Gig&Tell: Vital Theatre Company

  • Disappointing experience    
    02/03/2015  1:14pm

    Unfortunately, this was the worst professional experience I have had in my career. I wanted to work at Vital for quite some time due to my love of children's theater and the seemingly ease of the contract, but this was anything but easy. Their number one issue: lack of communication. Communication between staff members, with venues, with their stage managers and actors, just everyone. My contract was half tour and half NYC based. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT TOUR WITH THIS COMPANY. Maybe consider a NYC run for the right show but do not tour. Here is why in a nutshell:

    Their booking director is the biggest hot mess of a human being I have ever met. You will literally feel stranded your entire time on the road. We had situations where hotels were not booked by mistake, company credit cards were declined at hotels or the van rental company, theaters did not know they were required to feed us. The list goes on and on. The absolute worst is the van location. The vans are in Greenpoint, Brooklyn about a 15 min walk off the G or 30 min walk off the L. The times we were scheduled to pick up the vans was 90% of the time during rush hour. And to top it all off, none of us lived in Brooklyn. I won't lie, I sobbed out of frustration multiple times behind the wheel of the 7 passenger mini van.

    Now onto NYC. This was a better experience, but still had issues. Unfortunately I was already so upset from the tour situation I had a hard time really enjoying myself. The issue of communication also still exists in house. We had an added show that no one told us about. A cast member happened to discover it and the company tried to pass it off that it was always in our contract. I already had work so I had to miss the show. Also be prepared to HUNT DOWN your props and costumes each week as storage is a nightmare. Usually 4 shows are running at once with the storage space for one so your stuff is never in one spot. We never found two of our props again after our first show in New York. And you better be good at Tetris because every set gets stored in the upstage crossover (about two feet deep) and none of the sets are made for the space. AKA, they're huge. And last but not least, if you are not in one of their new world premiere shows, no one at the theater really gives a shit about you. My show has been running for years and would sell no matter what do they don't take the time to make it good. Costumes were never repaired because it didn't matter. Our falling apart set was never repaired because it didn't matter. We didn't have a director come in for rehearsals because it didn't matter.

    I wish I had a better experience as some on here seemed to have, especially because I loved the show and role! So please tread with caution everyone. You deserve better than Vital can provide no matter where you are in your career.

  • Not a great theatre to work at 03/20/2012  4:30pm

    -didn't honor any of our contract details
    -didn't pay us money owed for certain days of work
    -completely abused non eq status of actors
    -didn't honor time commitment... Worked 10x more than initially explained
    -didnt care about actors in general

    Having worked at Vital, I've had a completely different experience. In response...

    -My contract has been honored 100%
    -The theatre does not owe me any money.
    -The only non-eq abuse I've encountered is having to help with set up and strike, which other companies, like Theatre Works require you to do as well..
    -I've never had a problem with time.. I personally wanted more rehearsal.
    -I don't feel like my needs are ignored.

    **Remember that not all contracts are created equal.**

    03/20/2012  9:56pm

    "-didn't honor any of our contract details
    -didn't pay us money owed for certain days of work
    -completely abused non eq status of actors
    -didn't honor time commitment... Worked 10x more than initially explained
    -didnt care about actors in general"

    ----

    I totally disagree with whoever wrote this. It seems to me that most actors just don't do their homework, or are really new to the city, and do not appreciate how good some opportunities are - such as working for Vital.

    Regarding payments, how could they have not given you your pay when you could invoice them for the entire run, as well as however many added performances you've had. A New York credit is far more valued than most regional theatre credits, and most local actors know, most off-off Broadway theaters in NYC rarely even pay. Vital Theatre is one of the few that does (and not terrible at that, in comparison to most), and I have not met a single person who worked for them who said they didn't get paid.

    Also, what kind of abuse do you speak of? If you mean setting up and striking, then do not audition for Theatreworks. I have done a Theatreworks national tour, and our set was no walk in the park - with only 6 people to do it every show, sometimes as early as 6 a.m. With Vital, we have our cast, our stage manager, our interns, and the cast of the next show (and their interns) to help set up and break down. Everyone helps and the work is done in less than half an hour.

    Our time commitment was completely honored. Most times, they even dismissed us earlier than scheduled. And when you have a conflict and you tell them ahead of time, they let you go when you need to. Also, your rehearsal schedule is all in your contract. You knew what you were getting into prior to signing.

    I would like to learn more about what you mean by "didn't care for actors in general".

    I'm not saying they're absolutely perfect. When you work on a new show, expect that things change on a drop of a hat, and sometimes it's when after you already have something engrained in your mind and body that they change a word or a phrase, and it's a total mindf***. But hey, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. You'll learn to be on your toes, and be really focused. If anything, I felt that it only helped me become a better actor.

    Oh yeah, and if you work for Vital, you get reviewed by The New York Times and TimeOut New York, one of the many that come up with reviews. If you're new to NYC, and work for Vital, expect that at least 20 new things will pop up when you google your name. Occasionally, you see some celebrities and their kids in the audience too.



    04/03/2012  2:46am

    I'ma have to back a girl up... but before I do I will say that I have worked for Vital and I know many other people who have as well and your experience really depends on what show you're working on.

    That being said this company can be a bit of a hot mess. My experience...which may be different if you worked on a different show...was completely unorganized and stressful. The artistic director didn't seem to care enough to get involved when actors needed help and were concerned for the quality of the show. Be really careful especially if you're touring to read your contract and make sure you know how much you're being paid and if you're being paid and for what, before you leave.

    If you're new to the city or just graduated it's a nyc credit and a great part time job (if you're not touring). Just watch out for yourself. I'm grateful for my time at Vital but would not work there again.

    04/05/2012  12:55pm

    Has anyone toured with them? Thoughts?

    02/05/2013  3:55pm

    Okay, I've worked on tour with vital. Not the best experience I've ever had. It's a fun show to do, and I totally enjoyed the performance aspect. You go to some really cool theatres and places.

    The down-side. It's definitely, heart and soul, a childrens theatre tour. You have to meet at the theatre, load up all the costumes and merch in the truck/van, you go to the storage unit, unload the set from the storage into a truck (THE SET PIECES ARE SO HEAVY. I know Theatre Works has a 2 person set limit. Vital does not have that. One unit takes about 6 people to comfortably lift.), you drive to the venue, unload the set into the venue and put it together (Thankfully with the help of stagehands), and at the end of the show you tear it all down and load it back into the truck. For single day tours, you unload the set back into the storage unit and then head back to the theatre to unload the merch and costumes.

    You only get paid per performance. So you can have a 17 hour day and only get paid for the show you did.

    You get per diem for tours when you are gone for more than a day. And if you do more than a certain number of shows in a week you get a larger paycheck.

    I'm glad I had the experience and I worked with some great people, but for me, I felt like I had paid these dues before and I was a little past this in my career. The company just seemed a little all over the place and like they had a lot of internal problems that need to be fixed.

    I also had a very difficult time getting a paycheck on time. And that is a big turn off for me in a company.

    Hope this helps. If you have more specific questions, I'm sure Tom could put us in contact. I don't want to give away my anonymity on this site.

    02/05/2013  6:12pm

    Great company to work for.
    I was on tour with them in the past and am currently doing a show here in NYC at their UWS theater. We always get paid on time, our per diems on tour were taxed so that was annoying for awhile. Anyway, we got to go to some awesome cities, and I felt like we were taken care of. It was definitely a great tour because we had a lot of paid days off to explore the cities. The load-in and out can get annoying but if everyone just does their jobs, it works out fine. Work here if you get the chance!

    03/26/2014  3:11pm