• Broadway Beat

Wow! This Ensemble Member’s Stipend Almost Covers the Cost of Parking

by Shannon Cron.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Local actress Grace Barker excitedly reported today that her role as an ensemble member in the Bellevue Theatre’s upcoming production of Bye Bye Birdie will almost cover the cost of parking in the theatre’s lot, sources confirmed.


“I just did the math, and I’m only going to have to pay $38 dollars for parking! For the entire run of the show!” Barker exclaimed while prancing through the theatre’s lobby. “This is a big improvement from my last show here. I mean, I knew I wasn’t going to make bank as an ensemble member, but I also didn’t expect it to send me into debt either. I became so broke that all I could afford to give anyone for Christmas was a copy of my headshot - which I autographed, of course.”


Bye Bye Birdie is her second production at the Bellevue. She shared that during her first production, White Christmas, parking in the theatre’s lot cost her $242 beyond her stipend. When asked why ensemble members still have to pay for parking, Bellevue’s Artistic Director Lucy Freeman insisted that they are paid in “other ways.”


“Performing as an ensemble member provides great exposure, especially for recent college graduates,” Freeman said after making it clear that she would not be answering any more questions about the parking policy. “You can’t really put a price on that.”


Barker agrees and remains confident that the exposure will pay off, as does fellow Bye Bye Birdie ensemble member Roger Yang.


“Really, the Bellevue is a generous employer in many ways,” Yang said while unwrapping his “signing bonus”— a Nature Valley granola bar. “They provide a single chair in the dressing room, which actually doubles as a prop, so no one really gets to use it, but it’s the thought that counts. They also let us work the bar at intermission, and we even get to keep a portion of the tips!”


After a final excitement-filled pirouette by the ticket counter, Barker grabbed her script, character shoes, and her “being the one to lock-up the theatre and set the alarm” punch card (that earns her a spot on the part of the backstage with working glow tape), and headed out the door.


At press time, Barker noted she is “super excited about this opportunity" and "feels like I’m really starting to make it as an artist. Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m meeting some friends to celebrate my raise. The first round is on me!”