Gig&Tell: Missoula Children's Theatre

  • An Incredible Life Chapter, But Just One Please    
    06/29/2016  11:22pm

    I came here to make a post about my time with MCT and found many more like it. I did a three month summer contract and I learned A TON. It was an amazing live chapter, as I stated in the title, and I learned invaluable skills, made lifelong friends, and became a better theatre-artist and human. I learned about nearly every facet of what it takes to put on a show, and my theatre-stamina went through the roof. I got to see new places. I got to drive a tractor and shoot a gun. I got to taste fried bull testicles. It was crazy and awesome.

    That said, I made almost no money and the job is HARD. It's hard enough living out of a suit case, but living out of a suit case and confined to a little red truck for a minimum of three months, while making nearly nothing can be SUPER. DUPER. TOUGH. Fortunately my tour partner and I loved each other, but not every duo is so lucky. I don't imagine I'll rejoin the ranks of the MCT TAD's anytime soon, but I know many who do.

  • Loved it!    
    06/06/2015  12:31pm

    I spent 15 months touring with MCT, and I really did love it. It's not for everyone, as mentioned in other reviews, but for the right people, it's a pretty incredible job.

    The travel opportunities alone are amazing. I saw and experienced so much of the USA. You and your partner are in charge of driving from town to town, but it makes for a really cool road trip that you can (within reason) customize to see some pretty cool places along the way. I also had the chance to spend a summer in Europe and spring break in Bahrain with the company-- all expenses (other than food) paid.

    Housing is always provided-- and you'll ALWAYS have your own room whether it's in a hotel or with a host family.

    The money is decent considering that you have really no expenses other than your food. I was able to save a nice chunk of cash!

    Everyone who works in the "home office" is wonderful. They have all worked as tour actors with the company, so they truly understand what it's like out there. I always felt very supported and appreciated, even from thousands of miles away. It's very much an open door policy with these folks, and they want to help.

    If you love kids, love travel, have an easy going demeanor, like meeting new people, and are not in it for the "fame," DEFINITELY take the job. It was one of the best choices I've ever made.

  • Best Job I Never Want To Do Again    
    03/26/2015  10:09pm

    Pros: Great what you do for kids.

    Cons: Company definitely is making a hell of alot of money and not paying what it should to the people earning the money for them.

    Conclusion: Do the job only if you can focus on the altruistic side of things.

  • Wonderful job for the right person.    
    03/29/2012  12:18am

    I really really enjoyed my experience with MCT. I will be the first to admit that it's not a job for everyone - you need to be really flexible and super passionate about working with kids. But if you are, it'll be a fantastic adventure.

    You travel with a partner to a different city each week. You alternate acting/directing duties with a cast of local kids. Oh yeah, and you teach them the whole show in five days.

    You have per diem and housing provided each week (sometimes it's a hotel, sometimes a homestay - both have their pros and cons). You travel in a pick-up truck, so be prepared for lots of driving. You live in a dorm while you're training in Missoula. Travel is not covered (which, honestly, is the only negative thing I have to say about them).

    Pay is not great but livable while you're on the road. I was able to save up enough to cover several months rent in NYC.

    Everyone on staff is sweet, professional, and truly dedicated to doing good work. My time there was a really special experience.

    I just finished a year on the road with MCT and I have to say I really enjoyed the experience. I will also say, though, that you have to know what you're getting into and you have to be the right person for the job.

    The above poster pretty much had the general outline of the job set. In a sentence, you and your tour partner drive from town to town in a pickup truck and teach local kids a show over the course of a week. More specifically: You arrive in a town on Sunday, meet the kids on Monday, audition them all (we had anywhere from 17 kids all the way up to 150 kids on my tour) in 2 hours, cast them, and immediately start rehearsal. You have 2 more hours on Monday and then 4 hours of rehearsal on T, W, Th, and F. Then, you have one or two performances on Saturday depending on what the town wants. As soon as the last show is over, you pack up the truck and drive to the next place on Sunday to start it all over. In addition to the show itself, you also perform Workshops, usually in schools, during the days. It's a whirlwind, for sure, but you do have a chance for some downtime if a town wants their performances on Friday- then you get all of Saturday off! This happens occasionally. You also have a chance for a break if a week is unbooked, which happens relatively often. You also get vacations around the holidays and between tours (there's Summer, Fall, and Winter/Spring tour).

