Gig&Tell: La Comedia Dinner Theatre

  • 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.

  • Why would you go...    
    02/11/2016  8:40pm

    I was recently offered a job with LaComedia. Everywhere they posted notices for auditions, they said they would pay $300 per week. After getting cast, the contract they handed me said $125, because I offered to live at home - my family lives near there. They qualified me as a "local actor" and wouldn't accept me as anything else - no matter what I auditioned under. I told them I would be willing to do extra duties to make up the gap -dance captain, understudy, child wrangle. They ignored my calls and said actors don't get to negotiate salaries. What a load of crock. I told them to shove it.

    The music director of the production was a friend of mine. He told me my track was replaced by a high schooler they refused to pay. Apparently the director/producer/jack ass constantly berated the children cast in the show as well as the actors. He informed me the company has more than enough money to pay actors decent wages - but refuse to do so out of pure greed.

    I've worked some pretty shitty jobs. But it looks like I dodged a bullet on this one. I only hope that it can help someone else avoid a miserable time. No matter how bad you want a role on your resume - being treated like garbage is unacceptable, and as long as people keep working their contracts, they'll continue screwing people over. Be careful

  • Stay Away 10/19/2015  4:20pm

    I really hate writing bad reviews; however, I think actors need to know what they are getting into before signing a contract with La Comedia.

    I worked for LC once before years ago and had a decent experience. Housing is pretty nice for non equity- that's the highlight. They are not welcoming people, yes, there are a TON of rules, and yes, actors are treated like children (more on that later). It is not an "artistic" experience- it's a way to get a good role on your resume. On that contract, another actor was injured on the job- a moving set piece ran over her foot (there are few lights backstage and safety is not always the priority) she had a very difficult time getting the producer to pay for her to get care. He even threatened to take legal action against her (this, of course, never happened, because it would never hold up in court).

    Now on to my most recent experience. I agreed to return to La Comedia to play one of my favorite roles. A week or so after signing the contract, I received a more appealing offer from another theatre. I emailed the producer immediately- giving him six weeks notice before I'd need to leave. In addition to giving 6 weeks notice (the contract requires 4) I offered to perform the first half of the contract and pay for my own flight back. Alternatively, I offered to come back and finish the contract when my other contract was over (I would've been gone a total of 3 weeks). In addition, I offered to train a replacement, teaching her all choreo, blocking, etc. These things were not required of me, but I wanted to make the transition as easy as possible for LC. In response, the producer claimed that the contract said the actor is required to give 4 weeks notice only once the show has opened, claiming that there is NO OUT for the actor before and during rehearsals. (This, of course, is NOT how the contract actually reads- it says "four weeks notice beginning 4 weeks prior to the rehearsal period and continuing though the end of the performance period" ). Also, what kind of a theatre gives NO OUT to their actors? He also threatened legal action immediately, saying that it "shouldn't be too difficult" because he knows I'll "have a paycheck coming in". We went back and forth on the phone a bit, and finally, after multiple attempts to follow up with him on on my part, I received a voicemail from the producer telling me to go ahead and come to Ohio to start rehearsals.

    On the first day of rehearsal, I walked in, met everyone, and was told to "gather my things" and come to the office, where I was told I was fired and had ONE HOUR to pack my bags and get out of housing. They flew me out to Ohio, only to fire me and leave me to pay for my own way home. I asked for a couple more hours to book a flight, and was told no. Someone watched me pack my bags so that they made sure I didn't destroy the housing on the way out.
    I believe in "what goes around, comes around" and also just treating people with respect, which is why I tried to do the right thing by giving the theatre as much notice as possible when I was offered another contract. In this business, this happens all the time. The idea that a theatre would fly an actor out only to fire her and leave her to provide for a way home (not to mention humiliate her by having her come in to rehearsal and then call her to the office in front of everyone) is shocking.

