Gig&Tell: Venice Theatre

  • Great Place to Work    
    08/21/2015  10:35am

    LOVE THIS THEATER. They take really good care of their people in general. They truly treat you like family. I would recommend them to anyone

    This is a community theatre, one of many on the SW Florida coast. Whereas they do have some paid professionals on their staff, the actors/crew/shop staff are volunteers and unpaid. Why is this theatre listed here?

    08/27/2015  3:04pm

    They have started to pay some of their actors. In fact, many of their actors are now being paid. Yes, it's technically still a community theatre and will remain one but they have Ben Vereen directing Hair and some of those people in the cast are paid. They also have a paid acting internship that provides housing. It's not a bad place whatsoever. Just know that when you're entering, it still presents itself as a community theatre.

    08/29/2015  1:14am

    An acting internship at a community theater? Lets leave that to theaters operating under a LORT, or other professional regional theaters. There is a huge difference between community theater and professional theaters. Venice may be one of the finest community theaters in the nation. But it is not a place to get a solid foundation in acting or technical theater.

    09/02/2015  7:50pm

    Someone must have paid someone to leave this comment. Did a show last year here and it was terrible. I was brought in under false terms that this would be a professional experience, and have never felt like my time, safety, and talent were taken advantage of more than at Venice Theatre. Yes, Ben Vereen is directing Hair there, but 1.) He's old and crazy 2.) It's still a community theatre and the production will reflect that regardless of who's directing. I would be happy to answer any additional questions about this place to anyone who has them. It is not worth it for anyone at any point in their career to work at Venice Theatre.

    11/09/2015  5:31pm

    Also this place is far from one of the "Best community theatres in the nation". I would be happy to write a full comprehensive list of productions of Cats played by actual Cats that are still better than anything that has ever happened on the Venice Theatre stage. Funded well? yes. Managed well? HAHA.

    11/09/2015  5:38pm

    agreed. this place sucks

    11/11/2015  12:20pm

    I saw a friend in a show here last year, and couldn't believe how rude they were to me as a patron, and how blatantly disrespectful they were to my friend in the show. Embarrassing for everyone involved.

    11/17/2015  5:50pm

    Venice Theatre -

    I’m gonna try to be as clear as I can when it comes to The Venice Theatre. I really (though very entertaining sometimes lol) hate coming on Audition Update and seeing people trash theatres and give no clear explanation on the problems and or positives of the theatre. So here we go.

    I just finished my contract at this theatre (6 months) I’ll say first that (And this is not meant to come off as an insult) this IS NOT a professional theatre at all. This is community theatre. They handle themselves like a community theatre (So if that is a turn off for you, stop reading this review right now lol) but I won’t say “Don’t take a job here” but just know what you’re getting into. I did have fun I will say that, but being someone who has had a career (regionally and in NYC) there were some very frustrating times for me at this theatre. When I had a problem I spoke up and I will say that they do appreciate when you speak up (sometimes). Their communication is… There is no other way of saying. Their communication is very poor so DEFINITELY speak up when you have a problem (and honestly… You should want to do that in life). I got along with almost everyone I encountered. There were some people there that rubbed me the wrong way (and I’ll openly say that I felt that a lot of the cast members of Hair really needed to get over themselves) but I honestly don’t try to give people power over me and when it comes down to it not everyone you work with is gonna be your friend. I live a very simple life when it comes to performing and that is “Do what’s right to you. Not what’s right for them.”

    Cast housing. It’s pretty cool. About a month left on my contract I left the house just to live elsewhere because it is nice but the rules are just ridiculous and every time you weren’t allowed to do something it went back to ‘because the insurance on the house’ which is just downright asinine. The same person who told you that you can’t have guest because of the insurance was the same person who had someone in his bed or one of his drunk friends passed out on the couch many many times during the several months I lived there (Not a big deal I was offended by people being over but come up with a better excuse than ‘Because the insurance on the house wont allow it’ because THAT MAKES NO SENSE). HUGE double standard here and he has a very southern mentality of ‘it’s my house so if you don’t like the rules leave’. I personally couldn’t take it anymore so I just left (to his credit it didn’t affect our work relationship in any way when I left and I will say that he was at least smart enough to understand why I left the house I feel). The house is nice though but I just feel this was just a living situation where I just wasn’t compatible.

    The pay is ‘eh’. BUT you do have the opportunity to get a side job (which several of the people I worked with did). So there’s that. Be an adult. If you don’t like what they are offering you then don’t take the job but if you want to perform and still don’t like what you’re getting offered then take the gig and get a side job. This business is not easy you guys. It just is what it is. Is it right? No. But is it life? Yes.