    One TAD (Tour Actor/Director) performs in the show while the other is backstage to help maintain sanity backstage - except if an important cast member drops out or you have too few actors to fill the roles, in which case both TADs can perform. Usually teams will alternate who performs, so you get to be onstage every other week. The job is obviously about much more than performing, though. You carry the show. You are the director, stage manager, actor, running crew, stagehands, makeup artist, costume staff, financial book keeper, everything. You have to deal with financial paperwork weekly to get reimbursed for expendables, you unload/put up the set and other equipment and re-load it every week, you do all the show laundry every week, etc. It sounds like a lot, but after a while it all really becomes part of the rhythm of a normal week.

    Working with MCT is a great way to explore the country, and even to go abroad! Usually you have to work for the company for a year before they'll really send you international, but on my tour I did have an opportunity to fly to Alaska with my show, which was SO COOL. I got to see Mt. Rushmore, I got to lie on the beach in Texas, I got to see the Redwood Forests in California. It was an amazing year.

    The pay is not great, but if you have your expenses covered at home (GET A SUBLETTER), you'll be fine. You get a monthly salary, a weekly per diem, and a bonus based on how many weeks you've successfully completed. The home staff is largely totally awesome and will do whatever they can to help you out: I had to leave the tour for 2 separate weeks to be in 2 separate weddings, and they helped me make it happen by finding Fill-Ins to take my place.

    Maybe most importantly, though, MCT brings theater to a lot of places where there's no chance for the kids to experience the arts at all. I went to a town in Montana with 400 people where we were the school play. I went to a town in Washington with 200 people that had just started a music program in 2011. BTW, there's a documentary called "The Little Red Truck" that is a behind-the-scenes look at what MCT does; I'd recommend watching that for more info. You really feel like you're doing something important when you work with MCT. You and your work are valued and respected. If you have the opportunity to work with MCT and you think it could be a good fit for you, do it!

    05/11/2012  12:05am

    Wow sorry, that was long. But MCT is awesome!

    05/11/2012  12:05am

    I was suppose to do a year tour with Missoula.

    I signed a letter of intent then TWO months later I got the contract which as clauses not explained in the letter of intent.

    I turned it down because they're allowed to fire you with a month's notice but if you quit you have to give them two months PLUS be financially responsible for your replacement.

    They aren't paying enough to be responsible for someone else to take your place. I.E., paying for your replacements travel and hotel to get where you are. PLUS I felt that I'd spend all my money on flights home during the breaks. - they actually told me that I should spend Christmas in Missoula. Like really????

    I maybe would have done the contract if I was offered the summer. But not a year.

    You have nothing going for you at ALL in NYC - no work, no lease, no agent, and you like kids and wanna direct? Take the job.

    09/18/2012  10:19pm

    Missoula Children's Theatre has really set up a great company. All of their staff are previous Tour Actor/Directors (TADs) who have done the job before, and they always have the answer to every "what if" scenario. It's a fantastic community to come back to at the end of every seasonal tour.

    Although performing is part of the job, it really is a small part. The vast majority is teaching/directing. Weeks will be very up and down. You'll have times with amazingly well-behaved and talented kids and times when you're on a military base and you basically serve as a way for kids to do something for 2 hours a day. The driving can be long hours, but you can experience some really awesome parts of the country you've never seen before.

    The pay wasn't stellar, but I saved a lot of money on the road by grocery shopping and not indulging in expensive hobbies when in towns. I was basically able to balance out my student loans, plus have some money on the side.

    If you'd like to try it, I would say apply for the summer tour, which is only 3 months. Otherwise, there are 5, 8, and 12 month contracts.

    08/21/2013  12:45pm