    If that isn't enough:
    -Rehearsal pay is painfully low, and a $75 housing deposit is taken out of that. The theatre does not pay for any airline baggage fees.
    -In our kitchen, there was MOLD in the coffee pot and tea maker
    -Absolutely no cell phone use allowed (including texting and internet) in the rehearsal building, theatre, or backstage
    -No pay for understudies (and you are told you are an understudy after starting the contract)
    -Actors are not allowed to open your windows- you could be terminated from the contract. In addition to this, there are about a zillion housing rules that could lead to a fine or termination.
    Directly from the contract-
    "Rehearsals take place in our year round scene shop. Work continues throughout rehearsal time, and the shop can be very dirty. Glass, screws, and nails could have been missed in clean up."

    Sorry for the novel. Just really take these things into consideration before accepting an offer here.

  • Very good experience    
    04/11/2012  3:59pm

    I really liked working for this company. People used to complain about Dave Atkins, the producer, but I believe he's pulled back on actual interaction or enforcement of many issues; at least on our show I think I can count the number of times I spoke with him on one hand.

    The pay is fair enough, everything stated in the contract was fair, everything stated was TRUE, the living conditions are WAY above par for non-eq (unless it's an unusually large out of town cast, you get a private room in a brand new building built by the theatre for the actors, literally 30 seconds away from the stage door). Would recommend to others.

    I just recently finished a gig at La Comedia this spring and it was the absolute worst experience I've ever had working for a theatre. I was not allowed to open the windows in my housing without being fined. And there were numerous other fines that were listed on page 8 of the contract besides. rnrn This is a theatre that could be great, were it not for Dave Atkins, the producer and owner, who treats his actors like trash. The moment I knew I never wanted to come back was when I heard him say "An actor is easier to find than a good dishwasher, and cheaper too." If you desperately need a job, I urge you to still not take it. You will get more respect working at McDonalds, or as a waiter, or wherever, but this place is not worth your time just so you can be an employed actor. rnrn Everyone I worked with agreed with me and had little if anything good to say about this place. If I could give it negative stars for a rating, I would.

    05/26/2012  5:31pm

    Awful, just awful

    08/13/2012  11:31pm

    Have completed two contracts at La Comedia and had a positive experience overall. Yes, there are a lot of rules. Truly. However, if you can follow the rules, it's a fine place to work for decent non-eq pay. The contract includes meals before each performance as well as a membership to the local YMCA. My only complaint is toward the quality of the rehearsal space, which also serves as a scene shop.

    09/09/2012  11:11pm

    STAY AWAY!

    Worst regional theatre experience of my life. Dave Atkins is not an artist of any sort and treats actors like GARBAGE!
    -housing is...nice.
    -no company car so you are stranded off off the highway with no supplied transportation to get anywhere INCLUDING the YMCA which they provide you a membership to, the only redeeming quality. But the YMCA is 2 1/2 miles away...again no company car, and no sidewalks to walk there, you are walking off the shoulders on the high way with cars going 65mph.
    -my show was a "remount" of the production that they did literally 10 years ago with a different dir. My dir had to use the same set and lighting plot. No creativity or enjoyment from the director, that was obvious. We were yelled at and told we were the most disrespectful cast ever t that theatre, which is just not true...it was a ***t show from start to end and every cast member worked their tails off.
    -the pay is pretty much as low as you can get for a "standard pay" for non union gigs at 300 a week. But after taxes and getting paid every two weeks you actually make 515ish every two weeks. Hard to live a life off of that, don't you think?
    -NOT ALLOWED to rearranged yours own room, open your window, change room for any reason, when fed (only convenient to feed the actors since its a dinner theatre) but the actors aren't allowed to eat SALAD!! NOT ALLOWED!! But you can have seconds of their sweet potato pie and fried fish.

    Only do it if you haven't done a show and need a kick start with your career again. After I was done with this experience I stopped doing theatre for a year and a half. But no worries I recovered and I'm doing great.

    11/19/2012  10:24pm

    I had an overall good experience there.
    Cons:
    No Crew. Actors move sets, pull curtains etc.
    Rehearsal Space-Dusty, cold scene-shop
    Springboro is quite boring without a car
    Pay is hard to live off of
    No orchestra. Tracks used.
    Pros:
    Local actors are amazingly sweet
    Residence is comfy and well equipped
    GAC gym next door is AMAZING and cheap
    Audience is always gracious and lovely
    They pay all adult actors, even less experienced locals

    I'd work there again, but I'm sure I'd be sick of it after the second time, mainly due to the boring location.

