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Gig&Tell: Arizona Broadway Theatre

  • ABT review    
    06/20/2018  11:33am

    The quality of theater they do for a non equity house is pretty good.
    But the producers and directors are soooooo up in the clouds. They act like they’re owners of a real Broadway theater. They create a stigma that makes you think you need to suck up to them. The casting is done by favoritism.
    And if you say something they don’t like, they will never respond to your emails again. Really they’re just not great people.

    Cassandra Klaphake is the worst wannabe diva. Stay far away.

    09/04/2018  6:33pm
  • Cassandra Klaphake 07/03/2017  12:31am

    She's a nightmare. If you don't suck up to her, you'll never work there again. She's delusional and just wants to control people. I worked here several times and she's literally in a different planet. She also casts herself as the lead in half the season which is so tacky.

    She casts herself because no one in their right mind would cast her.

    07/03/2017  12:34am

    This is bull. She casts herself in one show a year, and ya know what? She and her husband built the damn theatre. It's her prerogative. IF you were in her place, would you not do the same? The theatre is wonderful, high production quality. Sometimes some bad eggs get cast, but that happens anywhere. Sounds to me like someone (you?) is a little bitter. You don't need to suck up. You just need to do your job an not expect undue praise for doing what you are hired to do.

    04/04/2018  5:45pm

    The previous reply is either Cassandra or one of her friends. So she and her husband built the theater. OK. So she can put herself in a few shows. OK. However, she can stand to learn how to treat people with respect. There are plenty of ways to give criticism. Being downright derogatory and degrading another human being is her best talent.

    04/26/2018  4:16pm

    07/22/2017  3:59am

    I agree with these comments Cassandra is a delusional bitch that casts herself in roles that no one would cast her I. Professionally.

    07/22/2017  4:02am

    Do you mind me asking (cause of auditions for the upcoming season), was it the production quality or the people?

    09/07/2017  6:18pm
  • EXCELLENT Theatre!    
    01/24/2016  12:36pm

    I really loved my experience here. The production quality is exceptional... Much higher, in fact, than many equity theaters I've worked. The schedule is absolutely reasonable, and it is pretty much run like an equity house. The pay is fine.. Nothing exceptional, but fair for noneq. The building is GORGEOUS. There is definitely a family-feel to how the place is run, but high expectations (that are met!). Would definitely recommend working here.

  • Excellent    
    07/07/2012  6:10pm

    Put simply, ABT is by far, one of the most wonderful theaters that I have had the pleasure to work for. Production quality is amazing, on par, if not better than LORT C theaters. They may be Non, but they operate rehearsals with equity precision. Negotiation is welcome at this theater, as long as you are not a diva, compromises are usually found and respected. And, they treat you like family. The production staff is one of the most talented group of individuals to run a theatre. I will not drop names in this review, but I'll try to touch on important aspects.

    Facilities: The Theater itself is stunning. Not your typical dinner theatre. I like to refer to it as a regional house with a restaurant attached. Sound can be an issue on occasion, but they will always work to fix the problem. Live orchestra, and amazing musicians to boot.

    Housing: Walking distance from the theater, in a beautiful apartment complex, The Enclave (with pool/hot tub, and quaint gym). You will most likely share your first contract, but the rooms are large. If there is cross-over with a previous cast, they will use sponsor housing for the first week or two, hosted by patrons. They are as a whole, lovely older couples who adore the theatre. Recently they've added additional housing for larger shows in a complex further away that is of lower quality, though still not awful by any means. If you live at Eagle Crest, ask for the van be available for primary use by residents there. The van is notoriously an issue, so be reasonable and patient. Nearly everything is walking distance anyway, including target/walmart/trader joe's.

    Costumes: Incredible. Amazing. The costume designer and costume ladies are your life saver and work their ass off to make everyone look wonderful. Don't be afraid to speak up if something isn't working, but again, don't be diva about a button.

    Shop: It is amazing the theatre sets that come out of the shop. They do not make you strike or load in, so please be kind and appreciative. They work their asses off to provide the playground and magic that we live for. Amazing fly space, depth to the stage, AND wing space. Like I said, its basically a regional house.

