THE WAY OFF BROADWAY DINNER THEATRE
Box Office: (301) 662-6600 WOB@wayoffbroadway.com
Copyright 2011. The Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre. All Rights Reserved.
I've never been to a dinner theatre before. What should I expect?
First and foremost, you should expect to have a good time. Basically, it's like going out for the evening to dinner and a show, except it is all in one convenient location. At WOB, you get a great dinner followed by a full Broadway style show right after dessert. In addition, your servers are the actors that you see up on stage.
After you arrive at the theatre and check in at the Box Office, you are taken to your table. Your server takes care of your drink orders and explains how the buffet works, what's available, when you can go to what lines, etc. Just after dessert, your server takes drink orders for the first act, as well as drink orders for intermission and delivers a check to you. Then the server RUNS backstage to get ready for the show. You watch the first act. At intermission, your server settles your bill, delivers your intermission drinks, and makes sure you're ready for the second act. They then run backstage, the lights go down, and the second act begins. The show ends (usually around 10:30) and you file out with a full belly and a smile on your face.
Now, there are a couple of differences from a normal restaurant situation. The biggest thing is the time table. At 7:30 (1:30 for matinees), your waiter will need to finish up on the floor and head backstage. We're not trying to rush you or be pushy. It's just that we want to start the show on time.
Where the devil are you?
We're right here.
How do gratuities work at a dinner theatre?
This is one of those thorny topics that some people feel strongly about. But we thought we'd go ahead and let you know what's customary. You can take it from there. Like any restaurant, a gratuity is a normal part of your service. Obviously, what you leave for your server is entirely up to you. And tipping your server at a dinner theatre works pretty much like anyplace else, but there are a few differences. First, your server is a member of the cast or crew of the production you are seeing and is working primarily for gratuities extended by you. Unlike a normal restaurant, waiters at WOB do not receive an hourly wage. Nor do they have a constant flow of customers coming and going all night long. They have one group of people they wait on each night. They provide wait service for you, and then they entertain you. It's customary to tip 15% of your ticket price and bar tab at a dinner theatre, but many of our patrons tip a lot more than that (bless their gracious hearts).
What should I wear?
We certainly ask that you do wear SOMETHING! Actually, BUSINESS CASUAL is the usual dress of the day. We do ask that you respect the theatre. Jeans, T-shirts, and/or shorts ARE NOT permitted at Mainstage performances.
What time does the show start and when should I arrive?
That depends on the day and whether you're seeing one of our Mainstage performances or one of our Children's Theatre shows. Here's a list of important times: Mainstage Performances | Children's Theatre Performances
How can I purchase tickets?
To purchase tickets for any of our performances or special events, you can stop by the theatre during regular Box Office hours or call (301) 662-6600. It may sound old fashioned, but every now and again, it is nice to talk with a real live human being.
Do I have to purchase tickets in advance?
It is always a good idea to get tickets before showing up at the theatre. Many of our shows sell out and we would hate to have you travel to the theatre only to be turned away because we didn't have any seats available. This is especially true for our Children's Theatre performances.
How far in advance should I get my tickets?
This is easy: As soon as you know the date you want to come see the show. The worst thing you can do is wait until the last minute only to find out a show you really wanted to see is sold out for the rest of the run. So don't wait. You can make a reservation for any date in any season that's been announced. That means you can call up in January and make a reservation for next December. And people do exactly that all the time. People start booking our holiday shows the minute they're announced. There are some restrictions on cancellations and such. Those are answered a little farther down the page.
Hey! How did I end up in the back row?!?
There are two ways to influence being closer to the stage. The easiest way is to become a Season Subscriber. Our subscribers always get preferred seating. (There's more info. in the Subscriber FAQs below.) The other way is to get your tickets early. After subscribers’ tables are set, the other tables are assigned in the order the reservations were made and tickets were purchased. The earlier you reserve, the closer to the stage you are.