    01/24/2013  7:44pm

    Dave Adkins is not an "artistic director," he's a "producer." Should give you some clues about how this place is run. He's so concerned about his patrons, he forgets that his actors are clients, too. I won't even consider auditioning for La Comedia again until he's gone.

    Some examples:
    - Never once said anything like "welcome to Ohio." Our out-of-town actor meeting began with, "here are the rules."
    - Stupid rules: no opening windows, ever. (Burn something in the oven? Too bad! Can't open the window!) No local actors in housing. Don't move the furniture in your room. No talking to waitstaff whatsoever.
    - Can't have a drying rack in the kitchen. When an actor bought one, Dave threw it out.
    - Threatened to fire actors for "not doing their jobs" when tech rehearsal took far longer than expected--mostly due to his friction drive breaking down and needing to be removed.
    - Yelled at actors because their pants were hemmed too low (the ACTORS… not the costumer)
    - Yelled at an out-of-town actor for having a half-sink of dirty dishes while the rest of the kitchen was spotless. "We don't pay you to keep this place such a damn mess." <-- his words
    - Told an actor "you're not allowed to make mistakes" after forgetting to bring a prop onstage
    - Pays for 8 shows a week even if you're doing 10
    - The one time he expressed concern for an actor's safety, it was his niece

    Bottom line:
    If you have tolerance for a company being run in the iron fist of tyranny, then you'll do fine here. I didn't.

    01/31/2013  12:47pm

    I completely agree with the original post. I honestly had a great time working here and I think my cast would agree. The housing was really nice- there's a living room, a huge kitchen, everyone had their own bedrooms and I shared a bathroom with one other person. The pay is totally normal for non-eq, and the free meals are a great way to save a little cash. I had a great 3 months there and can't really think of much to complain about.

    02/28/2013  8:54pm

    While I worked La Comedia, I heard an urban legend that La Comedia was the reason nonequitydeputy.com was created back in the day (RIP), and after seeing this place for myself, I believe it. Let me break the experience down for you:

    Pro: The checks clear.
    Pro: Wing space is generous, and the stage is ample.
    Pro: Rehearsals before tech don’t generally go longer than 6 hours a day.
    Pro: There are liquid refreshments (coffee, water, lemonade, tea) available backstage.
    Pro: For most of the contract you will have a single room.
    Pro: You can walk to a grocery store and post office. You have a free YMCA membership but that requires a car.
    Pro: Talented and loyal local actors.
    Pro: You don’t have to do any set building/painting or strike.
    Pro: Supposedly the good cop (see below) will be taking the reins more in the future.

    Con: They “cover your travel.” This means they buy your plane ticket and give you $10. But keep in mind it’s $25 for 1 checked bag, and you have to bring or buy all your own bedding, so it’s more likely you’ll be paying $60 for 2 checked bags…each way. Expect to pay a bare minimum of $50 for travel expense, not counting getting yourself to and from the airport.
    Con: You will be treated by the management with alternating attitudes of pandering condescension and shameless bullying. There’s a bizarre good cop/bad cop dynamic here, except the good cop doesn’t ever seem to get a say.
    Con: There is no company manager. There is a production manager who sort of comes close, but chances are he’s also your director and didn’t want to be, and can’t wait for the show to open so he can pass the buck and whatever’s going on is someone else’s problem.
    Con: If you are chosen as dance captain, please understand you will be doing all the responsibility of an associate choreographer, with neither credit nor pay bump.
    Con: With some small exception, you will find out if you cover a role the day that tech week begins.
    Con: The management are baffled and have no idea what you’re talking about if you suggest trying to follow industry standard safety procedures when your show uses a live gun loaded with blanks.
    Con: Get ready to move some sets!
    Con: Prepare for your environment to perpetually smell like fried frozen fish.
    Con: Your rehearsals will take place in the scene shop. Cast members had to wear face masks to try and filter out the sawdust (I’ve heard in the summertime they keep the shop door open to let fresh air in, but that doesn’t change the fact that you find yourself saying, “Hey, where’s my script? OH RIGHT HERE NEXT TO THE TABLE SAW.”)
    Con: Worst tech experience of my life. The lighting guy they repeatedly use does not write any cues until you are in tech. The stage manager does not control the tech, because she’s too busy being bullied, herself.
    Con: Despite being built as a theater, the floor is concrete underneath.
    Con: Fire ants.
    Con: Meet and greet after every show.
    Con: The double standard is alive and well in Springboro, OH! Points for irony if your show is actually about respecting women. Extra points if you have questionable relations with one of the local teenagers--they will probably offer you more roles.
    Con: Micromanaging rules in the house that seem silly at first will turn to maddening rules once the rest of the theater drives you crazy. Don’t even think about cracking a window…
    Con: The micromanaging takes a creepy turn when the house stage manager watches you change in the dressing room because the theater management doesn’t trust the actors to wear their mics (or accept an actor’s word if he says he is already wearing his mic). Also, expect to initial that you've read "notes" telling actors things as base as "You must flush the toilet before you move out of the actor housing." Never had to sign off to an employer that I agreed to flush the toilet before. Good thing they told me!