    Audiences: Appreciative but quiet. Classic shows get much more attendance due to the retirement community nearby, but they have a large following of little old ladies. Be kind to them at meet-and-greet and they will cheer you on and send their bridge playing friends.

    Pay: Standard Non-Eq pay, on the higher end. Negotiation is key. Don't be greedy, but don't roll over and play dead. Know your role, your offer, and the scale of the show, then negotiate from there.

    As with any other theatre, if you walk in there and work hard, and are eager to help, they will take care of you. Yes, you will help with scene changes, and the Deck Manager is one of the coolest gals who KNOWS HER SHIT, and always looks out for you. Oh, and wear shoes at all times.

    I Heart ABT.

    I don't heart ABT. Financial issues with cash flow, poor planning and lack of quality management. This extends all the way up to the Klaphakes.

    08/27/2015  3:10pm
  • A fantastic place to work! 03/28/2012  5:40pm

    I have never been treated better than I was at Arizona Broadway Theatre. The pay was excellent, the theater is brand new (they custom-built it to suit their needs), the people were talented and wonderful to work with, and the housing was great. Brand new townhouses across the street from the theatre. I heard a rumor that they pay men more than women, but I was very happy with the salary I negotiated and they paid for my flight, too. At the end of the run, we even got a press packet with all of the great reviews and press releases from the show. Overall, I would be thrilled to work there again (and hope to soon!)

    I agree with everything this review says and just had to come on here to rave about my experience. I just worked there, and it is a fantastic place to work, run by people who truly believe in what they're doing. Sets and costumes are above and beyond your average non-equity production, and everyone who works behind the scenes is lovely. They have a great fan following in the area and Phoenix has a vibrant theatre scene, in general. Loved it!

    05/25/2012  12:02pm

    Can someone post what "standard non Eq" pay is? Even better if someone would post what ABT actually pays?

    04/21/2014  5:13pm

    $325 "rehearsal stipend" and then $325 per week for performances. i'm told it goes up if you work there a lot, but i'm really not a fan of the rehearsal stipend concept as you're working much harder in rehearsals and for two-three weeks ugh

    12/14/2014  12:17pm
  • Good and not so good.    
    11/18/2013  9:09pm

    The Klaphakes rule their little empire with an iron fist. Those who will rebut this statement are those who will readily kiss up to them for roles. The Mrs. is cast in many of the cherry roles each season, whether she's right for them or not. The Mr. directs from time to time, but seems a little less eager to perform. For a while, this was a catch-all for people that got shut out at the other reputable theatres in town; now they hire about 30 percent local, 70 percent from NYC auditions and such.

    I've heard that if you spout about your classical music training and bandy about your pedagogy and such, they feel more comfortable around you. The theatre is run largely like an opera, so that explains that. It's also true that the pay is not super for 8-9 shows a week, and there's no actor meals offered. Sad for a dinner theatre to do that.

    The shows are really hit-or-miss. They bring in ringer friends to spice up some productions...other performers are cast in nearly everything, and you'll find yourself asking "good god...are these people just kept around to make her look good???"

    You could do a whole lot better for your career than to shlep out for one of their shows and deal with all the drama. Go to a reputable regional or dinner theatre and save yourself the grief.

    Rude and condescending technicians and unresponsive/apathetic company management try the patience of the performers and create an unwelcome atmosphere. Feels more like high school at times, especially when the cast is treated like children. The space is gorgeous, the shows are alright. The housing is fine but you'll probably share a room unless you're a lead; and really, no wifi? Some of the apartments are prettier than others, and some cast members live completely off-site in other housing.

    The resident choreographer/artistic director does fantastic work, and is warm and hilarious.

    There are some systematic problems here that need to be addressed before this theatre gets 5 stars.

