I taught at SR for 2 years and that was enough for me. I LOVED working with the students and the Artistic Director's wife is AMAZING, but the AD was very disrespectful towards me.
I have many stories that I have retold over the years and have spoken to former students about the abuse that occurred to them during those years. I had heard "teachable moment" so many times when it WASN'T a "teachable moment" that I despise that phrase now.
I comforted students often when they were upset by the AD. As I Music Directed shows, I was given comforting looks FROM the students as I was screamed at in front of the entire cast. I would try to defend students and be belittled for it. When the AD needed to stop to give a note, he would BANG on the lower end of my keyboard and thought it was funny.
My most traumatic moment came when doing a show and adults and kids alike were crying at the end of rehearsals. I tried to put together an orchestra, but no one wanted to play because they weren't paid in the past or refused to work with them again. I got who I could and then was screamed at and belittled when they didn't like my orchestra. During rehearsals, instead of taking notes, the AD would scream at me for a mistake the orchestra made at our FIRST rehearsal together before I could even correct it, and when we would stop, he would appear on stage and loudly yell "WHY ARE WE STOPPING?" I addressed it with him before and he said "I'm yelling at everyone! It's not personal!" When I realized that, it made it a bit easier to swallow because he was right. He was like that with everyone! At the end of this extremely stressful show, I just wanted to leave quickly because it was such a horrible experience. I directed the bows and a reasonable amount of exit music and was ready to be done with this stressful opening. The AD came FLYING off the stage and pulled me away from a conversation I was having with the orchestra. He violently pointed in my face and said "Don't you EVER do that again! The music plays until the last person leaves the house". He was nose to nose with me and I think would have hit me if he could. I was so upset that I left shaking.
For the next few weeks, I tried to be mature and asked repeatedly for a meeting so that we could discuss what happened. He avoided me constantly. When he realized that I wasn't letting this go, he begrudgingly agreed to it. I entered his office and he slammed the door shut and the first words out of his mouth were "This is NOT going to go how you think it is". He told me how he built this business himself and for me to ruin it is disgraceful. On many occasions, he threatened to Blackball me in this entire area. His son tried to enter and he almost gave him a concussion by slamming the door on his head. His wife consoled me afterwards telling me that he has made her cry on stage as well!
At the old studio, things went on like: everyone knew where the "secret key" was kept and it was used and replaced often (using the same key). Even some homeless would use it to sleep upstairs at night. The office door was also not locked, which is where the tickets and money for shows were kept. I remember a student being accused of stealing the money from the drawer with no proof when anyone could have taken it, including their own kids!!!!! I had a contract to Musically Direct (MD) a show and at the AUDITIONS, he announces another person as the MD. I had no idea!
I have seen him enter a rehearsal and storm through screaming a student's name, pulls them into a room, slam the door and scream at them. I have witnessed him screaming at the top of his lungs for a student who wasn't onstage, rampaging backstage to find them and then the kids would laugh uncomfortably about how they think he hit a high C. (they didn't know how to react) One girl wanted to be a teacher and he did everything he could to discourage her because he felt she should be an MT. She cried quite often over this, but eventually became the teacher that she wanted to be.
Parents felt disrespected, favored students knew how to get the roles that they wanted, and students who couldn't afford to pay were used like work dogs. I know about affairs, betrayals and many other stories that I have heard over the years. I would only hope that the AD would realize what an opportunity it is to shape and develop a student's imagination and personality and not take that for granted.
I loved EVERY single student I worked with and every moment that I spent with the AD's very talented wife, but it is a shame that these things are still going on today. I hold all of the student's and staff in my heart and hope that you all know that it is not like this everywhere that you go!