    Some people definitely like this place, and I don't begrudge them that. I know I'm splitting hairs here, but I wish I had known these things before I had worked here. Suffice it to say, I'll never work in that town again.

    05/02/2013  11:42am

    After a contract there not long ago, I scraped and scrubbed the soles of my show shoes and cannot get the layer of black goo off them!

    07/17/2013  8:03pm

    Ok listen to me everyone.
    Having just worked at La Comedia this summer I have the most recent info on the place. Joe Atkins is the official owner but the awful old owner Dave Atkins still basically runs the place.

    Yes there are a lot of rules, some pretty silly ones like, not being able to open your own window, but as long as you follow those rules then you can have a really great time here. It was my favorite cast I have ever worked with ever, we all were bawling when we were saying bye to each other, you get your own room, which is very un-common in non-equity regional. you can even bring your own tv and they provide cable. All in all, its a nice place to work if you can put up with a little bit of bullshit,just don't get stuck doing multiple contracts there, it's very easy to fall into that trap, hope I could help!

    10/12/2013  9:24pm

    Wow, okay so here's the deal. La Comedia is simply not a theater that's for the actor. Plain and simple. The owners simply don't understand what we do as actors. Its just about making money to them.

    The most stressful, unprofessional part of the contract is the rehearsal period. The rehearsal process had no rules for breaks, an SM that would rather bitch about prior shows, with one on to keep the director on task. your contract said your rehearses start at 10am but you'll be called at 9am. We didn't have a dance captain for the first week and a half - which is a problem if the director is doubling as the prop master, pulling props, and your SM calling the other show in the theater. The chorus won't really know their understudy roles until you open.

    Also, unless your director is from NYC, you'll get Chris. Good choreographer, but sometimes the story suffers. (Show choir background). As an actor, I've never had to justify my characters actions with the blocking I've been given. Sometimes, you'll be thinking, "Why is my character doing this?This doesn't make sense."...Use your BFA to direct yourself.

    About the buffet. The food is good, but so heavy. I wouldn't eat that before a show. It'll make you fell sluggish and tired.

    Reasons the theater isn't for the actor:

    You'll never see a single photo from photo call. They won't put your website on your bio no matter how much you write it in the draft. You have to buy your own mic type, to which they use sandwich bags instead of condoms for the mic packs. (They find ways to cut cost all the time.)

    The vocal director, and costume lady are the best people you'll work with at the theater. Plus the locals they get are overall very nice and you'll wanna spend time exploring with them. Once you're in performances, you'll do your show and the rest of your life there is yours.

    If you can bring a car, DO IT.

    Look, if you have nothing going on in NYC and need a break, you get cast in a part you've been dying to play, and you can afford to only make $300 a week for performances, and $300 for two weeks of rehearsals, take it. Get the experience, the role on the resume and peace out. Just don't let them bully you and just put your foot down when things aren't really great. - also about the rules. Yes there's a lot but no one at the theater is making sure the rules are followed all the time. My cast had cell phones at the theater, I've opened my window (though bugs do get it, they just need screens), we had a dish rack. Get through the first three weeks and its overall smooth sailing.

    Good luck!

    07/04/2014  11:27am

    Don't do it... Just don't...