We made a reservation, but my mother-in-law dropped in for the weekend. Can we cancel?
Like almost every theatre, there are no cancellations, refunds, or exchanges once you have purchased your tickets. We've tried lots of different ways around this, but they all end up causing too many problems. Please check out the rest of our reservation policies by clicking here.
Can I assume that all shows are appropriate for the entire family?
WOB produces a wide variety of productions each year. Some of these shows are perfect for the whole family to enjoy, while others may be a little more adult in nature. If that is the case, the Box Office will always try to give you a little heads-up if your reservation includes children. In general though, we do find that young children sometimes have trouble sitting through a Mainstage performance.
So how young is too young?
This is another one of those dicey questions that can lead to hurt feelings if not handled properly. And the answer is different for our Mainstage and Children's Theatre productions. For both types of shows, we discourage our patrons from bringing children that are too young to sit in a seat by themselves. We don't have high chairs, but we do have a few booster seats. And the Fire Marshall does not allow us to park strollers in the aisles. Let's face it. The point of going to theatre is to be entertained by the people on the stage. If your youngster is too young to understand what's going on, then there's always the risk that junior will get fussy and you'll end up walking him/her back and forth in the lobby. For the Children's Theatre, this isn't quite as big a deal. The show's only an hour long and we strive to do shows that encourage a certain amount of audience participation. In other words, people expect a certain amount of noise from the audience at the children's shows.
The Mainstage is a slightly different story. If you don't think your child can sit through an hour and a half of dinner followed by a show that runs an additional two to two and a half hours, then you probably want to hire a baby sitter for the evening. Some kids handle this type of setting better than others. Of course, we've run across a couple of adults over the age of 30 who can't do that. So maybe age isn't the delineating factor here . . .
The bottom line is this: For the Mainstage, children five and younger are not permitted in the theatre. If your child is older than five, we trust our patrons will do what they think is best for their families as well as for the people around them. After all, you know your children better than we do.
What is a Subscriber?
A subscriber is someone who has decided to show their support for our theatre by buying one ticket for each show up front. Subscribers are really the heart of any dinner theatre. It means we have a steady base of supporters that we know will be coming to our shows. It means there is a group of people out there who like what we're doing and know they're going to have a good time when they come to see us.
What's in it for me?
Here's what being a subscriber means for you. First (and probably foremost), buying your tickets up front gives you a pretty significant price break on a Mainstage ticket. So if you know you're going to visit us more than once in a season, why not buy tickets in advance and save some money?
A price break isn't all you get. Subscribers also get preferred seating. Under normal conditions, we assign seating according to the date of the reservation. We start in the front row and work back. The exception to this is that subscribers are assigned ahead of the pack. That means, unless a subscriber tells us differently, they'll be assigned a table towards the front.
Subscribers also have the ability to reschedule their reservation if something unexpected comes up. As a subscriber, you have until 2 days prior to your scheduled performance to move your tickets.
Where can I find out more?
I just looked at your Subscription page and it told me I was too late.
Well, then you are. Since a subscription gives you one ticket for use with each show, we have to sell the subscriptions prior to the beginning of the season. That means that subscriptions for the next season generally go on sale during the run of the fourth show of the current season, if not a little bit earlier. If you're on our E-Bulletin list, which you can sign up for at the bottom of this page, you'll be one of the very first to hear about each new season. If you're not on our E-Bulletin list, you'll have to make a note on your calendar to give us a call sometime during December.
How do I find out about auditions?
Try looking here. This website is the first place audition information will be posted. We also list them in the area’s newspapers and various casting websites. But this is where you'll see it first. It'll also be the place that gives you the most information on what's expected. We always post information about auditions in plenty of time for you to prepare; usually several weeks in front of the actual audition date. Just check back every couple of weeks to see if there's anything new.
If I send you an E-mail and ask real nice, will you send me an E-mail whenever you're having auditions?