    I would strongly suggest NOT staying here for more than a year. The longer you stay the more complacent you become (and it showed with some people there). If they like you they will offer you the world but this is one of those regional theatres that can trap you and you look up one day and see that you have been there for years. If you want to be the best performer, spread your wings and don’t just stay in one place. One contract is long enough. But glass half full. You’re in a beach town (even though it shuts down like at 10 but lol it is a retirement town) and you do get a lot of time for yourself and at the end of the day they are a big attraction in the town of Venice and sell lots of tickets. You are NOT performing for empty houses EVER so that feels great I can’t lie lol. But to the people who are there who try to say New York isn’t the place to be I will always strongly disagree with that. No disrespect to Venice but never (there were a couple people there who did) compare yourself to the quality (financially and talent wise) of the broadway stage. That just isn’t fair to what Venice Theatre artist and techs trying to accomplish. “History remembers kings but the soldiers win the battles”. Think about what I mean with that saying.

    DO NOT get involved with anyone who works at this theatre romantically. Privacy doesn’t exist at this theatre and EVERYONE knows your business and some (most) will not care while others (I could count them on my hand and name them on here but I won’t go there lol) will try to create problems with it. At the end of the day you are there to perform or whatever other task they ask of you so just DO YOUR JOB and stay professional to the best of your abilities in the rehearsal process and the stage even when others aren’t returning the favor. (Once again I go back to saying NOT EVERYONE you work with in this business is going to be your friend). The gossip game is at an ALL TIME HIGH at this theatre, PEOPLE LIKE DRAMA at this theatre and no one confronts anything or anyone. It’s all he said, she said (going back to bad communication at this theatre lol) everyone talks behind everyone’s back and it can feel very toxic sometimes in that manner. People always have an opinion at this theatre about the personal lives of people without knowing all the facts. People at this theatre will test your patience. Just always remember that there are permanent people that come in your life and then there are temporary people who come in your life. Don’t let them ruin your time here. Find your own group of friends. Do your own thing and just avoid everyone and everything that seems negative (lol I know. That is WAY easier said than done sometimes but just try it).

    As a performer this "intern" program doesn’t give you classes nor do you grow or learn anything about being an actor with this program. They want your services. They want you to serve them. They want you to be there servants. It was rehearsals and some interns helped in the costume shop and if you didn’t help in the costume shop you are deemed a terrible person who isn’t doing their job. I really wish in the beginning they would of given us a list of things at the theatre we could help out with be in tech, box office, literary, press, costumes anything. Instead of being told “You need to be at the theatre and help out” give direction on exactly what we need to do instead of just being vague that we need to go up to the theatre and help. I personally feel the person in charge of the interns has never been in a position of power and abuses the very little power he has with the interns once in a while. I feel he is someone who sees where he is on the pecking order t Venice Theatre and is frustrated by it so therefore he likes to take it out on the interns sometimes (not all but sometimes).

    During my time here I was fortunate enough to get a couple of call-backs in NYC. I am someone who doesn’t jump for joy for a call-back but am very thankful to atleast be remembered and asked back. One was for a show currently running on Broadway and I went up to NYC on my own dime and was reprimanded for it saying that ‘people were questioning my absence’ (I was gone for 3 days a missed ONE rehearsal) and when I asked ‘who questioned my absence?’ this very person went around the question and just started giving his ‘here at venice’ speeches that I feel he was making up off the top of his head. Because all of a sudden there was a rule there you aren’t allowed to audition or submit to other companies while you are working at Venice… This is community theatre right? So they basically want you to sacrifice the future of your career and your reputation for them. They want you to have a loyalty to them that they wont return to you. They take people working at other theatres VERY personal (which I understand during by no means should you do something elsewhere but planning for life after Venice is what I mean they get mad about that too or atleast one person does). The very same person told me also that “While you’re at Venice Theatre you don’t have a personal life”. My god. To that person (Director of diversity) you take your job at Venice (which is community theatre) WAY TOO SERIOUSLY! CALM DOWN!

    Here’s the thing. This “intern program” by no means do I feel it should go away or be no more. I just feel it needs to be COMPLETELY re-evaluated. Definitely need to fine tune some of their rules (and let the interns know all the rules from DAY ONE instead of just letting us know as e go along and only letting us know if/ when we break one of these never said rules) and exactly what they want to accomplish with this program. If it was just hiring performers in to fill certain voids for shows (ex: needing black people for Ragtime) they are producing then call it like it is but when I look back at it the interns aren’t really given any type of priority with casting (and their casting can be VERY subjective) or anything (not complaining just calling it like it is). There were no acting classes or anything that taught the interns ‘the business’ so this program though I think is really cool in some ways (another employment opportunity for non eq actors ya know) can really be confusing in the matter of what is the point of it? Now to what I said I should also mention this. YOU CAN go up to the theatre and volunteer and help out like a couple of the interns would always do but as would I (or atleast attempted to in the beginning). I gave my cell phone number to a couple of the tech guys and told them if they ever need help to call me and I never got a phone call from them the entire 6 + months I was there (and they were all very nice don’t get me wrong) and I would even go up there a lot in the beginning of my time there and ask and they would always say no or “naw man were good”. So yea like I said they just need to re-evaluate this program. From what I was told through rumblings before I left they are going to add in the contract that you aren’t allowed to submit or audition anywhere else during your time at Venice. That is just ridiculous and giving a false pretense of how the theatre business truly is. Accepting another job while contracted at Venice? NO you should definitely not do that and that is truly understandable but to say you aren’t allowed to find future work post Venice Theatre contract is just downright ridiculous and VERY unrealistic (especially when the person who wants to do this was in a production of JCS at another theatre in the area while contracted at Venice at one time). I was also told that there is a double standard and that the volunteers can get away with more when it comes to the show process and all when it comes to how seriously they take the show. I can honestly say to this day that I don’t know how to process that and am just in amazement that there are theatres that truly feel this way (or maybe it’s just this one because I have performed all over North America and I can truly say that I have never heard anything like this before in my entire career or life). I truly hope Murray will find it in himself to stop delegating and be more hands on with the Intern Program because I do feel it’s slowly but surely getting to a point where power is being abused by people under him.

