Gig&Tell: TheaterWorks USA

  • 08/01/2012  2:06pm

    I've worked for them before and had an absolutely fantastic experience! But listen, its not for everyone. I've worked with some people who loved it, and I've worked with some people who were miserable. Like any gig, its about perspective and attitude.

    Pro: You get to travel and see the country. On my tour there was a good blend between big cities and small towns and we always found fun things to do.

    Pro: Theatreworks shows are really fun... Seussical is of course fantastic, I've seen Junie B. Jones and the music is great, and I loved Click Clack Moo (despite its ridiculous title). Okay so these are not going to be the deepest shows you ever work on or see in a theatre but think of it this way... you're introducing kids to theatre, for most of them this is their first show they'll ever see. I think that's something to be proud of.

    Pro: You are offered your Equity Card... and if its the first time you're offered your card you don't have to take it if you're not ready for it. You're allowed one refusal. But what's nice is you have an in with a company that will offer it to you if you want to go back out (Fall tours are great because they are just about 3 months compared to the Spring tours which are 6).

    Here's a little reality about it...
    If you're not a morning person getting up early around 6AM to be loading into the theatre by 7 or 7:30am and then performing 2 shows at 10 AM and 12 PM and then packing up and hitting the road for a few hours may not be your cup of tea. But in my experience its not as bad as it sounds and that's just me, I like road trips so it was a good fit. Like I said, its about perspective.

    Your eating options are limited to whatever you can find on the road and the per diem isn't great ($54 a day on my tour) and thats to cover meals and hotel (which are primarily Days Inn, Red Roof Inn, La Quinta, Motel 6, Super 8 Motel, etc... so its doable if you room with one or two people and eat cheaply... lots of Subway). Most hotel/motels have a free breakfast so that's always a money saver.

    I'd say if you have a 3 month Fall tour lined up, do it! By the time you're sick of it BANG its done. If you have a good group of people you'll have a fantastic time!

    Agreed totally. I had a fantastic cast and we had a great time. I got burned out at the end but I did a fall tour so it wasn't bad. It's just the constant moving around. After awhile you forget where you are. But definitely one of the best experiences of my life.

    10/02/2012  12:43pm

    I'm on a tour right now and the per diem is $55 a day or $385 a week. Add that on top of the pay you're getting and it makes for a nice looking pay check but then you remember you use some of that money for hotels and food. But I'm managing the money well and able to save a bit from the per diem.

    And we're having a great time. We're normally at the theatre by 8 AM and doing a show at 10 AM and a second show at 12:30 or 1 PM. It was an adjustment but its not bad. And the kids cheering, screaming, and applauding is so awesome.

    No drama has been had and we're having a lot of fun! A great gig so far!

    10/18/2012  2:03am

    I did a tour very recently and have to say it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Stage managers were absolutely horrendous and unprofessional. If you have worked at any decent regional theatre in the past- chances are you will not be happy with these conditions.

    Many people got bed bugs on our tour and Theatreworks continued to put us in the same hotels where they were obtained.

    Theresa Hagar, one of the staff members at the NY Office- makes it clear you can e-mail her or get in touch with her at any time and she is there for you! Except, she never responds. She didn't respond to a single e-mail anyone on my tour sent her, and there were several from almost every person.

    Our stage manager frequently disrespected our director by talking badly about her in front of us.
    Also, make sure you count your hours because often times you don't get the money you are supposed to be getting.
    I say this often, and it's really too bad. I wouldn't wish this experience on my worst enemy.

    10/30/2012  9:09pm

    Terrible, awful experience. Where to begin.

    If you don't mind hard work and early mornings, waking up at 6 and putting up the set for a 9 am show really isn't too bad. That isn't what I mind about working for TWUSA.

    What I do mind is the conditions in the hotels and venues. Bed bugs, urine on beds, unsafe playing spaces, unsafe hotels, you name it. Complain all you want to the company and even to Equity. The contract is made in such a way that what you do or say will NEVER matter, NOTHING will change, and NO ONE is looking out for you while you are out on the road. If you do say something to the producer, brace yourself for a condescending email made to shame you in front of your peers. To say TWUSA doesn't care about their actors is an understatement. On my particular tour, actors have been subjected to completely unsanitary living conditions, been injured and everyone was basically miserable and nothing was done. Paychecks have been missing money, our van was virtually falling apart and completely unsafe, we have performed in places with no dressing rooms, children have wandered backstage into our dressing rooms, we've had bed bugs, our van has broken down....

