So after reading the wild drama about this, I felt compelled to post my experience here!
First of all, the theater is a small town summer stock run by a wonderful family who are very gracious to their actors. The housing isn't the best, but I had zero serious problems with it and I was there for 8+ weeks. Some rooms are better than others, but it's luck of the draw I suppose. Let's be real though, if you are spending most of your time inside the cast house when you are surrounded by nature with a fire pit outside your door and the ability to see amazing stars and mountains all around you each night and day, you are doing The Theater Barn wrong.
It's non-union summer stock pay, I think $250/wk. which is better than some of the non-union stipends you will get at many other places and they are always on-time with checks. You will literally get it every Sunday.
The smaller shows are GREAT. They have some great directors who know the space and use it well. Big shows are definitely not their forte but they do what they can with them. But as I said, their smaller shows are actually pretty great.
They get some really great directors to come in and work with their actors (and they also usually hire some great talent too) but like everywhere sometimes bizarre directors slip through.
Its about 2 hours from NYC and if you aren't rehearsing, they only perform Thurs-Sun so you can come back to NYC and audition. You are also 30 minutes from the Mac, Barrington Stage, and other professional theaters so their is a great theater community surrounding the area.
This place is what you make of it. I personally met amazing people, did some fun shows, built my resume up, and had a great experience. Joan and Abe are WONDERFUL PEOPLE who are SO GRATEFUL to their actors and have created something special for building your resume. I would recommend it to anyone looking for some new credits on their resume, anyone who needs to escape the city, and people who are still at the beginning of their careers.
Look at the rest of these gig-and tells, most people have very good things to say about this place. Small town, small theater, small shows, good people.
Theatre Barn provides a great summer theatre experience. Located at the base of the Berkshires, the town is very, very small but the scenery is lovely. Cozy little theatre is clean and well kept. Productions are very good and best of all the roster of shows each season is varied and unusual--they produce interesting titles one never sees in summer stock. Actors are treated with respect and live in your basic 'cast house' just a short walk from the theatre. Producers are warm, friendly down-to-earth people who love theatre and have created a lovely community for actors to work, play, learn and grow.
I agree with a lot of what was said above. The owners are very lovely people who try to make their actors feel welcome. The quality of the shows is very good, especially considering their limited size and budget. They hire great directors and choose interesting material. The theatre is indeed clean and well kept, but that's partially because the actors are responsible for cleaning it. They explain this beforehand and none of the tasks are unreasonable. However there are separate call times for "side work" which can kind of interrupt your day, especially if you have people visiting from out of town. The housing ok, but sort of quirky (one bedroom is only accessible through another bedroom, one is a converted porch). Everybody has a roommate. A cast car is provided, but cannot be driven outside of New Lebanon, so it's really only good for quick errands. There is no grocery store in town and any activities you might want to do will be a 15-20 minute drive, so it's helpful to have a car of your own. Salary is $225 a week. Overall, I had a great experience and would definitely work here again.
Everything which has been said is 100% true. This place is a gem.
-No travel pay provided but at least the Megabus goes there so that's a cheap option.
-Sidework (but it's really easy)
-Can't take company car out of the very small town and there is no grocery store there/not much of anything to do.
-Producers don't let you get your hands on any production recordings or photos for your website and such.
-You will nearly always be sharing a room in the cast house - and as most casthouses go - sometimes you can't get to bed at a reasonable hour if you have a rowdy bunch but, that's to be expected in a casthouse.
-Nearly always have really amazing directors/creative staff to work with.
-Quirky selections rarely done elsewhere but often very well-done/well-received.
-They do a lot with a very limited budget and often the costumes and sets can amaze you.
-These folks respect their performers. They love theatre - but didn't open one after a failed performing career of their own, therefore - no weird power trips/egos. This is rare in a theatre such as this.
-Not much to do in the town = tons of fun with your cast in the casthouse -- silly games, bonfires, lots of great memories.
-Family feel - you, most likely, will enjoy an opportunity to return.
Update - they did raise their pay last summer. I think it is at $250 now! (I think).
The Theater Barn is a classic non union summer stock. The theater has been owned and operated by the Phelps family for 32 years. They are really great, friendly, and welcoming people.
I got to work with a great director, music director, and choreographer. This varied show to show but overall they bring in talented people who work in this business.
The town of New Lebanon is a small country town. However, it is a lovely escape from NYC. Hiking, nature walks, star gazing, bonfires, etc.
Production quality varied show to show, but overall good. They do smaller shows really well. Big musicals are not their forte.
Great opportunity to play great roles and perform in shows not often produced. Every year they pick a "risky" show that they know might not sell well, but is a piece of art they want to produce.
Pay is $250 a week for everyone.
There is a company car to get around town, but this is a contract where you will want a car.
