Las Vegas may be the Entertainment Capital of the World, but on a far off island in the South Pacific, rhinestones & sequins shine as bright as the sun each day. For entertainers — from singers and dancers to magicians and variety acts — the stage is our world. And if that world is defined by a tropical island with crystal clear blue waters and year-round sunshine, then tell me where to audition. I’ll be first in line.
Chuck McCarroll is director of entertainment for Baldyga Group – the company behind SandCastle Guam, the long-running theater with Vegas-style production shows on that idyllic island I’m talking about.
McCarroll began working as a sound designer with a production company in Los Angeles. While working with that company, he had toured a few shows through Maui. He was offered a position which he could not refuse. After a few years in Maui, in 1998 to be exact, the artistic director whom he worked with in L.A. recruited McCarroll to join him at the SandCastle in Guam. What intrigued him most was the challenges of working in yet another remote location. The rest is history! He’s been there ever since.
“Guam is a great little community and it is very rewarding to present the caliber of shows we are able to present on this small island.” – Chuck McCarroll
Vegas Report: What types of shows have you had over the years at the SandCastle Dinner Theater? Have specific types of shows worked better than others?
McCarroll: We have primarily presented production shows with a heavy influence on magic. These shows seem to work very well with our multi-cultural, multi-lingual audiences. We tend to stay with more visual presentations and avoid excess dialog in our productions. Due to the diversity of our audience, we find more visual presentations provide a consistent experience for the audience no matter where they are from or what language they speak. We did a run with Steve Wheelers “Magic on Ice” and due to the very visual nature of that show, it also worked very well with our audience.
Vegas Report: Who is your audience? Are they repeat customers? First timers? U.S. guests or from other countries?
McCarroll: Our audience is predominantly Asian. We entertain guests from Korea, Japan, China and all over Asia. We do get some local and American guests as well. We have seen in recent years, a growing number of repeat guests to all our shows and attractions. Depending on the season, we are seeing rates of about 30% to 40% of repeat customers. It always nice to see repeat customers come back to see our shows. We truly appreciate the recommendations of our repeat customers to new customers. In the new age of social media this has a huge impact on exposure and sales.
Vegas Report: Are there any specific challenges for producing a show in such a remote location?
McCarroll: There are many challenges to producing the caliber of shows that we produce here in Guam. Logistics is always a challenge, with many of our suppliers and production resources coming from the mainland US, we need to ship in everything! We even ship in the talent. It is sometimes difficult to recruit talent when in reality, not many people know much about Guam. But I can say that once people get out here, they really enjoy their time here on a beautiful tropical island. Most of our performers will extend contracts to be able to spend a little more time on Guam.
Vegas Report: Describe the perfect type of person you are looking to hire? What do the contracts look like? Length? Showtimes? Living conditions? Etc.
McCarroll: We are always looking for the adventurous type of person to bring to Guam. It is really important to us that the performers truly enjoy their time here, not only in the show but in living the lifestyle on a tropical island as well. I find this to be an excellent recruiting tool for us. We look for super passionate, disciplined performers for our shows. Because we are on a tropical island, I like to keep our rehearsal time to a minimum whenever we can. I like the fact that our cast can go out and enjoy their free time here, then come in and enjoy performing an outstanding show every night.
Our contracts are typically 9 months and that never seems to be enough, many performers re-sign. Our show runs twice nightly, five nights per week. The length of the shows is typically 60 to 70 minutes. We provide roundtrip airfare for all of our performers and we provide housing. We have a number of newly renovated 2 bedroom condos within walking distance to the theatre that we use for the cast. There are typically two cast members to a unit and everyone has their own bedroom.
Vegas Report: What is the average/usual breakdown of performers from the US compared to elsewhere?
McCarroll: With the exception of our acrobat troupe, who are from Hubei China, all our performers in the SandCastle show are from the U.S.
Vegas Report: Where is the resort/show marketed? Eastern Asian countries? The United States?
McCarroll: Due to the proximity and tourism trends on Guam, we do most of our marketing in Asia, predominantly in Japan and Korea. However, we are building towards a much stronger internet presence in the U.S. and all around the world.
Vegas Report: Does Mark Baldyga create/conceive all of the shows? If not, who else comes up with concepts for each new show you launch?
McCarroll: Mark Baldyga is and has been the Executive Producer for all the shows that Baldyga Group and SandCastle have produced. Mr. Baldyga has always been very engaged in the creative process for all our productions. More recently, Mr. Baldyga has become much more involved in the artistic direction of the shows. Mr. Baldyga is the director of our current show ‘Zubrick” at the SandCastle and “Tao Tao Tasi”, our island show which we produced in our large outdoor pavilion at the Beach.
The first two productions at the SandCastle, “American Glitz” and “Fantasique” were directed and choreographed by the legendary Jerry Jackson. Our production “Dream” was directed and choreographed by another Vegas legend, Christopher Childers. Christopher also choreographed our current production, “Zubrick”. Christopher has also directed and choreographed many of our Saipan productions as well.
Vegas Report: Tell us a bit about the recent renovations to the theater, lighting, sound, etc.
McCarroll: First of all, let me explain that the SandCastle is a freestanding entertainment complex with a 500 seat theatre, 45′ proscenium and fully equipped. Also, in the same building, we have a three-story nightclub, the Globe that is open every night. The SandCastle complex is a very nice facility and some may not expect to see this one of its kind facility on Guam. Over the last couple of years, we have been upgrading our production equipment. We have upgraded our lighting controls, the most Current Hog software, and refit a very old CD80 dimmer rack with all new digital control systems. In this past year, we have rebuilt our audio system as well from top to bottom, putting all signal and control in the digital realm. Many of the elements of our show, the venue, and the production, you may not expect to see here on Guam. We like to keep it a nice little secret on our beautiful island so we can really impress the guests who experience our shows!
Vegas Report: In closing, give us a one-line pitch to potential performers looking to work for your shows in Guam?
McCarroll: Come be a part of the best show in the Pacific and enjoy the beautiful tropical island of Guam!
SandCastle Guam is now casting male and female dancers.