    I worked here while in college, because it was close to home, and I didn't have success at SETC that year...

    As a local, they paid me $100 a week.. which, after taxes was about $75... it almost all went into my gas tank.

    Around our 4th performance of the show, the "producer" fired me on the spot for not taking a tech note ( that I was never given.)The Stage Manager immediately spoke with him, and they un-fired me... From that moment on, the producer made the rest of the 2 months miserable for me. I'm a kind, sweet person, and he treated me like complete idiot scum... talked down to me, and yelled at me. I should mention that when the VERY minor tech accident occured, the producer stormed back stage, and yelled at me in the wings as I was about to go on.

    ... The Producer is so incredibly rude, and unprofessional, and as long as he is there, I won't even bother auditioning.

    Also... Local actors weren't allowed in housing.

    Pros-
    -Paychecks were always given on time
    - We were allowed to eat from the dinner buffet before the show... except salad.
    -The Stage Manager is wonderful.
    - Anything you need is in walking distance of housing... it's right next to a Kroger, and if you like fast food, there are a few fast food places down the road.
    - They provide you with free YMCA membership for the duration of your contract... so as long as you can GET to the YMCA ( Maybe team up with a local?) you can get into the YMCA.

    Honestly, though... outside of most of the cast being absolutely wonderful to work with, this was an awful experience for me, and being a local, I've heard many horror stories about this place. I do not recommend working here, unless you really need the money...

    10/24/2014  10:44pm

    You do NOT want to work for this theatre.

    12/12/2014  11:53pm

    Good company with issues as any but know that the previous owner doesn't bother too much nowadays. Look for the positives, follow the rules, do your job and avoid any drama and you'll be fine!

    12/30/2014  11:13pm

    Go to La Comedia if you want to play a good part and do a long run. Contracts are 10 weeks. 2 weeks of rehearsal and then an 8 week run. $300/week. Hard schedule. 3 double show days in the week. You do get Monday and Tuesday off. The resident director choreographer does not really direct. Not the most artistic fulfilling experience. Housing is pretty good. Usually you have your own room in a dorm style house. The rules that everyone talks about are there because of idiots in the past. If you focus on the positive and don't get bogged down in to bullshit you'll do fine. I highly recommend having a car or befriending someone with one. If not, you will feel trapped in the parking lot with only McDonald's, a grocery store, k mart, and Applebee's nearby. Rehearsal and theatre conditions are ok. Tech is rough. You perform to tracked music. I had a great time because I loved the show and cast I was with. It's a job and a stepping stone. You can do it.

    03/02/2015  4:52pm

    I am fairly certain that this is the theatre Summer In Ohio is written about. The rehearsal process was infuriating - making your own choices was discouraged and actors were subjected to kneeling/dancing on cement floors and breathing in the saw dust from the scene shop. Tech was degrading. Dave Atkins, the "retired" producer shows up and degrades the women I the cast and humiliates the men. Nothing you do is good enough for him and he makes it quite clear that the actors are the least important people in the building to him. Housing is nice. It's a new facility but it comes with a laundry list of ridiculous rules. The windows can't be opened. You can't invite the local actors into the house. You can't rearrange your furniture. In addition, there's no company car, the laundry machines don't work, and the showers and bathrooms smell like mold. At the theatre, conditions are about the same. Stage is cement. Audiences are bored and unresponsive. Stage manager is a nasty, bitter woman who misses cues and works on other projects during he show and who only fines people she doesn't like. And now let me end with a story. As closing approached, we weren't given our flight info until three days before closing. All the info we got was "You're flight is at 6:00AM. Be ready to leave housing at 3:00AM." Fine. We are dropped off at the airport, get to the check in desk and are told that our itinerary doesn't exist. So here we are, actors stranded in a dumpy airport at 4:30 in the morning, unable to do anything because we didn't book the flight and the entire staff is sleeping and doesn't know how to communicate with each other. All in all this was a soul sucking, disheartening experience as an actor. Nobody likes to feel unappreciated. But in my time at La Comedia it was made very clear to me that they do nothing more than the bare minimum for their actors and that The Atkins family bank account is far more important to them than the emotional, physical or mental well being of the humans that work for them. Don't work here.

    05/04/2015  5:33am