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Gig&Tell: La Comedia Dinner Theatre

  • Think Seriously About Accepting Here    
    08/12/2018  10:16am

    So with all the recent posts about actor's experiences at La Comedia I just wanted to share my experience in a pretty neutral fashion. I'll try to go through it all from the beginning of my experience to the end.

    Pay is pretty standard here with no room for negotiating. 300 a week for shows, 300 total for rehearsal (2 weeks) and 10 dollar travel stipend if flying. The tickets they get you are the basic economy ticket which only include a personal item. So for a 10 week contract where you most likely plan on bringing two suitcases, be prepared for a 60 dollar baggage fee both ways.

    Housing is very nice upon arrival, my cast was lucky enough to not have to share rooms for the first two weeks since the previous cast had already left. Typically at La Comedia, the first two weeks are spent in the upstairs part of housing which have 4ish beds to a room while the previous cast finishes out their shows. The company does not provide a company car even though they have one that sits in front of housing every day. Housing is also directly across from the theatre which is extremely convenient. They also provide a free membership to a YMCA; however, it is 3 miles away which makes it unusable.

    The day after arriving we had an orientation that was pretty standard explanation of rules and what they expect of us on this contract. There are a lot of rules which everyone knows, and it seems as if most of them come from one person many years ago doing something stupid. As a result La Comedia makes a new rule and attaches a fine with it. The no phones in the theatre rule was a very contentious one, mainly because they tell you that cell phones interrupt their headset signals. They use this argument while the entire production team is on their phones, the whole audience is on their phones, and half the waiters use their phones without a hiccup.

    When rehearsal started, our cast found out that we'd be rehearsing in the theatre for the entire process since the previous cast had already left and the set had been struck. Typically, casts rehearse in the scene shop which is filled with sawdust and an awful place to rehearse. Rehearsals were typically from 10AM - 6PM with a 90 minute lunch break. Rehearsals themselves were very chaotic and unorganized. The creative team generally showed up 15 minutes late and didn't start until 30 minutes past our call. The rehearsal schedule was generally thrown out after the first hour because they were either behind or just wanted to do completely different things.

    The Director/Choreographer has a background in Show Choir and it is definitely apparent. He gives no room for actors to grow into characters, and gives line readings all day long. It was a really frustrating part and a contentious issue among the cast. Choreography for our show was minimal, which made perfect sense, but what was there was decent choreography--albeit slightly over choreographed.

    The Production Manager is your rehearsal Stage Manager and she's very good at her job. She tends to talk down to people though, which is honestly a trend at La Comedia, and many rehearsals were ended in a negative manner with threatens of fines instead of a positive way that made people excited to come back to rehearsal, or just proud of their work.

    The Music Director was the saving grace of the show, but he was jobbed in from NYC. He bought all the wigs in the show because the ones provided by the theatre were falling apart and were kept in horrible condition. Music rehearsals were sometimes unorganized and chaotic but he was very helpful in one on one sessions and created a really nice group sound.

    Costume design is typically a standout feature at La Comedia, as someone in Baltimore hand builds the costumes and sends them to the theatre. However, for our production they decided to not use his services and tried to costume design the show with what they had in storage. The issue is that the theatre does not have a costume designer, just an incredible stitcher who unfortunately has zero background in costume design. Many times I would be called for a fitting and end up pulling costumes myself, since there was nothing prepared for me. This combined with the theatre's general dislike of spending money meant that many costumes were finished by the actors who bought pieces with their own money and were never reimbursed.

    The set was visually pleasing to look at, but was extremely dangerous. In rehearsals actors would rehearse on set pieces that were not anchored down, and in many instances fell off of them when they shifted. This prompted nothing from the creative team until the cast refused to rehearse until we felt safe on the set. Also, many pieces of the set had nails and screws sticking out which were never removed and as a result cut multiple actors. Edges of the stage had zero glowtape and the wings were never lit which created terrifying exits from the stage during scene changes.

