Disgruntled Cast and Crew Raise Issues Over Award Winning Theatre
By H.G. Welch
Recently Houston mayor Sylvester Turner honored Eado Playhouse for their production of A Few Good Men, and for the free performance of the play for our veterans. If another playhouse earned this honor it would have been lauded for its charity, unfortunately Eado Playhouse's directors have a long past of financial obligations left unmet. Immediately after Mayor Turner presented the acclamation to Colton Berry, Jane Volke and Luke Hamilton dozens of former actors, musicians, and crew united in protest regarding payment long overdue.
Berry, Volke and Hamilton opened up Bayou City Theatrics in 2012, arriving with such aplomb they were awarded the Houston Theatre Award “Best New Theatre” in 2013. In May of 2014 Bayou City Theatrics moved into the downtown Kaleidoscope Theatre and began focusing on Off Broadway productions. The Kaleidoscope stayed open until September 2016 when it closed its doors citing overwhelming debt. The theatre was already in arrears to dozens of cast and crew, as evidenced by multiple signed contracts presented by numerous individuals. Public protests against the Kaleidoscope quelled the most vocal of their critics, until less than a year later the same directors of Bayou City Theatrics and The Kaleidoscope Theatre reopened under a new company called Eado Playhouse. While the names Berry, Volke or Hamilton appear nowhere on their website or any promotional material, a call to the Texas Secretary of State confirmed the directors of Eado are the same people as the previous companies.
I was approached by dozens of individuals regarding the lack of payment for their services. I was provided with contracts, payment schedules and matching stories of broken promises, excuses and even flat out deception regarding payment. Of just the cast and crew that spoke to me the unpaid contracts and invoices I was presented totaled well over $10,000 dollars still owed at the time of Kaleidoscope's closing. I was informed one of the first venues Bayou City Theatrics performed at, The Vue on Waugh, was never paid for the rental of their space. A common excuse given to the creditors was that the next production had used up all available funds, so nothing was available immediately. The cast and crew Dog Meets God sued for $2600, and was promised a payment plan of $12 each a month. When Volke was confronted by several of the people she owed money to, she informed them that Eado Playhouse was a separate entity from Bayou City/Kaleidoscope, so was not liable for any past debts she accrued under previous incarnations, despite having the same directors.
The musicians that worked on Urinetown in 2016 told of the episode where they were promised on average between $700-$800 dollars, and were under contract to be paid before the end of the last performance. Volke made a point of putting four envelopes on the conductor's stand in sight of the musicians, showing them that their checks were there. After the performance was done the musicians were given the envelopes as they were leaving, but when opened the amount was for less than half what they were contracted for. Attempts to collect the remaining funds went unanswered.
The lack of payment was not restricted to just a few productions. I talked to people from The Great Gatsby, Urinetown, Guys and Dolls, South Pacific, The Rocky Horror Show, Dog Meets God, Wild Party and others that did not receive payment. Lawsuits have been threatened, and one has been filed for the performers in Dog Meets God. The mayor's office publicly stated that the award was presented without knowledge of the financial difficulties of Bayou City Theatrics or The Kaleidoscope Theatre. People owed money by the directors of Eado stated that they just want to get paid, and also to make the public aware of their experiences with Berry, Volke, and Hamilton.
Eado Playhouse Responds to Critics
Luke Hamilton also
released a separate statement regarding the allegations by former cast and