with my great friend, Todd Buonopane (who I met there my first summer and have been friends with ever since) and a new friend, Dana Steingold who is also a Stagedoor alum. As we walked around and shared stories and met campers I felt like I had come home. I thought about how I felt about life and theatre when I was there at age 15. Being a professional actor and making my career in the theatre is a dream come true, but not always easy. Visiting the place where I cultivated my love for performing was revitalizing, as I imagined the teen-aged me being super excited by the life of the adult me. To quote [title of show], I found my “way back to then”.
Courtney with Todd and Dana in the Oasis Theatre (formally the indoor pool)