    Once the show was opened we received a new stage manager, and started working with the sound technician and the stage hand. All three had a very negative view of actors and talked down to the actors on a daily basis. The stage manager spoke only in threats and refused to actually check in on actors when they got hurt or were sick. The stage hand never paid attention during the show and missed multiple prop handoffs, presets, and gos, but would blame her mistakes on the actors. After multiple mistakes by the stage hand, actors were told to add it to their own track; however, most of the actors had absolutely full tracks and adding something 3 weeks into the run should not be happening. A secondary issue of this being that these additional presets were a finable issue for the actors, but that stage hand would receive no punishment. The sound technician showed a general attitude of laziness, and mics were consistently off on entrances. One actor needed an off stage monitor, and halfway through the run the monitor failed. It was never fixed and for the final fourish weeks of the run the actor had no monitor for his many offstage vocals and lines.

    And finally, there's Dave. He doesn't own the theatre anymore, but he still makes all artistic decisions. He is very rude. And yes, he did ask one our female actors to bend over so he could make sure her breasts would not fall out of her dress. It was horrifying to watch it happen and he did stare. I'm not sure who below is saying it did not happen but the whole cast was on stage for that moment during tech.

    The issue of La Comedia really is the people. It's a beautiful theatre, with nice housing and pretty decent non-equity pay. You would think that's all you need for a solid gig. But a theatre full of negative attitudes and rude coworkers ruins an experience in ways I never knew it could. I will never be returning to La Comedia, but if you think you can manage rude people and brush them off, then go ahead and accept that contract and put that dream role on your resume.

    The stagehand I assume you’re referring to is Laura, who was literally asleep in the wings during one of our productions during a scene when she was responsible for a major scene transition. Our set had a lot of moving parts and hydraulics that she was (for some reason) in charge of operating and often (I’m talking at least 5 times) she nearly ran over several actors with them during live shows. When anyone spoke up about safety issues, we were pretty much ignored or blamed ourselves by Dave, and many times were screamed at by him for problems actually caused by the crew or the SM (while Chris and Joe either backed him up or stood behind him in silence because they’re terrified of him for some reason even though he doesn’t actually run the place anymore).

    These people literally have no regard for their actors’ safety, wellbeing, or happiness. No one will ever stand up to Dave, even though he has no business being around anymore, and who has literally said verbatim that the actors are the least important part of La Comedia, and likes to remind the actors at any given moment how they are easily replaceable.

    09/18/2018  2:39pm
  • Higher standards    
    08/11/2018  1:52pm

    Listen, I followed the rules and although I found them annoying and controlling, I didn't have any problems following them. Never got in trouble for using my phone, never opened the window, I washed my dishes, kept my costumes together, showed up on time. I did my job and walked out having formed amazing relationships with my castmates!

    That being said, I can leave saying one major thing. This place is horrible. Signed, Sealed, Delivered! That's it! There have been a list of complaints that don't even mention the rules. Complaints about safety, communication, professionalism, and honestly, standards. There's a post here that claims that the people who complain are snobs but you know what, why audition in NYC if you don't want NYC actors with NYC standards. This place is perfect for a local or a college student or someone without a lot of experience, or someone who literally just wants to sing and dance for 4 days out of the week. But once you've worked at major theatre houses, theme parks, national tours, cruise ships...... once you've seen what actual professional theatre is and then go to place like this, I guess you'll be a snob too.

  • Just follow the rules.    
    07/19/2018  1:46am

    Everyone has a problem with La Comedia because they cannot seem to follow rules out in place. If you do what you are told, and don’t give the management an extra headache on top of what they already have due to dealing with snobby actors, you will find that working for this theater has its ups and downs but is far from the disaster show these reviews make it out to be. As for the girl claiming management forced her to bend down to see her boobs that is a down right lie. Please take these reviews with a fine grain of salt as a lot of the people posting are just wining about being reprimanded for not following the rules that are in the contract they signed.