    Scheduling goes back to their communication. After a while I realized that yes they do encourage you to have a life outside of Venice (jobs etc) but I feel in their mind they expect you to drop absolutely everything for something if they need you. Which is fine because Venice Theatre is why you are out there and it should take priority but when they say they are going to do something and you ask when its gonna happen A LOT of the time they don’t have all the details and just keep you on your toes because they just have a mindset that you are able to drop everything whenever they need you. That (in the theatre world or not) is just not realistic for ANYONE. Scheduling and knowing times and stuff is just as important as anything else and that’s one thing I just don’t think they understand. So for me personally what would fix that is if they just paid the interns a little more and say you aren’t allowed to take on another ‘survival’ job… Just my opinion.
    I hope that makes sense.

    But with that being said this theatre has been around for a VERY long time and their way of business isn’t going to change because of a person coming in with the mind set of “If they keep going this way they won’t last for much longer” because the fact of the matter is they are going to last. Venice Theatre IS NOT going anywhere. Understand that you are just a spoke on their wheel. The wheel WILL keep turning after you leave so I repeat if you can’t compromise? Stay where you are and don’t take a job at Venice!

    The two directors (both very different) that I had a chance to work with in Brad Wages (Who they run ragged and I feel deserves a vacation to the Bahamas paid by Venice Theatre lol!) and Ron Ziegler I thought were both wonderful though. They both had different approaches and they probably rubbed others the wrong way with their approaches but I honestly enjoyed both of them very much so. The actor in me appreciated the two different dynamics of their directing.
    I took advantage of the free rehearsal spaces when I could and just started singing again and teaching myself new songs. Sometimes when you’re in the hustle and bustle of NYC you just don’t have the time you want for that. Would I take another contract here? I really don’t know not because I was mad at my experience lol I just honestly don’t know. Would I tell someone not to take a contract here? Not at all. This theatre is an acquired taste so while some people come in and probably will be miserable there are some people that have come in and loved every moment of it. It really depends on you, your personality, patience and how much you can take. This theatre and their way of going about business is truly once again an acquired taste. It works for them and though some people (myself included) may have their feelings about how they run things you never know you might come here and have the absolute best time of your life. But you also might come in and be completely miserable (it was both for me and the final month I can openly say I was completely checked out). Once again. Depends of your personality. At the end of the day (I say that a lot lol) I did get to perform in 3 very different shows for packed houses every night (Tuesday - Sunday) I met a couple of people who will truly be lifelong friends and I got to skip winter in New York (which is never a bad thing lol). But I would take a lot of the ‘business advice’ they give you (which is VERY little) with a grain of salt because it’s not advice on how to go about your business in theatre its more on how to go about your business at Venice Theatre. Also this company and some of the people in it can be very spiteful. Don’t take that part personal because whatever it is that makes them act the way they do is between them and whatever they believe in. It was never between you and them anyways.

    I truly wish Murray, Allan, Brad and everyone I worked with at Venice Theatre all the best in life. I can truly say that this theatre will always have a… Unique place in my heart.
    I really hope this review helped.

    P.S. My apologies if parts of this review come off bitter or anything (Truly not my intentions in anyway). But sometimes it’s okay to be a little bitter in life but you have to find it in yourself to grow and get over it. I with confidence can say that I am over and healed from Venice Theatre. Any grudge I had or problem I had with people or anything died the day my contract expired. I personally am not trying to attack anyone who works at the theatre nor am I trying to attack anyone who has enjoyed their time at the theatre. I truly am using this (auditionupdate.com) as a platform to express my time at Venice Theatre and the things you may go through (speaking to people who worked there before me they pretty much state the same problems I had). God bless. <3

    05/23/2016  12:52pm

    ^Lol. Definitely doesn't like a 5 star review.

    10/24/2016  4:15pm

    Hey lol yea that must of been a computer error. I contacted audition update to try to fix it but I havent heard a response. By no means did I give this company 5 stars. If I was to give it a star rating I would give it probably a 1.5 out of 5.

    11/21/2016  7:28pm