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Gig&Tell: Tweetsie Railroad

  • UPTA people beware.    
    09/21/2018  12:20am

    ***Disclaimer - it’s been a few years since I’ve worked here, things may have changed***

    Production quality: So this is a very Ma & Pa theme park. It’s low key. No big roller coasters. No big stages. It’s not Cedar Point. It’s not Dollywood. Cowboy shows take place on and off of a train that circles a mountain. The cowboys who know what they’re doing usually have some good ad libs and can improvize with you, however, some couldn’t tell you what “yes, and” means. The really cool thing is the gun fights which happen twice per show. Totally badass. Costumes are very authentic, which looks cool but can get really hot in the North Carolina summer.

    Cast & crew: I liked almost all the people I worked with. Some were just weird, or not funny, or not good at their job. One of the cowboys thought it would be funny to intimidate me on the first day of rehearsal/gun safety training. Which I think is really rude, and not professional at all. He was a bully. Later, I found out I was one of three (four?) actual professional, trained actors. Almost everyone else was a local college guy who needed a summer job. Some of them told me about their in-house auditions and how they read monologues from Blade Runner or The Matrix off of a paper. They were shocked when I told them I auditioned at an actual professional theatre conference and had to memorize my monologue and song. Once I had that info, I knew I was in the wrong place.

    ----Important side note: Knowing that I had gone through UPTA and gotten my degree and had professional credits to my name...then hearing that most everyone else who was hired for the same job were non-performers, and just needed summer job - that did something to my self worth as an actor. I had no idea what I was getting into. Again, this isn’t Dollywood where the performers are trained performers. These guys were community theatre level, just introduced to acting, never ever performed for an audience before, never done stage combat before, never set up a laugh line, never committed to the bit, never thought about vocal projection, brand new, I need a summer job-type guys. (Other side note: that wasn’t everyone, but that was a majority of them)

    Creative team: One guy, Joe, writes the shows. Not much can be said about them. In his words, “It ain’t Shakespeare, but it’s close”. Hint: It’s not close.

    Scheduling: Most days start at 8AM with fight call where you’d run your track’s fight, then be at your station in the park by 9. Last train runs at 5:00. Some days you only get about 60 minutes of break time total. Some days you’re busier watching a movie than performing. Just depends on your track for the day.

    Pay: Sucks. They paid me per 8/hour day, but took one full day’s pay as rent for the cast housing. I made squat working here and I was sweating my ass off and putting up with bad scene partners.

    Accommodations: Bad. The housing I know is different now, but the house they had me in was very old and outdated and had some bug infestations. No wifi, no cable. Some kitchen stuff provided and a twin bed. That was it. Bathroom was dirty.

    Area: The saving grace of this contract is the area. Boone is beautiful. I’d return to Boone any day for its breweries, restaurants, outdoor activities, and scenery. I loved the place.

    TL;DR:
    OVERALL: Bad housing, bad pay, shows can be fun if you’re with good people that day. However, most performers there aren’t professional actors or improvizers. Most are college students who were looking for a summer job. If you want professional performing theme parks I would look to places you’ve heard of before.