    01/19/2014  1:54am
  • Great Theatre!    
    11/20/2013  7:43pm

    I absolutely loved performing at ABT! The theatre is operated by many friendly, professional, talented, and hard working individuals. The space is amazing with a nice size stage. The productions are pretty good for the most part. The sound could be better. Pay is not bad. I would definitely negotiate... Housing is clean with Hot tub, pool, and gym at apartments. Apartments are walking distance from the theatre and really close to many stores. Their is also a house for actors which is nice and cozy. The actors in the house will use the company van for the run of the show. My ONLY concern was no internet in some of the actors housing! You can use wifi at the apartment office or at the theatre.I would go back in a heart beat!

  • ABT is a great place to start!    
    09/18/2012  9:16pm

    Like stated below, the staff at ABT is very friendly and amicable.

    They do professional quality regional work, 8 shows a year, they run their rehearsals as if it were a union rehearsal, and have built a rather good subscription base for their few years in existence. Kudos to them for all that. (Even if 90% of the audience is 80 years old or more)

    The theatre and facilities are top-notch (the lobby is gorgeous and has a full-bar) and the production values are top-notch for a non-union house.

    The sound system is not great, but everyone gets a mic, even if you are a dancer. Hopefully they will upgrade their sound system soon.

    We also had a very VERY professional and responsive Stage Manager who was never mean, condescending or sassy and always willing to address a question or concern. She used to be deck manager I believe. She rocks.

    The costumer is also very responsive and organized and her assistants help run the show backstage.

    TONS of shopping around (almost annoying how many options) within walking distance of both the theatre and condos.

    The condos are a 5 minute walk from the theatre, but are not very well stocked, furnished or clean. Don't get me wrong, they have beds and couches and utensils, but it various drastically from apartment to apartment. Company management should standardize this better and perhaps they will. (We had 4 big pots and yet only a small frying pan in ours while one apartment had no pots to start out with). The carpets are stained from previous casts, and though our apartments were cleaned before we arrived, there was still a lot of dust around and grime around. And you more than likely will share a room, most with twin beds. In short, it could be worse, it certainly could be better.

    The pay is "ok" overall. Though for 8 or sometimes 9 show weeks and what they charge for tickets, it should be better. Negotiating is definitely worth a shot, though I had no luck on my first contract.

    You don't get comp tickets and they don't feed you (even though they are a dinner theatre!)-- but you do get a few discount tickets for family or friends for the run.

    The janky van as mentioned below can only have a few people on the insurance at a time and really isn't for exploring. So unless you have a few local cast members in the show willing to drive you around, it is very hard to get out to explore Phoenix or nearby surroundings. That being said, many people took trips to Sedona, Grand Caynon and other places on our Mondays off and the staff was even open to lending out their vehicles.

    Company management and the producers sometimes take a while to respond to questions via email, and sometimes don't at all. Doesn't hurt to send a reminder email or touch base in person on a day-off.

    Overall, they are a GREAT theatre to start out at, especially if it is a role you are hoping to put on that resume. I have no doubt they will get even better. They also are very loyal to their actors and hire many back, show after show. There isn't extra "perks" at the theatre (per diem, meals, company cars, etc)--- but it is a great place to start out.

    Worth it overall.

  • Delightful    
    07/19/2012  11:08pm

    I agree with all the below posters. ABT is a great place to work, and is run by a group of people that truly love their jobs and their actors.

    Production quality is high, with a gorgeous theatre built exactly to their specifications. Definitely not your "average" dinner theatre. They have a largely older crowd, but they are still definitely appreciative.

    The production staff is great, from costumes, to sets, to hair/makeup. All are very friendly and great at what they do!

    James, the company manager is a wonderful guy who will go out of his way to help you if you need it.

    Apartments are down the street from the theatre and are fully appointed/furnished. Pool, hot tub, and access to an onsite gym. The only (minor) downside is there is no wifi in the apts, but the apt clubhouse and theatre have access. Target, Trader Joe's, Barnes and Noble, and other shops are right behind the apartments. There's a likelihood you'll be in sponsor housing at the very beginning of your contract for a few days, but the sponsors are older and lovely, and some will even come to the shows if they are still in town.

    There are also "after dark" cabarets twice during the run where you can sign up to perform after the show. It's a fun creative outlet to keep you fresh if you want it!

    I loved my time at ABT and hope to be back soon!