    It’s your staff that doesn’t follow the rules, that’s the issue. They miss cues, talk about inappropriate things to each other on the headset, smoke in the non smoking area, have horrible communication skills, and all around they don’t do their job properly. To make it worst this whole theater company refuses to take any accountability for their mishaps. It’s more than just “following the rules” because even when you do that, a cast is still left with an incompetent and disrespectful theater company that only cares about doing the bare minimum for money. La Comedia’s success is not based on how well they run a production but on talented professional actors who save the show every night...along with the patrons who come to see us performers because we all know that food is trash.

    07/19/2018  8:11am

    ummm okay Kris. I was there and i personally witnessed dave ask a girl to bend over and look at her boobs. all these people cant be lying. la chlamydia is clearly never going to get better if you keep denying the problems that exists smhh. you're not slick kris

    08/09/2018  11:24pm

    really?! every actor who commented here from 2018 all the way back to 2012 are all snobsss??? kayyyyyy tht makes sense

    08/09/2018  11:26pm

    nobody was talking about rule breaking when it was mentioned that actors in the show had to embarrass themselves by pushing the stage forward cause the stagemanager and stage hand are so stupid the didnt plug the friction drive in but okayyy

    08/09/2018  11:29pm

    I was there too! He definitely asked her to bend over... just because you wern't there at that particular moment doesn't mean it didn't happen. Also Dave treats you like dirt so why defend him when you don't even know what happened?!?

    08/11/2018  1:47pm
  • Don't say you weren't warned.    
    06/28/2018  2:11am

    Listen, everything said about here is absolutely true. You'll get there and within your first week, you'll start to understand everything said here. Let me tell you though, being Black is not the wave in Springboro Ohio. We've had black castmates be called the n word straight to their face in a public park. This is not the place to be if you are melanated. The movie Get Out couldn't be more appropriate. Believe That! Moving on, I just want to go into specifics about my experience at La Chlamydia. Let's start from the beginning. The airport. Not only are you in charge of paying for your own luggage. But the gag is, this theatre is sooo cheap, they buy the cheapest tickets ever for their actors. Your seat won't include a carryon. Just a personal item. So you'll have to check your carryon too. #basiceconomy. Our first morning of rehearsal. I needed to reclaim my time because they woke us up at 8am to pretty much read our contracts to us. As if we aren't adults. You've already read that there are ridiculous rules here but get this, we were told after we were 'caught' sitting on the front yard of housing, that our contract forbids loitering. How can I be loitering if I live here?!?!?! Our stage manager did't know the show! She was on vacation during our rehearsal period. She didn't come in until our 4th day of tech. One performance, a actor straight up wasn't on stage and she didn't notice. But best believe you'll get a note about not moving the set fast enough despite the fact that you were just performing! Management is useless and disgusting. We had to start a show without an actor one time and the people in the first scene with that actor were told 5 mins to places. When asked for some time to map out the show, the stage manager, started crying and saying she was just the messenger. ARE YOU SERIOUS? YOU'RE THE STAGE MANAGER. How was it she was crying like we weren't the ones embarrassing ourselves on stage obviously trying to cover for a missing person. This was the first time an actor cried out of embarrassment. They have this moving stage that runs on a friction drive. It's constantly not working. Mostly cause those fools backstage didn't check if it was plugged in. We had it shut down during a performance because of course they don't do preshow checks. We had to hold the show over 30 mins while they tried to figure out what was wrong. They finally came to the conclusion that the show needed to go on and we, the actors, were going to have to push the set. When asked if the servers were available to help, the stage manager never even considered that option. USELESS. We literally had actors pushing on entire sets to sing their song and push it off after. Entirely visible to the audience. This is the second time an actor cried out of embarrassment. What's even crazier is the call time. You are called at the same time everyday but they don't start the show at the same time. It depends on the audience size. So some days you'll have an hour to get ready and other days, you'll have 10 minutes. There were several days that actors were straight up not ready when show calls started happening. When trying to tell the stage manager that they were far from ready, actors were straight up IGNORED! Like management is so disrespectful that they won't even acknowledge you. I know for a fact that they would have started the show with not a single person on stage. We've had our stage manager bust into the the dressing room without even knocking while people are ass out naked. When asked if she could knock in the future, she started going on about fining us if we were caught on our cell phones since we clearly are only asking for someone entering a dressing room to knock just so we can use our phones. That's the only reason to ever need to knock smh. Never to respect anyone's bodies or privacy. And yes, that includes both genders. Don't even get me started on Dave so I won't. Let's talk about costumes real quick. We were not supplied with shoes or wigs. We straight up bought our stuff so we didn't look stupid on stage. And they still had the nerve to ask for our shoes when we were striking after closing. YOU KNOW DAMN WELL YOU DIDN'T BUY THESE! WHY YOU ASKING FOR THEM? I would rather have burned everything then to even give this theatre a bobby pin. I'm tired of thinking back on such a negative experience. This is all so triggering. So take my advice, don't do it!