We do have an Audition E-Bulletin list to notify performers of upcoming auditions. All you need to do is send an E-mail to WOB@wayoffbroadway.com with your name and E-mail address, and we would be happy to add you to the list so you can always be one of the first to know about auditions.
What can I expect during an audition?
Obviously, the answer to that question will depend on the show and the role you're auditioning for. But, in general, our audition process is pretty basic. Just show up at auditions with a head shot, a resume, and a calendar that reminds you of all the things you have planned during the rehearsal period and the performance dates. The calendar is especially important because we'll want to know when a potential cast member is unavailable for rehearsals and performances. You will be asked to write those dates on a form that everyone fills out. When all the paperwork is done, people will be brought in one at a time to sing for the director, musical director, and the rest of the production team. (Unless, of course, the show you're auditioning for isn't a musical. In which case, you won't need to sing.) That means you should prepare a song and bring sheet music with you. We'll provide the accompanist. After a certain number of people have sung (if singing is necessary), groups of people will be brought in to read selections from the script. If it's a musical with dancing, and you're auditioning for a dancing role, you'll be put through some choreography auditions. If there's ever anything more required of you at an audition, it'll be noted in the audition notices. A few days after auditions, maybe a week later (usually not longer than that), if you're cast you'll get a phone call offering you a role. If you're not cast, you will not hear from us. For those of you new to this process, that last part might seem a little cold. But it’s pretty standard, so you might want to get used to it. It's strictly a business decision.
Does WOB pre-cast?
Yes. In fact, some shows are entirely pre-cast. But it’s safe to say that most of the time, all roles are open. If we hold auditions for a show in which one or more parts are pre-cast, we'll say so in the audition notice.
Do you cast people you've never worked with before? Or do I have to audition a million times before you'll even think about hiring me?
Actually, WOB is very proud of the fact that we cast new faces all the time. So come on down! If you're the best person for the role, then you'll be cast regardless of whether we've seen you before or not.
How many performances a week are there?
Primarily, WOB holds performances on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Sometimes, we'll have a large group book a special performance on a weekday night or afternoon. If we know about those dates prior to auditions, they'll be listed as performance dates on a sheet that will be handed to you when you audition. If you have a conflict with any of the shows on that sheet, you'll be expected to note them on the audition form. Otherwise, if you're cast, we're expecting you to be available. Shows will not be added after a show is cast unless it’s cleared with the cast first.
Your shows run for two or three months! What if I have vacation plans or something? Should I not bother with auditions?
No, no, no. Having to miss performances or rehearsals does not eliminate you from consideration for a role; we do cast swings, understudies, and standbys if we know we're casting someone who has to miss performances.
Are performers paid at WOB?
There are two ways you earn money at WOB: Through your performances and by working the various staff positions required to handle the "Dinner" part of the "Dinner Theatre." At WOB, you're paid a small stipend for each performance. The rest of your money comes from waiting, bussing, and/or bartending. Waiters' compensation consists entirely of gratuities. Bussers and bartenders receive a small stipend in their paychecks plus a percentage of whatever their waiters make. There are lots of rules and regs surrounding these various practices; all of them will be explained prior to the opening of the show by WOB’s Bar Manager. You will be expected to go through at least one training run on all positions you wish to perform. Of course, there's nothing that says you have to work on staff. If you just want to perform on stage, that's perfectly OK.
What's it like working at WOB?
Mostly, it’s like working anyplace else. We work hard and we play hard. As a former cast member once said, “We take our fun seriously.” Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between the work and the play. We try to foster a family spirit both in the dining area and on stage. There are some regulars who spend so much time around each other that we've all become a second family to each other. But we always keep new faces around to keep things from getting moldy. People who come to work with a positive attitude, a good work ethic, and knowing their ‘stuff’ will be welcomed with open arms. Those who constantly slack off, whine, complain, and generally don't play well with others . . . well . . . no need to go into that. We don't get many of that type anyway. But it’s fun. It really is.