I just finished a show in Christmastown, the contract was early November through the first weekend of January. Yes you are paid hourly but you work almost ten hours a day when the shows begin so it starts to add up and as ensemble the paychecks really aren't that bad. If you get a lead role then paychecks are actually really good. Housing isn't the greatest but also isn't the worst. They charge you approximately 200 dollars in rent a month but they do nice things for you like cooking a Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner free of charge. The most important thing however is the quality of the shows. And the quality is super good and way above expectations. Your directors are also top notch with credits from New York City Ballet, Broadway, etc. You have to keep in mind that it's tough to work here because you are doing up to 6 shows a day everyday. For a theme park it's probably as good as it's going to get besides maybe Disney or Universal but also a job that you should only take when you don't have anything else going on/ need to build your resume.
For a short contract, would you reccomend the IHV housing or seeking a small lease? Thanks!
IHV is a refurbished motel. College dorm almost. I actually found it to be nice (different poster than the OP BTW). I would agree with everything the person above said. Better than expected. For a short contract I would say stay in IHV for sure.
I actually stayed in IHV for a long period of time. The first 2 months weren't that bad, as the majority of the international kids hadn't arrived yet so it was pretty chill...But then once the summer starts it's kind of a shit show. You get used to not really being able to use the kitchen because it's so crowded, and honestly, you're so busy during the core season that you're not spending much time there anyways. Invest in a crockpot...It really depends on your values..I decided to save a little bit of money and not be as isolated staying in an apartment with ONLY performers. I was lucky to have a really cool roommate and a solid group of friends/neighbors at IHV, but that was my individual experience. Some people hated it an consequently moved out...I'd say see how you feel about IHV and then if you want to move out, you can.
Hi! I just got an offer for Christmas town. Can any of you who have worked there tell me if there's compensation for any overtime? And if you guys had to sign a non-compete agreement?
Next year, if I didn't have anything lined up, I would definitely consider coming back to Busch!
And here's why:
You get to work with some calibur talent from the cast to the production team, and get to work with some wonderful broadway vets--i.e. Lisa Shriver.
I learned a lot on this contract. Mostly about stamina. Doing 18 shows a weekend (6 shows/day Friday-Sunday)--albeit 25 minute shows--is a little rough to get used to. The shows are quick, so it's high energy from the word go, no real ebb and flow there. I learned about what it really means to take care of myself in order to make it though those weekends.
What I also learned is that corporate "theatre" is not for everyone. Is it my FAVORITE thing in the world? No. Is it a chance to be performing? Yes. The rules and regulations about clock in times, rehearsals, etc took a little getting used to, but you do.
Had an offer to stay for Christmas Town but due some personal circumstances, I unfortunately couldn't. I would have in a heart beat. The main reason why? The people.
One of the many things Busch does right--and let's face it no place is perfect and it does have some flaws--is that they are able to find some real QUALITY people. It is like coming to work with family every day, and the other casts that are working through out the park become part of an extended family. Each day you meet someone new and I love that.
So all in all, I've had a great experience here. Virginia is wonderful. The show has been fun and challenging at times. The people are amazing. I would definitely come back next year for Howl-O-Scream/Christmas Town if I didn't already have something lined up.
I spent two years with BGW, performing for both their Howl-O-Scream and Christmastown seasons. The people I met there were some of the best performers and best human beings I've ever met. The experience was 'eh'.
Pay is hourly. Most roles are going to be 14/hr. Principal and Swing roles are 19/hr. Housing isn't usually offered during the core season (Late March -September). This year (2014) housing for Halloween was 49/week. Housing offered is at a former motel called the International Housing Village. Laundry is free but the kitchen is located in another building from where you are.
If you're lucky you'll be in a show that has a current or former Broadway professional directing or choregraphing for example: Lisa Shriver, Matt West, Sam Buntrock, and Karma Camp to name a few.
