Documentary Highlights Summer Camp Influence on Broadway


A new documentary that debuted on PBS on Jan. 1 tells the story of the Jewish community’s influence and contributions to Broadway and unsurprisingly there is a segment that speaks to the role summer camps have played as a training ground for some of the biggest names in musical theater history.

The segment of Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy (it begins at the 24-minute mark of an 83-minute film) lists a few but certainly not all of the big name Broadway summer camp alumni, including Oscar Hammerstein II, Larry Hart (who was known as Shakespeare at Camp Paradox because “his trunk was crammed with books instead of clothing), fellow Camp Paradox alum Richard Rodgers, Jerry Herman, John Kander, Charles Strouse, Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein and Adolph Green.

Among the anecdotes shared is a story of how composer Leonard Bernstein (pictured above) met best friend and collaborator Adolph Green at Camp Onota. Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie, and Green’s daughter, Phyllis, recount the story of Bernstein playing an impromptu game of name that tune with Green and having no success stumping him until he made something up on the spot.

“They were best friends forevermore,” Jamie Bernstein says in the film, which was directed by Michael Kantor.

The movie is embedded below. If you can’t view it, check out the PBS website HERE.

Watch Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy on PBS. See more from Great Performances.

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at and I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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