Housing is ok. Basically no private rooms. Depending on cast size the house can be messy, however a house cleaner comes every two weeks.
Side work. It's part of your contract if you are living in the cast house. It only takes 15-30 minutes and is only done on show days. You clean the theatre before audiences arrive.
Schedule can be tough, especially if you are doing multiple shows. A day off every two weeks.
Overall, I had a great experience here. I got to play great roles to help me grow as an actor and grow my resume. I got to work with some excellent people who I would work for again in a heartbeat. This is a great little theatre to start out at.
They make you feel like family. A Great place to start out in the summer stock non-eq world! I loved my time there (2 summers in a row)
Thanks guys. This is helpful. Just got an offer and trying to make up my mind. Someone was mentioning about the "outside work", which I'm guessing means non-acting related responsibilities...can you elaborate? Thanks.
From what I understand it's pretty light stuff--vacuuming the lobby etc. Not anything particularly laborious.
I do not recommend working here. The owners are very kind people who love theater. However, the cast house is not air conditioned (and some rooms do not have windows...in the dead of summer, it is truly miserable) & is just an old house that needs a revamp/deep clean. Could it be worse? Definitely, but it isn't great. They are honest about side work being a thing & helping with strike. However, in your contract it states it is only done on days of shows. Not true. They make you do it sometimes when it wasn't even on your schedule or there aren't shows. Which is very off-putting & deceptive. My time at the Theater Barn has been the most unprofessional I have ever experienced. No one on the "production team" can communicate effectively & therefore, performers look like a mess onstage...or don't have costumes or props. I do not recommend working here if you want a professional experience. The community theater I did as a kid was more professional & organized.
Whoever wrote the comment above this one is being very dramatic and making this great non-Union summer stock sound like hell, when it most definitely is not. I urge people not to make their judgment about this company based on whoever wrote that review because it's inaccurate and rude.
I had a great time at The Theater Barn. To keep my post brief, this theater does small shows very very well. Larger scale production shows suffer because the space isn't large enough for big set pieces.
The housing is fine. One big house with tons of rooms. You get used to it and if you've done a summer stock before, you've probably lived in worse. You can walk to and from the theater and walk into the few things that are in town easily from the cast house.
Long story short, this is a good place to work if you are looking to build a resume, meet some wonderful people, and eat some damn good spinach dip.
Also the "side work" is light light light meaning it quite literally takes 15 minutes. We were never asked to do it on a non-show day and even if you were,15 minutes of sweeping is nothing to get your panties in a bunch about.
If you are a professional, I do not recommend working here. Extremely disorganized management. Information never gets relayed - you're always left confused about scheduling. Cast house HAS NO LOCKS, yes anyone could come in from the outside in the middle of the night. The owners don't have a sense of looking out for their staff - you'll make a request or have a conversation with them to discuss something and and then later they'll have no recollection of it or will not have taken action on it. You feel that you're not valued or taken seriously. Artistic standards are low (high school theatre level).
I've been debating for months now on whether or not to post anything about my experience last summer. But here it goes. The shows themselves are (eh) fine. Nothing earth shattering, nothing that will leave you super inspired, but fine. Pretty standard for small summer stock. The directors they get vary from total nut cases to pretty great, so a lot of your experience depends on the luck of the draw.
Yes, the house has no locks, but honestly, it's a tiny tiny town, nothing is going to happen. I grew up in a town similar to New Lebanon and I never locked a single door in my house until I moved to the city.
Side work is easy AF. If that's really what your complaining about with this place you're being ridiculous.
Now, the reasons I gave this place two stars are: 1) The way they deal with actors when there is a problem. The basic attitude was pretty much "suck it up". There were some issue with the way dietary restrictions were handled for the dinners on two show days, and apparently there was some huge to-do about a cast member asking for a fight call. All things that should easily have been accommodated but the management for some reason made it a huge issue resulting in multiple fights and screaming matches. Which leads me to 2) the way they deal with their tech staff. I constantly witnessed the tech team being spoken to and treated like children. It was especially bad for our stage manager (especially when trying to stick up for her cast in the previously mentioned instances), but no one got away unscathed. The final straw was when the stage manager was called a "waste of f***ing space" (Yes, that is a direct quote) by one of the members of the owning family in front of cast members. It was so incredibly unprofessional, not to mention rude and completely uncalled for, and that incident sealed the deal on my "Never Again" sentiment about this place.
I really have to say I enjoyed myself... I saw some reviews and felt like I should defend tbarn a little. I was a part of multiple shows and found the theatre to be a nice experience. It's cast housing--nothing fancy. But its safe and within walking distance. Bring a car. I'm not sure how some people didn't get a good experience. In general, they bring in good directors and have some cute shows. It's a well-known noneq theatre run by a hilarious/blunt old couple. I would go back next year. Lots of people do.
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