The scripts are going to be awful at worst and confusing at best. Management is going to treat you like a piece of equipment to be used and abused. (There's only one male and female swing each to cover all the dancing tracks and another pair for the singing tracks.) The entertainment dept's VP (the creative head of the park) is a former stage manager obsessed with putting sparkles on everything. Needless to say most interactions with management, the writers and producers (usually the same guy, a lightening designer who's trying his hand at producing and writing) will be infuriating or creatively soul-crushing.
All that being said, it IS a job at a theme park. The surrounding area is very nice with decent shopping and good food (Try CookOut for your binge eating). You're only an $80 bus ride (round trip) to NYC so take any gig that's better at first notice.
I really don't think it's as bad as people make it sound. Theme park jobs are naturally very cooperate-y. I think the quality of the shows were very good compared to most theme park work I've seen. Management was a little difficult to get ahold of, but flexible for the most part. I will say, dancers got hurt a lot, but as a singer, our vocal health was taken very seriously. I was lucky enough to work with a very professional director and stage manager. The hourly pay, in nature, just sucks. But once you got past the first two weeks of only thurs-sunday shows, the hours picked up, and I made just as much as any other regional job.
I do understand some people weren't as lucky to have a good production team, so I understand circumstantial complaints. But as someone who has worked fairly consistently for a few years, it really wasn't that bad. I just think some people don't know what they're getting into when they sign up for theme park work.
Word of advice: Make sure to get any offer, including housing, in WRITING! MANY people got screwed into paying out of pocket for piece-of-shit, rundown, bug-infested housing...so protect yourselves and your bank accounts. This issue alone will deter me from ever returning. PLEASE get this info in writing.
The job itself is pretty stellar--I have no complaints with that. Quality shows. Great talent. Amazing directors/choreographers. Some of the best friends for life.
Worst part: the housing situation. It would be worth it to round up some friends and rent a place. With six shows a day, not having a safe, clean place to unwind at the end of the day is no bueno. There are short term leases in the area, look em up! Your bodies and your sanity deserve it. Trust me.
Hi there! You mentioned take a better gig if possible- How does Busch react if you need to break a contract? do they fine you?
It's not a contract, it's a contingent offer of employment, worded, just so, to where they can do pretty much anything they want with you, and you can hardly do a thing about it. They can switcth you to a new show three days before opening, and it't totally legal. Don.t work.here. Please.
There's an old 2013 thread on them and it's all true. Secondly, if you break it, you can't work for them for at least a year, but you wouldn't get hired back anyway, since you're basically blacklisted for doing so. But ironically enough there's maybe one or two people who've quit who THEY have asked back, because they were in essence desperate. You're a wamr body to fill space here, not talent. I can't say this enough.
There are not enough words to do my experience here justice. It will all start off as what they call "a very exciting offer". They will paint the picture to be glamorous and and an offer that you cannot refuse.
In fact, they make false offers to people promising them "shows" which actors come to find out are really photo op positions upon arrival. It's one thing if the actor knows what they're signing up for and another to be promised a "made up show" that doesn't exist. Another scenario: in one show, actors were offered roles that didn't even exist!
Let's talk about housing. Despite what they tell you, the living accommodations are NOT FREE. Nor are they homely. When my contract began, they did not even have housing available and stuck all the performers in the Econolodge (while still charging a daily housing fee). The housing at the International Housing Village is SO bad that I didn't even want to leave the Econolodge. Hairballs all over the floor... they give you disgusting and old cleaning utensils to clean your room with. Imagine the hostel that you don't want to stay at and that's what you get at the IHV.
The only good thing about this gig is the 12 day rehearsal period when (if you're lucky) you get the opportunity to work with Broadway greats. From my experience, once our directors left and the show had opened, the head of entertainment came in, cut numbers, and asked actors to come up with their own choreography for "new numbers" with NO guidance.
Pay is decent. However, after the lack of respect and treatment that you get from the Entertainment department, no money is worth that abuse. It's as corporate as gigs come.
Travel stipend? What they DON'T tell you is that they tax the shit out of it so you barely get anything when all is said and done.
Don't waste your time. And if you do, get everything in writing (but honestly they are so corporate that they will even get around that bc their contracts are titled "conditional agreements".)