    I think this company has recently completely went down the shitter and they are cutting corners at every turn at the expense of their employees. Sad. Honestly, if you get a short contract, maybe things wouldn't be too bad, but anything more than 3 months, RUN. RUN FAR AWAY. Most likely, you're better than this and deserve to be treated better than this. Or take the contract and immediately give your two weeks so you get your card if you want it. Like the above mentioned comment, I wouldn't wish this experience on my worst enemy.

    03/30/2014  9:08am

    I had a great experience working for this company. Fun show, fun cast, better hotels than I expected, and a variety of venues, some of which were very cool. Also learned a lot about show production from the technical end, which I also enjoyed. The kids love the shows, which also makes it very worth it.

    Word to the wise, though: with the new Equity negotiations, per diem has gone down, and so have health weeks, so that you have to have 9 shows to qualify for 1 week of insurance (which meant about 2 weeks of work for 1 week of insurance). So depending on the length of your tour, you might not get insurance at all. (At least there's Obamacare now!)

    In short, don't do it for the health weeks, but do it for a fun, life-fulfilling experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

    05/04/2014  8:18pm

    I feel 50/50 on this. Theatreworks USA has a tendency to hire "green" actors right of college with no experience and want to rush to join equity. This is not a good combination for those who are more seasoned/experience. Different dynamic... This can result in frustration and conflict. These "kids" don't take it as seriously...

    All tours can go well but it depends on the cast... It is difficult to wake up early every morning and perform early mornings. One can get tired of loading in/out.

    Theatreworks now takes care of hotels/ Actors don't have to pay for that. The hotel/motel choices and accommodations are great. They have a list of hotels to not book based on bedbugs and other issues. So they are on point with this. I've had no issues of bedbugs...

    The problem is that Theatreworks has shorten the rehearsal process immensely. This was not the case when I did Theatreworks a few years ago... They are doing this to save money. It is very frustrating and overwhelming. Unfortunately a lot of touring companies have been effected by the economy.

    I've done two Theatreworks tours and won't do anymore because I'm all about moving on and up. I've done the fall tours because it's only 3 months. For those who have never been on tour and want to see the country, do it. It's an experience to learn from. Do only a 3 month tour NOT 6 months. It's too long and you will be missing out on major auditions. You'll also work with well known directors. This will look good on your resume. Do it especially if you love children. They are adorable and you will change their lives. You are introducing theatre to them for the first time!

    Last but not least, the salary is fine. It's manageable. Be smart with your money and your per diem. You'll be able to save up and survive.

    11/13/2014  12:58pm

    I had a fantastic experience.
    Yes this contract will DRAIN YOU because there is so much work and SO much traveling but you'll get to work with wonderful people in the rehearsal studios and on the road. The money isn't great either but I know I've done shows for a lot cheaper than this and I haven't had as much fun as I did here.
    I say if you've got nothing else lined up just do it. Worst case scenario you have to give a 2 weeks notice and they'll replace you BIG DEAL.
    Also work is work, treat it with respect and you'll save yourself a lot of headaches.

    12/13/2014  8:42pm

    Thanks for sharing! I was wondering how this company was. :-)

    05/01/2016  2:11pm

    I think the experience of any tour depends on the attitude of the cast and stage manager. I finished a five month contract with Theatreworks and had an amazing/outgoing cast and fun/reliable stage manager. And this contract is a great way to see America! My cast was constantly looking up roadside attractions, unique bars, and other activities to do while on the road. We ended up in or just outside of a number of major cities, and when we were in the middle of nowhere there were still really cool and unusual things to do and see. Nine times out of ten there was a Planet Fitness within a few miles of our hotels. We were back in New York for a few weeks at a time, so it's important to have some kind of housing or sublet set up. I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves to drive, wake up early, and go on adventures.

    08/02/2016  11:05am