theatergeek.jpgTheater Geek: The Real Life Drama of a Summer at Stagedoor Manor, the Famous Performing Arts Camp by Mickey Rapkin
I was happy to come across a brief recommendation for this book in New York magazine as I have been a fan of the theater since I was a child. I go to New York City at least two or three times a year to see all kinds of productions. And I’m a “Gleek.” If you, too, are a fan of the TV hit show “Glee” or fantasize about performing on American Idol you may also enjoy Theater Geek.

The author, a GQ magazine senior editor, spent three weeks at the Stagedoor Manor, a summer theater camp (some say THE theater camp) in the Catskill Mountains of New York. The Stagedoor has seen many a celebrity pass through its doors. Natalie Portman, Robert Downey Jr., Zach Braff, Bryce Dallas Howard, Mandy Moore, Jon Cryer, Felicity Huffman and Lea Michele to name a few. Mr. Rapkin provides an entertaining history of the Stage Door manor and the cast of characters who made it such a huge success. It’s hard to believe that for the longest time auditions were never required for camp attendance.

The author focuses on three teens that are spending their last year at camp and preparing for their final productions. All have been accepted to prestigious colleges for the performing arts. There’s some real tension when one of them becomes very ill as opening night nears. But the show must go on, right? Read the book to find out!
(Ms. Stalteri, September 2010)

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm GladwellI was so looking forward to this book as I had thoroughly enjoyed both Blink and The Tipping Point by Mr. Gladwell. I listened to the audiobook version, read by the author, and found it to be entertaining. The premise of the book is that success requires more than just innate talent or drive. Most successful people also have opportunity, familial and/or community support, circumstance and in some cases even their birth dates as contributing factors. An "outlier" is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience. Mr. Gladwell defines this in terms of human beings, "as people who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us." It's fascinating to listen to the stories of Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft and Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems and Java. They both had the incredible advantage of having access to computers at a time when they were not at all widely available. Both men were able to log thousands of hours of time working with them. And this is another key characteristic of successful people - thousands of hours of time invested - 10,000 hours to be exact. Whether it's computer programming, playing hockey or a musical instrument, successful people clock a lot of hours from a young age. Hard work plays a key role and transforms some people from ordinary to the extraordinary. While Mr. Gladwell does not cite any original research of his own to support his theory he does draw upon the work of others. He certainly gives students and educators a lot to think about in terms what it means to be successful and effectively illustrates the notion that we all have the potential, not just those who have been labeled gifted and/or talented. Success is within everyone's reach. (Ms. Stalteri, October 15, 2010)