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Gig&Tell: Midtown Arts Center

  • Union vs Non-Union Work Here    
    10/31/2017  2:22am

    This is true of all theaters, but for Midtown especially, make sure to negotiate and receive in writing all the details of your upcoming contract. This is because while the union contracts and expectations are fairly set, the non-union contracts (like many theaters unfortunately) can vary from what you might expect or take for granted.

    They offer only a couple union contracts per production. Housing is provided for both union and non-union unless local. There always seems to be an even mixture of local and out of state actors.

    One of their strengths is they seem to get popular shows early and the talent is usually decent. One of their weaknesses is that the non-union salary is almost always a combination of your performance work and tips from the dinner theatre portion.

    The people in charge mean well though production quality will vary based on which director they are using (they direct in-house and bring in guest directors)

    As one poster mentioned, if non-union, make sure to clarify all your housing / transportation / footwear / make-up needs and expectations in advance for reimbursements vs what is provided. Like many theaters for non-union, this isn't always a "given", though it probably should be.

    Runs are long (usually 2 1/2 months after several weeks of rehearsal) and show schedule is fairly light with only 4-6 performances per week depending on the show.

    Fort Collins itself is one of the bonuses to working at this theatre. Great town for food, hiking, bars, and other outdoor activities.

    For union contracts, it is an easier decision. For non-union work, you should weigh role considerations, building your resume, and working on new productions.

  • It's non union alright 03/04/2013  1:29pm

    Be prepared to not be told to bring your own footwear for shows, your own blacks to wait tables in, work 10 out of 12's every day until opening, to move your own sets and have bugs in your apartment.

    If you want a credit, great, if you have a bunch, don't worry about it.

    First off, read your contract! It's funny how desperate actors are to get a job, skim over the contract an then complain about the policy as soon as they arrive...secondly, do you expect to have 5 hour rehearsals for a show that has a limit of 2 weeks to be put up? Good luck with that! Thirdly, if you don't expect to move sets EVER then you are in the wrong profession! Equity houses even move their sets on occasion! Last but not least, if you see a bug kill it and have the company get an exterminator... Stop complaining about it!!! Be thankful you have a job! Hope that your next contract will pamper you as much as this one....

    03/09/2013  2:56pm

    I have mixed feelings about Midtown.
    Like any Non-union theatre it has it's frustrations, and what you put in is what you get. They liked to cast people they have worked with before, so if it's a good fit, you can stay on or come back for contracts. I found the resident actors and staff very friendly and helpful! Fort Collins and CO are wonderful and you really can't complain when you are working 3/4 days a week and have at least 3 days off to explore.

    Waiting tables, while not really my thing, really wasn't hard at all. I didn't find swapping hats from waiter to actor was very difficult, though I know some people in my cast didn't find it as easy as me. I think they say you make 300-400 a week ($200 salary, plus tips) I never made more then $150 in a night, but I walked out with as little as $40 a few times. My advice would be to write down all of your tips, because a few people I worked with were shorted on their checks. I would say the worst thing about the contract is the side work after waiting tables AND doing a show. But even that, while annoying, only takes about an hour and then you are out of there.

    Again, like any non union theatre, it's not perfect. There are aspects that are frustrating and unorganized. I wasn't told that I needed to provide my own footwear for the show, or that I needed a black collared shirt for waiting, and housing was a bit wonky the first week or two. That said, I was always paid on time ( I'm still not sure why taxes taken out were different each week...I guess depending on your tips?) my housing was decent and I got to put a great show on my resume.

    Midtown is a work in progress, it's not perfect but it's not a bad gig if you are just starting out. Part of me would love to go back, because I had a wonderful time in CO with a great cast, but I'm undecided about working another contract there because of normal non union situations. Again, I firmly believe this contract is a you get what you put into it kind of thing. If you are looking for your equity card and are over non union BS, it's not the place for you. If you want to work in a great town, make some cash, do a show and build your resume, this is your place!

    07/18/2013  12:45pm

    I worked at midtown this past year and ultimately would not go back myself. There is a big draw to work there because of their exciting seasons, but there are just too many problems to deal with.

    Most of the people that work there are very very nice people, some of them even super talented. However, people are spread too thin, not being utilized to their best potentials and always being fired. You don't know who you are to report to because their job titles switch everyday. This leads to the ultimate problem. The producer. He is a bad business man who only sees dollar signs. He's next to impossible to get a hold of so even if you want to work out said issues in other posts, you can't.

    The schedule is awesome (minus cleaning up for over an hour after the show), ft. Collins is great, the shows are fun (when tech stuff actually works), and the people you are around are sweet an like to have fun...if you are just out of college and up for the internship you might learn a lot about yourself as an actor onstage...but that's about it. There are better internships and you should always push yourself for what you're worth.

    Good luck with your decisions and everywhere your career takes you.

