She died doing what she loved: Low quality productions
Like any Theatre Company, you have your ups and you have your downs. The end result was uh-mazing! Les Mis was gorgeous! Amazing talent on the stage!
I loved, loved, loved my cast! Would I work these cast members again? In a heart beat! Would I work with the owners of the theatre again? Most likely not. I do wish them the best of luck though! If they don't find success in the theatre, I hope they find success else where in life!
P.S. - Living conditions were great!
Wow. First time swinging by this page. It's terrible that people are posting such cruel things, however, it is not far from the truth. There are most certainly nicer ways of saying things, but it looks like a lot of these people have experienced similar issues during their time with DS.
I truly think that the team at DS means well, the production value is great, but the process was painful. I'm not talking about the actual work that needed to be done to get the results that we were looking to get. I'm talking about Joel as a person. I will put it this way: He is not easy to work with. At times even Rich couldn't deal with him. At times you feel like the production may not open because of how Joel gets. He is insulting and absolutely inappropriate at times. He made the cast and crew feel terrible about themselves at times and most of the time, he was the issue. I wish him the best, but if he doesn't change, I don't see much of a future for this man. Rich is a doll though! : )
These people are hacks. They keep asking actors to post positive reviews of their theatre, claiming "if you're really my friend, you'll defend us". This isn't the damn spanish inquisition, it's audition update. We're allowed to have negative reviews about your poorly managed theatre. Maybe if you spent some time to fix the problems listed on here you wouldn't be fucked the next time you're looking for actors.
Don't work for these people. They are everything that's wrong with this industry.
I'm disturbed to see so many terrible reviews of Joel Froomkin and Rich Najuch. I believe in freedom of posting about your experiences, but it seems some people have lost perspective here and aren't looking at the whole picture. Though I cannot comment on what happened to them personally, I know what I experienced at Different Stages was worlds apart from their experiences.
I worked with Joel and Rich this summer and was so impacted by my work with Joel that I wrote him an e-mail in December, unprompted. This is what I said:
Been thinking about you a lot lately. I open another show on Thursday -- and I thought you should know that being directed by you was like a master class in acting. In this production, I'm totally on my own as far as making choices and creating an arc -- which is also a good skill to practice -- but my conversations with you about the character and scenes really challenged me to be better every day. As crazy as things were this summer, know that I look back on our time together very fondly. You really believed in me and made me a better performer. So thank you. Not everyone has your passion."
If that doesn't speak volumes, I don't know what does. Were there some missteps in the way things were run and handled? Yes. But Different Stages is new and unlike well-established theaters, is still working out the kinks. We, as actors, have to be patient and supportive of those trying to make theatre blossom in parts of the country other than New York. They are keeping theatre interesting and exciting -- and giving us jobs. I only found Joel and Rich to be interesting, comfortable to talk with and creative. When there was an issue, I didn't post about it anonymously online. I went directly to Joel and we resolved it in person.
It should also be noted that I was hesitant to take the job since they are a new theater. Joel was HIGHLY recommended to me by my good friend who has been in the business for 30 plus years and has eleven Broadway shows under his belt. I will never regret working with Joel and Rich. They made me a better actor. Any mistakes they've made along the way are things they have learned from and will change in the future.
Please be kinder to other theatre professionals, fellow actors. There are ways of reporting your feelings without being catty and hurtful. We are all just doing the best we can.
I will start this off by saying that I personally had no run ins with Joel (therefore, this is not coming from a bitter actor's perspective), but the other posters on this page posting about the "unprofessional" antics of the director, Joel Froomkin, are not far off at all. Joel is an intelligent director with a brilliant vision, but has numerous issues that sadly out weigh his talent. Micro-managing EVERYTHING. Saying rude, crude, and insulting things to the cast/crew (you'll cringe if I told you). He takes on everything himself (lighting design, set design, directing, set construction, and the list goes on), and if there is a slight chance he does allow someone to take the reigns, all hell will break loose. As stated below, it is better that this man stays in Indiana and far away from NYC. If you have any respect for yourself as an artist and human being, I really would think twice about signing a contract with them…if the theatre is still around in the next year.
It's Joel and Rich's way or the highway. Any other opinion is meaningless and will result in your termination. I think deep down they're good people with good intentions, but they don't realize that their shooting themselves in the foot with their piss poor attitudes and unprofessionalism in their dealing with actors on a day to day basis.
Joel Froomkin is a certified nutcase. I wonder why he's in the middle-of-no-where Indiana and not in NYC? Well, it's probably better that way. Keep that man as far away from NYC as possible.
Yes – there are some cons to working here (as there are ANYWHERE you work in life) but there are also a whole lot of pros. The pay is excellent for non-eq work. The checks were always on time. The cast was incredibly talented. Truthfully - isn't that all you can ask for in a job? A place where you get paid to do what you love to do with incredibly talented people?
Yes. At times we were told where we needed to go, when we needed to go there, and what mark you needed to hit. Of course there were. We were blocking a show.
And as a general note, as much as we may want it to...and as much as whatever BFA program we paid thousands of dollars on might have instilled in us, the world does not revolve around us as actors. It just doesn't. There are so many other factors at play in whatever project you're a part of. Isn't it our job as actors to do what we need to do to keep things as fresh as possible night after night?
I understand the point of AU is to speak your mind freely and openly to a forum of like – minded actors who can provide some sort of piece of mind in the craziness that is NYC. But to anyone looking into the prospect of working for this company in the future, I implore you to really take the time to read through some of these negative reviews. Really read them. It will become very clear that they are coming more from a place of immaturity than anything else. In my opinion.
Personally, I'm excited for whatever the future holds for this company.
I loved my time at Different Stages.
Joel, the director, is brilliant. You will be in extremely good hands.
Production quality is absolutely gorgeous. Sets, lights, costumes, sound. Plus the enormously talented cast they assembled.
Housing is great, pay is good.
The work is artful.
No complaints from this actor.
I'd love to work with them again.
I performed at Different Stages Theatre and think it was a wonderful experience with wonderful people. It was a challenging rehearsal process at some points, but I think that can be said for any show at most theatres.
As posted about in other reviews, Joel (the director) took quotes from the book of Les Mis, and had them all over the walls on the first day of rehearsal. I thought this was a creative idea to get us into the world we'd be living in the for the upcoming weeks and also showed the time and effort he was already putting in to making this show a beautiful piece of art.The different dialects (that helped to determine class) were also awesome to learn from someone so well versed in dialects and if anything only added to the different characters that were seen on stage.
The end product of the show was absolutely incredible and did nothing but highlight the amazing abundance of talent that the group had to offer.
As a new company, I think that any theatre would be in for some immense challenges that I feel Joel and Rich ALWAYS handled the best they knew how. As busy as they both were all of the time, they were always willing to stop and listen to the needs and concerns of the actors. You just have to ask, they aren't mind readers.
As for housing, we were all housed in very comfortable spacious apartments/houses that were completely paid for by the company. Anything that we ever needed for the apartment was provided, and Rich would always make sure things were taken care of or fixed as soon as we mentioned something was an issue.
I'd like to say to whoever "wished they were waiting tables" instead of performing at this theatre... Please remember yourself saying that when you can't find a job performing and your only option IS waiting tables. I think you'll be thankful for your time when you got to live part of your dream by performing every night in such a sweet little town, with very talented people. Count your blessings and be thankful for every chance you ever get to perform. There are actors all over the country who would have gladly traded places with you.
Best wishes to the company and all the actors in their new endeavors.
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