EXACTLY EXACTLY EXACTLY. Guys beware, these are NOT contracts!! It's exactly as said here, 'conditions offers' or in my day "contingent offers'. Either way, same difference if you will. Please guys, just...save yourselves. Don't.do.it.
Glad to see I wasn't the only one
I was holding off reviewing, when I saw the BG's were up, even though I was hoping they would be so I could review, but in light of the recent events, I can't not say anything.
As you all may know, the CEO has stepped down and lay offs followed, etc. Now crap has been going on behind the scenes for quite some time, but this just killed all respect I used to have for my former employer...
This is only the tip of the iceberg as to what you'll see/deal with if you took a job there.
I'm crying inside because some of these layoffs were people who had been there since they themselves began as a performer in the 80's or even earlier, and they ACTUALLY cared about the performers they hired, hence why people flocked in the HORDS to work there before all this mess began trickling down back in 2009 when a new company bought the park, a new head of entertainment, new president of the park, etc. Everyone who worked there at that time says the same thing. I started the year after, and saw nothing but a downhill slope from there.
One of these individuals was one of their casting decision makers, who is an incredible person, and here I'll won't name to protect anonymity (although I'm sure a few who worked there anytime 2013 and before will know who I mean). This person was someone who we realized too late that was FOR the performers, but couldn't let on much, and couldn't do much about it because this persons' hands were tied by the 'devil incarnate' that is that head of entertainment. This person was demoted at first, and I saw even worse treatment of the performers and now this person is no longer there, being a 'lay off casualty' of the whole SeaWorld mess...and trust me, it's a mess spanning the whole company, for partially obvious reasons *coughblackfishcough*, but I'll reserve my BF opinion for somewhere else. Now that this person isn't there AT ALL anymore, I see nothing but HORRID treatment of the performers this 2015 season, it's only going to get worse. This man (head of ENT)will, and has, fired people just for having an opinion differing from his, those who may disagree with him, so therefore he eliminates his 'opponents' so to speak, basically like politicians...and yes I saw this happen during my second time there, one day out of nowhere, an ENT admin who was very close position under him, was fired merely for stating an opinion. His mind works exactly like the worst of any crook of a politician.
Too many I know personally were gotten rid of just for this, or not hired back for no good reason, did a great job, kept their nose clean (as much as one can) and out of nowhere weren't hired back...and these are people who again, had been there for quite some time. I know we're all 'replaceable' to an extent, but it's gotten to the 'throw away' mindset, you are like any piece of throwaway trash here. In this day and age of employers treating their employees like 'liabilities rather than assets' they take this beyond anything I've ever considered 'normal employee/employer relations'.
People have gotten injured and nothing much was done, if at all, the swings (actually almost everyone) have next to no rehearsal time anymore, and then can be thrown into the mix suddenly, into an already re-blocked show, and this has happened more than once, one to a friend, and she and a few others nearly got hurt because of that stupidity. And also was told IN THE MIDDLE of a show number to switch tracks..WHAT NOW?? Everyone professional I've spoken to says that NEVER should have happened...you let the re-block happen or if it gets too complicated to re-block, cancel the show.
Let me put it this way...I have a pretty high tolerance for crap in general, it takes a ton, and I mean that, for me to reach my breaking point. This place made me reach and breach it. And when I reach that place, you know you have problems.
People are no longer flocking to work here...hmmm, coincidence? The word has gotten around and I've heard there is nowhere near the amount of auditioners anymore because of the word of mouth from former employees. And because of that, they just need bodies to fill roles, not for the reason that you were talented/right for it, you are just filler. Please...save yourself any trouble, just don't audition here...please. I'm not a sour grape crier, as I've already said about my tolerance level. And if you do, beware of taking it. And that being said, if anything does go awry, PLEASE don't be afraid to let Bob know, because, to my knowledge he has been 'lied to' about a few things work there. I've only come across him once, he seems FANTASTIC, really understanding, and sometimes wonder why he decided to be a CD for this place. I apologize for this rant...probably too much concealed for too long I guess.
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