    07/19/2013  7:44pm

    I've seen production photos where I've recognized "seasoned" performers standing next to kids who looked like they were just out of high school. This is always a red flag to me. Their productions look both ambitious and under-sized at the same time. Making actors wait tables...well, that's just cheap. I have friends who've played leads there. There is NO dignity to that. Some will complain that you have to do these things as non-eq. My rule of thumb? BE YOUR OWN UNION. You're only the sucker they make you. Say no. When enough people say no, the management is forced to say yes.

    10/31/2013  2:44pm

    My experience has been very good to excellent at this theatre! Wonderful people to work with and I've found the production values to be great--winning awards in a tough market in the Denver area for Les Mis for example. It was very well done!

    I haven't worked with a single "high school kid" yet. They have a roster of seasoned professionals from the area that are often cast and bring in some good talent as well. Colorado State University is right down the road which gives us access to voice faculty for continued study while here.

    Housing is not bad and bedrooms in the apartment are not shared which is a big bonus. As far as the service work--they were upfront about this from the beginning and the tips are a nice bonus on top of the very reasonable weekly pay. Everything people complain about providing shoes etc. above was in my contract, so maybe they didn't read their contract? Intern hours are reasonable and I've learned things about running a theatre that will undoubtedly help me in the industry in the long run. The company manager is always on top of things and looks out for the actors. This has been a great contract for me and I would recommend it to anyone. I guess there are always going to be unhappy people wherever you go.

    03/02/2014  12:21pm

    Hell to the NO!!!!!
    First of all, there were many problems and even turmoil within the company itself.
    The casts seem to usually bond pretty quickly and most of it is out of the fact that they don't like the producer running everything and yet never being there.
    For a place that claims to want artists of all kinds there is a lack of respect. They also give people who are not in the show a lot of power. The lights and sound system was run by 18 to 21 year olds and there were issues everyday.

    The management also says do not treat this like an actual restaurant because we are there to perform, and then every complaint we received was about food and dining. They started shows sometimes and didn't let the cast know to be ready. The cast before us also commented that they would never work there again.

    The pay was not worth the headache when the shows started and the behind the scenes trash talk between the older people who ran the theatre was pathetic. The older white woman who is best friends with the producer is also a shady character and you need to watch out because she will say the harshest things about you when you're not in the room.

    Not a place for people who have been performing for awhile. If you're new and just starting out give it a try and learn what who you would not like to work for.

    03/03/2017  9:32pm

    Haha Well this is mean....

    I just finished my last gig there and I have to say that it was not a bad experience at all. The housing actually rocks. Nicest cast housing I have ever stayed in. They mostly give you your own room and if you are a lead sometimes they put you in a different apartment. The shows are great and sell really well. No you don't always make the $400 a week that they say you are going to make... but then some weeks you make well over that. I was never harassed, Kurt is very nice and his girlfriend works at the theatre. They even threw us a Christmas party and gave us great gifts since we couldn't see our families.

    Tech week can be messy and be prepared to move your own set pieces. Don't expect your paperwork when they say you will get it. But all in all I made a ton of money and our show was awesome.

    04/25/2017  5:28pm

    FYI, this gig is not what is advertised. Was sent a contract offering HALF the salary originally advertised on Backstage. Their reasoning behind advertising it as such is that you "make up the remaining balance of your salary from he gratuity you earn from waiting tables."

    They wouldn't negotiate and after discussing w/a friend who worked there previously for an extended period of time, turned it down. Would not recommend. Shaaaaady.

    06/12/2017  3:36pm
  • Not Glamorous, but Great Place to Work    
    05/03/2015  8:23am

    So yes, it is most definitely non-union. Yes, it is a dinner theatre. And yes, it is "for-profit" theatre.

    Now that that's out of the way (though you already knew that from reading your contract), Midtown Arts Center is a really great place to work. The money is pretty good because you're making tips on top of your base pay. The production quality is actually quite good because the producer cares about his product. (MAC productions have won awards.) And you get to do some really cool shows because MAC doesn't fit the cookie-cutter mold of "dinner theatre". Also, it's only a four-day show schedule, so you have a lot of free time. The housing is also pretty great.

    Also, Fort Collins might be the best suburban city to work in in the entire country. There is so much to do, the views are stunning, and the beer/food scene is absolutely bar-none.

    Here's what sucks, not because of MAC, but because of the job: you have to wait tables. It's the novelty experience for the customers, pure and simple. And you have to clean up and do sidework afterwards. For extra money in my pocket, I'll take it.

    If you're non union, take the job. You will learn something, and you will enjoy your time in Fort Collins. And if you're talented and do your job well, you will be appreciated.

    Just be careful. The shows here are usually good because the talent hired is good and the people who work there are great. What to watch out for is what other reviews are warning about.

    The people in charge. They are not good to work with or for as they make you feel. The managing director's arrogance and manipulation is overwhelming and unfortunately that's what sticks out most about the Midtown experience. It's also what has prompted this review.

    Audition at your own risk is right.

    01/15/2016  3:31pm