    oh my gosh YES! everything you said! also i WILL go into it about Dave... what a DICK! I've never met someone so rude in my life. One time he asked one of the actors during dress rehearsal to bend over to ensure her boobs didn't pop out of her dress... HOW YOU GUNNA ASK SOMEONE TO BEND OVER TO LOOK AT THEIR BREASTS?!? Can you say sexual harassment? Shoutout to Joe for trying to pick up his brothers slack. And don't get me started on communication. One time our show was straight up cancelled and they didn't notify anyone. We had locals and stagehands (sorry stageHAND) showing up to a cancelled show. Do yourself a favor and pick up an extra shift at Red Lobster! Don't do it!

    06/28/2018  2:35am

    Honestly, from what I have seen from this theatre in the current show, these reviews are undeserved. I would certainly take the post about “La Chlamydia” with a grain of salt since it was written by a diva who lost her mind over a puzzle (but I digress… my point is that, often, people’s problems are self-created). Almost everything that is complained about endlessly on this page is stuff that is gone over in great detail over the phone before you accept as well as on the first day. If you’re going to complain about things that are stipulated in your contract (or that the owners went over the contract with you) perhaps you should simply not sign it in the first place. These are simply cases of people who knew the rules are presumed they didn’t apply to them. I have had exactly zero issues since choosing to work with La Comedia and I would work with them again in a heartbeat. As far as the comments about children go, the children of our cast have been treated with nothing but respect and cared for appropriately. Consider this. This is a small professional theatre company that ensures that their youth have activities during shows to keep them occupied, adult supervision at all times, are fed, not overworked (two casts so no child is doing more than 3-4 shows per week instead of the full 7) and maintains regular communication with parents. Not to mention a cast that includes both teachers and parents that are more than happy to jump in and help with the kiddos. I would have zero issue sending my own kids to work with them. And as I scroll down through these posts… if you are seriously going to complain about an establishment that boasts a signature dish of beer battered cod smelling of cod… I have nothing for you. You should obviously find a new career.

    07/17/2018  7:16pm

    So you consider saying disrespectful comments like calling a young girl a bitch to her face proper treatment? Or wanting children to hold the stage together while the cast dance on it because the theater forgot to latch the stage together, taking care of their well being? Thank God as a cast we stook up for them. We made sure to looked after them and proctect them. It wasn’t until the tail end of the run when we found out that Chris Bieser was accused of watching child pornography on a school issued laptop when he use to be a teacher. Google it. This is not a safe place for children.

    07/18/2018  10:16pm

    stood**

    07/18/2018  10:19pm

    maybe that diva lost her mind over a puzzle cause springboro ohio is exactly where someone would lose their mind.

    08/09/2018  11:37pm

    I don't think being sexually harassed was in the contract... yikes! Always read the fine print right?!? Smh!

    08/11/2018  1:29pm

    Also it's super per easy to say what we said isn't true when you're an all white cast with children. Try being a diverse cast full of adults. Totally different experience and nothing said was a lie. Wish we could post videos on this because literally everything said happened! Have some standards, please.

