What it's like to run your own theater company (and have a second job!)
Meet Gretchen Dawson. She’s the co-founder of a Southern California theater group she runs with her family called 3-D Theatricals (3DT). In addition to being the theater group’s Marketing Director, Gretchen also has a second job as the Associate Choreographer for a neighboring performing arts center — so yeah, she’s definitely busy. Here are three days in her life.
8:00 a.m.: SO TIRED. Yesterday, I worked for, like, 12 hours straight. The great thing about my job is that I work mostly from my smartphone or computer, which allows me to take on other work outside of my organization. Let’s face it, you don’t go into theater to make money, but a girl’s gotta make a living.
8:45 a.m.: Ate a bagel and had my morning coffee.
9:00 a.m.: I’m answering the usual 3DT emails for an opening night show — making sure press photos are picked by our Artistic Director (and my brother) T.J. Dawson, getting the photos ready for print and online use with our photographer (Isaac James), checking with my team to make sure the Step & Repeats (those paper backdrops with company names that people pose in front of on red carpets) and programs got to the theater safely, and locking down menu items with the caterer for the opening night party we are throwing for the cast on Sunday after the matinee.
10:00 a.m.: I just posted on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts reminding our followers of opening night. God, I hope people show up.
11:30 a.m.: Just made a phone call to our caterer and locked down the menu for the party. Everything looks so tasty!
12:00 p.m.: I’m confirming the upgrade for a new Step & Repeat. It will be delivered next Thursday so we can have it for our opening here in Fullerton, California. I’M BUMMED because it exceeded my budget more than I expected, but it is a way easier device (THANK GOD) to set up — which will hopefully extend it’s lifespan. Our previous one only lasted one season.
12:24 p.m.: I sent an email to our entire team attaching an updated version of our company logo and tagline. It’s the slightest adjustment, but I am excited about the update.
1: 00 p.m. I approved ticket donation requests for organizations in our community, and now I am hungry. I gotta get me some food.
1:15 p.m.: Still haven’t eaten. I’m coordinating with my graphic designer every day, but today has been pretty light because most all the materials for The Full Monty — the show that’s opening tonight — have been submitted. She just sent me a draft of the promotional email blast for opening night, and I sent back my notes along with an LA Times interview. The Times interviewed some cast members and the show director!
1:30 p.m.: I get snacks and head to rehearse with Dana Solimando, the choreographer of American Idiot at La Mirada Performing Arts Center, who brought me on as her Associate on the show. We are about to rehearse a number we are kind of nervous about. Originally, on Broadway, this number incorporated flying. This production will not include flying, so we are hoping that our idea works just as well without it.
2:00 p.m.: I arrive and we get STRAIGHT TO WORK.
6:30 p.m.: We stop rehearsing and grab some food before our rehearsal officially begins.
7:30 p.m.: Rehearsal starts.
7:59 p.m.: Thinking of my 3DT family while I’m at the La Mirada, and praying The Full Monty goes well.
11:00 p.m.: Rehearsal ends and I text my brother/3DT Artistic Director, T.J., to see how opening night went.
11:20 p.m.: I leave the La Mirada rehearsal hall after discussing schedules for the next day.
11:45 p.m.: I’m home. Can’t wait to finally be with my girlfriend and go to sleep.
11:47 p.m.: I get a response from my brother saying the audience loved it!
12:30 a.m.: I go to bed — but know it will be hard to fall asleep.
8:00 a.m.: Wake up and get ready for another long day of rehearsal and driving to Redondo Beach for press night of The Full Monty.
8:45 a.m.: AAAHHH I’m quickly downloading the final press shots of The Full Monty so I can post them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram before I leave.
9:15 a.m.: Heading to Starbucks for a venti and bagel. I am starving this morning.
10:00 a.m.: Just got to La Mirada rehearsal hall to meet with Dana before everyone else arrives.
10:50 a.m.: Posting a press photo on Instagram!
11:00 a.m.: American Idiot rehearsals begin.
3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.: Lunch! We went to The Habit. Yum!
6:00 p.m.: I get out of rehearsal and jump in my car to go back to Huntington Beach. Gotta change and get ready for The Full Monty‘s Press Opening in Redondo Beach. My girlfriend, Bitty, is coming with me and she loves this show so much. (I hope she doesn’t sing along the whole time. LOL.)
7:25 p.m.: We arrive at the theater and I greet our guests in the lobby.
8:00 p.m.: The show begins!
9:25 p.m.: Intermission. The crowd seems to be enjoying it. I hope they tell their friends so we can get more people in these seats.
11 p.m.: The show just ended and I’m blown away. I haven’t been able to catch rehearsal for this one because of my commitment to American Idiot, but I must say — my brother killed it again! He truly has a musical theatre gift; for every show he touches, he creates magic. Even if it’s a show you hate or don’t want to see, he’ll always cast the right person for the part and make sure the performance is top quality.
11:50 p.m.: Home. Exhausted.
12:30 a.m.: go to bed go to bed go to bed go to bed
7:50 a.m.: Wake up!
8:35 a.m.: I head to my brother Daniel’s house (the other co-founder of 3DT) and give him an iPad to take with him to the show tonight (it has the playlist I created for the cast party!).
8:45 a.m.: To Starbucks for a coffee and bagel! Lol, this is starting to be a habit.
9:30 a.m.: Arrive at La Mirada rehearsal hall for a short meeting with Dana.
10:00 a.m.: We start rehearsal — beginning with one of my favorite songs from the album, “Holiday.” Why is it my favorite, you ask? Because they had to build a bus OUT OF CHAIRS. It’s cool so far. Hope it translates well to stage!
2:00 p.m.: Lunch time! Panera Bread sounds good.
5:00 p.m.: Rehearsal gets out and I’m heading straight home for a looooooong night of relaxation.
5:30 p.m.: I check on the party. All is well, and a crazy week comes to an end. 🙂
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