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Gig&Tell: Weathervane Playhouse

  • Some Weathervane Magic    
    08/21/2018  12:13pm

    I like bullets:

    1) The shows produced at Weathervane Playhouse are some of the best SUMMER STOCK shows produced in the US. They run as a true summer stock meaning that new shows are put up every other week with two weeks of rehearsal. I was told by many patrons in the area that the shows were unlike anything they had seen and were of the same caliber as the equity house in downtown Columbus. The costumes at Weathervane exceed the standard for professional regional theaters as well as the lighting.

    2) With great shows came NO REST. I had heard in years past that the full company had one day off a week. This was not the case. If a company member was in all five shows for eleven weeks, they had no days off until the final show opened and even so, they weren't allowed FULL days off. It was frustrating knowing that the schedule could've been better organized and actors could've been utilized more efficiently.

    3) Closing days of a show were miserable. The cast and crew were worked 15 hours with one 2 hour break-- with rehearsal in the morning, a show in the evening, and strike until 12:30am-1am. We then had rehearsal the next day. This was an insane amount of time considering we had no full day of rest.

    4) The housing situation the past few years has been a jumbled mess. This year, actors and technicians were housed in separate dorms next to each other at Denison University. The actors had A/C and the technicians did not. We all had a room to ourselves and a community bathroom per floor. Sharing a kitchen with 15+ actors was hell though. Fast-forward to THREE weeks before the contract is over: the actors and technicians are forced to move to another dorm altogether across campus, have a roommate, no A/C, and share a kitchen. We eventually were supplied fans and window units. This was a problem on management's part with Denison. It was a specific case, but it was still a problem.

    5) The housing is 15 minutes away from the theatre. Some actors bring cars and others carpool. All rehearsals and performances are at the theatre. BUT, if you want freedom and don't want to be a burden, bring your own vehicle.

    6) Everyone had free access to the university gym. The hours were 7am-6pm or something like that so you had to go early in the morning or not at all unless there was a strange two hour break and someone wanted to drive back to Denison to get a workout in between rehearsals.

    7) The resident music director was lazy. They didn't seem to care much throughout about how we sounded and wouldn't stop us for direction. The trained actors did most of the work. I should also say that only one show had a full band which was upsetting to me, seeing as all of our shows had great scores.

    8) This ties into 7 with the *resident* choreographer who "choreographed" 2 of the 4 musicals. Simply put, the show poster should've said "Choreographed by Cast and ~said choreographer~" if you can even call her that.

    All-in-all, I had a nice time here as I knew, to an extent, what I was getting myself into. I titled this 'Some Weathervane Magic' because we pulled out some fantastic work in the end no matter our working conditions.

    Everything mentioned in the post before me is 100% accurate. I'll share my experience as well:

    Housing: We started out in our own single rooms in a dorm at Denison University (very much a typical dorm room). We had a pretty bad bug problem on the top floor, but it was fairly manageable. I never wanted to cook in the kitchen because it was small, gross, and there was not enough refrigerator space. There was only one washer and dryer set for the entire cast of actors, which was sometimes an issue. THEN, we were kicked out by Denison and forced to move to a different dorm, where we all had at least one roommate, and some had two. This was frustrating, to say the least, but hopefully it is isolated to our summer there. It had never happened before.

    Management: We were always paid on time and in full, and the higher-ups of the theater are very trustworthy in that regard. The artistic director is a character, you will find out (Think Michael Scott but less offensive). Stage management was fantastic. I will say there were moments when the line of professionalism was crossed by those in charge of things, and consequently things felt a bit too casual for my liking at times.

    Creative teams: Each show had a different set of people at the helm, and we got to work with a couple of really great directors who truly know what they're doing. The resident music director, as aforementioned, was fine but could be a lot better- lazy is a good word for it. The resident choreographer... not good. Half of the time, we were given instruction to "stand here and figure out what you want to do". Other times, she gave us minimal, mediocre choreography... and we were a cast of DANCERS. She does not choreograph every show, however. We did have one really great choreographer.

    Music: I really wish someone had told me we would not have live music for every show. One show used prerecorded tracks, two had live music (only one had a full orchestra), and one combined live piano with a couple of tracks. (yeah.)

    Costumes, sets, lighting: Really good. Honestly couldn't complain. Better than most summerstocks I see, even better than a lot of regional theaters. Quite professional and very visually appealing.

    Cast: For most roles older in age as well as younger child roles, actors were hired from nearby in the Columbus area. The majority of the roles were cast from the same pool of college-age/20-somethings for all of the productions. With a few exceptions, everyone was very kind, courteous, and profesional.

    Community: The patrons really and truly appreciate Weathervane Playhouse so much There is a true sense of community between them as us. After every show, we would stand in a receiving line for them to walk out and say things to us if they wished, which of course had mixed reviews from the cast. Some of us hated it, some of us didn't mind it. As for the community within the cast and crew, it really grew throughout the summer in a good way.

    All in all, I'd say I had a great experience at Weathervane. We had a superbly talented group of young professionals and created some amazing theater. If you're considering working here, get ready to create some amazing theater and make some fantastic connections and friends.

    08/21/2018  7:53pm