    08/11/2018  1:40pm
  • If you respect yourself, DONT DO IT!!!!!...Childern should not work here! 07/13/2018  9:01am

    Unfortunately everything that has been said previously about this theater; their work ethic, professionalism and common respect for the actors is true. On top of all that, they are also very racist. At the end of the day you are an adult and would have to make the best decision for you BUT if you have children who has a contract (or would like to) with the company, I would say be careful. Please do your research on who works there and their background before sending your children to work with this company. You will be surprise what you find when you google “Chris Beiser teacher”...who is the residential director. This place isn’t for children and there have been many times during the run of the show where they (LC Staff) wanted to put the children in the cast in harms way because of their (LC) negligence!! But as a cast we would not allow that to happen. I would advice anyone interested in auditioning to really rethink that choice, and if you are cast and decide to take the contract, then may God be with you.

    Advise**

    07/13/2018  9:03am

    If you were to actually research into what Chris Beiser was accused of you would see that he was never accused of watching child pornography but instead was accused of opening an email containing x rated content which resulted in his school issued laptop being seized. No children were present in the class room no children came foreword to say they saw Chris watching pornography even tho a letter was mailed to every student Chris has ever taught over a period of 7 years. Forensics came back clean that there was no child pornography on any of Christopher’s own computers or the school issued laptop. He resigned on his own and no charges were ever brought on Chris. Also this occurred in 2007 it’s 2018 he’s worked there 12 years. You should actually do some digging before you try to blast an innocent man on the internet.

    07/19/2018  1:40am

    m.fox19.com

    If I was innocent I wouldn’t resign...

    07/20/2018  2:23pm
    07/20/2018  2:27pm

    And if it were child pornography or if he were showing it to children he would have been put on the sex offender registry and unable to get a job at McDonalds, let alone La Comedia. Obviously a mistake, but no children were put at risk. Definitely do your research before you go about making libelous statements that could and should get you sued. The children in the current run of Annie have been treated great and both the SM and Chris have been wonderful with them (along with everyone on the production team and cast). I'm a teacher myself and would have zero issue sending my kids to work here or go to their summer camp.

    07/21/2018  11:02am

    Kris or whoever from La Comedia I don’t need to be sued. La Comedia needs to be sued! This theater did not equally treat all the children well. A child should not be called a bitch. Yes Laura did that, along with other things. This is an evil place that only cares about their money so maybe you should know all your dirty laundry before defending it blindly. So again parents be careful with sending your children to the wolves in sheeps clothing.

    07/21/2018  11:46pm
  • A Bad Taste Of Broadway    
    07/19/2018  8:43am

    La Comedia Dinner Theatre literally plagiarized the show I was in from the YouTube Broadway recording. The director was straight up stealing from Broadway all the way to the promo video which Kris Byerly said she wrote the script for it. It’s unfortunate. Their slogan should change from “A taste of Broadway” to The theft of Broadway.

  • Hell no!    
    02/28/2018  4:45pm

    La Comedia's head staff is awful. Dave Atkins has literally told the actors in the 3 shows I've done there, that they are the least important part of the theatre, right behind the dishwashers. The pay is abysmal, the rules are ridiculous, and the shows are very low quality. I once was fined $20 dollars for failing to reset a prop that was not mine to reset. Some of the people you meet there are very talented, but its very hard to create a good show with sets painted with milk-based paint that sticks to your shoes and comes off of the floor, leaving these "professional" shows looking very amateur. Not to mention the tracks used to accompany shows that sound like they were created using children's instruments.
    The stage is used before the show for the buffet, which would be fine if they adequately cleaned the stage after serving dinner. Multiple times did castmates and I suffer strained hips and backs from slipping on a piece of sweet potato casserole. The in house director/choreographer is more like a line reader who should be choreographing show choir instead of musicals.
    housing is adequate, and even though bare, probably the only redeemable thing about the company. Too bad half the casts are made up of locals, and locals are not allowed in housing, causing a divide in the casts. DO NOT WORK HERE. I only did three shows here because I was 18 and desperate to perform, and this almost turned me away from theatre completely. Lastly, the rehearsal space is in a moldy shed full of nails and dust that will dry your voice out and give you nodes. HARD PASS.

