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Gig&Tell: Blue Gate Musicals

  • Amish paradise    
    01/30/2015  9:03am

    Great for long sustainable work, the music is great; the shows are new works. This is a new company, but they are growing into something big. Currently with four venues, they have produced three original musicals with a fourth on the way. The better the talent the better the productions. This is a great place to start out or to set roots. If they like you, you'll always be welcome to come back. They provide housing, food, and pay; A package that is competitive with other companies.

    Does anyone have any info on housing for their Bird-in-Hand location? They said it's a private room in a house, but I'm looking for more details.

    03/05/2015  11:12am

    I received an offer from them in the past but I have to admit I'm a little jaded. "Wally" offered me a role in half stitched and I asked for time to sort things out (I had other offers pending and a showcase in two weeks). After granting me time, I contacted two other companies and turn them down only to find out that he had offered the role to another actor. Needless to say I was livid. I had scramble again to find othere work for the summer but it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth about them. So beware.

    04/23/2015  1:29am

    Wally is just used to people dropping out of things on him so sometimes he tries to over cover his bases so that he is not left high and dry. I worked for this company last year and then I extended my contract with them because someone dropped out of an upcoming show and I was a replacement in the first place! The housing is amazing, you get a $500.00 a month food gift card for their restaurant, and you can walk to the theatre. It is a fantastic community of kind and loving people. I would recommend to anyone!
    (I worked in the Shipshewana IN one)

    08/26/2015  3:22pm

    This is a GREAT company. I have worked for them several times and intend to do so again! Wally is a very jovial and kind director, however, it is true that if an offer is made and you don't keep communication VERY open until you make a decision he will move on...he likes to book talent quickly because he knows how our schedules fill up if he doesn't! My first cast was wonderful and there isn't a week that goes by that I am not in touch with most of them. I have also worked at BIH before- Lancaster is a great area in general. There are two cast houses. One is newer and nicer..and one is older but still fine. I've stayed in worse! The houses are split between males and females (no co-ed living). Would highly recommend this company to any level of performer. (They are original shows as some of them are better than others but they do continue to improve and they are seeking to better the "quirky" things in the older shows...) Our audiences always raved over the shows...

    10/25/2015  1:35pm

    For the most part I enjoyed my time with this company, but I will never go back. There is no stage manager, but a general manager who is IN the show with the rest of the cast. This person is allowed to give everyone notes, including the actors who interact with the manager on stage. This is a strange set up in which the manager can nit pick at their scene partner. The manager seems to get away with things that the cast gets talked to about. Also the company chooses who they would like to split contracts up for and who they would not (the show is generally a 7 to 8 month contract). After debating splitting up a contract for several reasons, I was told they were not wanting to have any split contracts. My first day of rehearsal I find that several people are leaving midway through and another was told she could leave early if she wanted. They also decide who they will compensate for housing and who they will not, if you must live out (some of the actors are local/stuck in their lease). Unfortunately, I did not feel as if I were treated the way other cast members were treated.

    I wish these things would not have happened, because for so long I valued and appreciated my Blue Gate family :(

    01/10/2016  4:07am

    My experience with the company has been great. As said, they provide housing, food allowance at their restaurant, and you can walk to the theater from the house. Almost every venue has access to a pool and fitness area as well. Their salary is great especially when compared to other companies who don't provide housing or food. In my experience the cast manager has been careful to not step on toes and not be too picky since they're in the shows. But their job is to keep the show as is and Ive seen some actors take too much Liberty since there's no stage manager to stop them. About the comment of picking and choosing who they compensate for housing in the update above: they partner with the venues. They do not, like most other companies, find housing in the area and then pay your rent. The venue itself that they partner with is contracted to provide the housing. So they aren't liable to provide the housing of your choice if you choose to go out of the housing provided or have another place you need to stay. So that comment I feel is a bit misleading. This is a company of very kind people and the venues themselves are in beautiful communities with some awesome people around.

    03/19/2016  1:15pm

    I have worked for this company on more than one contract and this is my objective opinion.

    PROs :
    -You have great housing. You will never have to share a bedroom and your housing is usually within walking distance to the theater.
    -They will give you an allowance for food at the restaurant that is affiliated with the theater you are working at. If you monitor your spending, you can literally never have to buy food elsewhere. It can get a little boring but you find hacks or ways to keep it interesting and healthy if you put forth the effort. You do have to watch because Amish food is not known for being "light".
    -You typically work with great fellow cast members. I have many life long friends from these contracts.
    -You are paid well for non union standards. If you come back for another contract, you can usually negotiate a raise.
    -If they like you, you can almost always have a job with them.
    -The contracts are usually long so you have consistent work and its a great way to save up some money. Many actors get other jobs on top of the show they are doing because they have so much free time.
    -You are responsible for performing your role in the show or shows and helping with changeovers and deck moves but that is it.
    -Some of the music Wally writes is really beautiful.
    -The areas that you are living in are usually very beautiful and pleasant. Some of them are in more remote Amish areas and others have more city access.

    CONs :
    -The scripts aren't great. The shows are almost always WAY too long and have poor writing. They are melodramatic. However, the Amish country audiences do seem to enjoy them.
    -You have no stage manager. The techs run the show from a booth so its difficult to communicate if there is a problem backstage.
    -You cannot have overnight guests. If you have a significant other or friend who is coming to visit you, they are not permitted to stay with you in your cast housing.
    -The contracts can be REALLY long. I know I listed that as a pro because some folks may consider that a pro. Others may consider it a con to be in one place for 5-9 months doing only one or two shows.
    -You don't get a real "director" in the sense of the word. Wally, who writes the music and does the casting" often comes in to direct. If it is a show they have done before, most of the time is spent with him watching a past DVD and telling you to move to a spot where the actor who played your part before moved. I've even seen him have an actor watch another actor's performance of a song and tell them to "just do that".
    -Wally hires a lot of green actors who need guidance and never get it. Sometimes they rise to the occasion and sometimes its painful to watch and the productions suffer.
    -Minimal set with no real design or production quality is minimal.
    -There is no understudy or swing even though some contracts are as long as 9 months. There is no flexibility if you have a wedding or death or birth of a child.

    Some facts that are neither a pro nor a con but simply pieces of information.
    You will have a fellow cast member who is your company manager. In some situations it can be fine, in others, depending on the person, it can be difficult. They do occasionally give notes on performances. The company is a Christian based company. There is a company prayer before each show during a cast meeting. You do not have to be a Christian to work there. They do not discriminate based on your color, creed, sexuality, or religion. The shows do typically have a Christian message in them because they are rooted in the Amish community.

    11/26/2017  4:36pm