    Ps. The theatre smells like cod 24/7

  • NOPE!    
    10/03/2017  10:53pm

    PLEASE do not do a contract here, professional actors! I had worked here several years ago, and came back to do a show here this 2017 season. I was not going to say anything, however a friend received an offer for an upcoming show and I told her to reject the offer- then I thought: why shouldn't everyone be warned?!

    -The management is rude and will not even acknowledge you backstage/in a hallway unless you literally shout their name/bombard them- even then they are unappreciative and generally unpleasant. Forget about a "thank you", never mind an opening night party or even a space to hold one (since local actors/personnel aren't even allowed in housing)

    -so many crazy rules, and definitely a crackdown on "no phones backstage" because it interferes with their ancient sound system/5lb body mics that are always breaking

    -There is no company car and the gym is an hour and 20 minute walk from the theatre. If you are lucky, other company members may have a car.

    -moldy/damp/dusty rehearsal and performance conditions

    It is honestly better to stay in NYC and make some money/take a great class/ etc. This place has a worsening reputation in the theatre world, and until/unless actors are treated and paid fairly for the work they do here, it is NOT WORTH your time. Most places I have worked I would recommend, however this place is not "what you make it" unless you have a car, but then you are spending your sad salary on gas money while the owners rake in the rewards of your labor. I do not mind getting paid less at a respectful, modest establishment, however, pay rates have not gone up here in over ten years, while profits most certainly have. If you respect yourself/ your mental and physical health, do not audition!

  • It's All About What You Make Of It 08/11/2016  6:49pm

    I will TRY to keep this short.
    I had a great time working for this theatre and would 100% return, but some of what you read on here is totally true. There are odd rules, yes, BUT they are there because of past situations. You can't open the windows, but thats simply because there are no screens, so they don't want bugs to get in....why is that horrible? Housing is above par or non eq and though I may not have agreed with all the rules, I signed the contract and followed them no matter how lousy. I did however have some people in my cast that thought they were too good to be at La Comedia, so they complained about EVERYTHING, therefore tainting their experience. Dave Adkins treated our entire cast with respect and I think even the Divas of our show would agree that in certain situations he even became our saving grace. If you treat the production team with respect, they will take good care of you. I think no matter where you go, there will be frustrating aspects of every contract, so if you are a humble human being who follows the rules YOU agreed to by signing the contract, you will have a great time, and now have a great role on your resume.

  • DON'T. DO. IT. 04/15/2016  12:55am

    This is by far the WORST place someone could work. As an EMC I have worked at a ton of professional theaters, and NEVER have I experienced something so terrible. I can't tell you how many times I checked my contract to see what the policy on giving a notice was.

    First of all, if you're local, don't even consider auditioning unless it's the Christmas show. They like the look of there actors being brought in from NY, even if the people brought in aren't as good as the locals. BUT, for the Christmas show and first small show in January/February, they cast locals because it's when they clean out the housing unit.

    The rules are ridiculous, you are not allowed to have a phone inside the building or you will be fired on the spot. No one local is allowed inside the housing unit for ANY reason. You cannot take any photos in costume, nor do you get the cast photos they take of you.

    The director is a disgrace to the word. He is a choreographer who knows how to block a scene. As for acting choices, you can't make those. I believe a direct quote from him, was "You don't have time to act. Just say the words." The producer Dave Atkins, is the most horrible human being, who knows nothing about theatre, yet gets to make all of the major artistic decisions. The stage hand talks/yells full voice during the show, and curses and yells at people for no reason, even if there are children around.

    The pay is pretty bad. I got paid $300 a week being an out of towner, but a friend of mine who was local got paid $100 a week.

    My advice when auditioning for this company? DON'T.