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Gig&Tell: Thunder Bay Theatre

  • Great Place to Grow    
    09/17/2017  12:54pm

    Though this is a small theatre, it is an amazing place! I have worked there multiple times and have loved it.

    I will admit that there are things that need to improve, but the current artistic staff and board are working extremely hard to make things better. In the time I worked there, I saw the pay increase for actors and technicians, huge improvements in the living spaces, and an increase in the company's attention to detail.

    In addition to that, I have never worked with a more supportive and loving group of people. They really cared about me as a person and pushed me to be a better actor as well. I would come back here a million more times.

    Alpena, MI is also beautiful. It's a tiny town, but is wonderful in the summer and fall (there is less to do in the winter for sure), and the theatre is basically on Lake Huron which is awesome! Also, the people in Alpena are great. They really appreciate the work that the theatre does and show their support by giving us baked goods and doing other sweet things for us.

    This theatre has changed a lot over the years, so please don't let its old reputation be the reason that you don't work for them. If you're a good person who wants to work hard and have fun at the same time, this is the place for you!

    This is FALSE. I want to shake any actor by the shoulders who even thinks about taking this job and yell "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING!?!"

    10/06/2017  12:51am

    No. Nope. That's a lie. Theatre is a mess.

    10/29/2017  9:42pm

    IDK why those other comments are so harsh. I liked my time there and I value a theatre that treats me like a person instead of a number or machine. I guess I'm not as stuck up and cut throat as a lot of people in theatre...

    01/09/2018  12:02am
  • GTFO and stay away 05/29/2016  12:39am

    Don't do it. The theatre is shit, the housing has holes and you'll be infested with mice.

    Do yourself a favor and pass any offer you get

    I'm not sure what happened to you, but I hope this comment doesn't deter people from this company. They're young, they're growing, and they care a lot about their employees. The pay is below average, but the organization is making huge strides to fix that and do their best to follow through on what they promise. I think its a great place for young professionals to learn some do's and don'ts of professional theatre. I recommend that anyone who receives an offer should strongly consider working at Thunder Bay Theatre

    03/04/2017  12:17pm


    Guys, seriously, don't do it. Wait it out in NY for something better. Value yourselves- they won't.

    03/09/2017  12:54am
  • Good News!    
    07/01/2015  9:48pm

    This theatre holds a special place in my heart and I hope I will be able to come back soon for another season.

    While I agree with what a previous post said, the pay is not that great, but it's a great place get your feet wet, and grow as a professional. The current production team is doing wonderful things for a small theater in a community that doesn't have a lot of theatrical opportunities.

    I hope they they stay on the path they are currently on, because I see a bright future for them.


    08/20/2015  8:33pm
  • Ehhhh 06/28/2015  6:23pm

    It's pretty much community theater. With a very tiny paycheck. Actors - You are worth more than this. Childish production team who talk as much shit and are as cliquey as the actors in the shows. Avoid.

    I have to disagree. My experience with Thunder Bay Theatre had been nothing but positive. The production team and actors are quite professional and are good at separating personal life from work life. If any problems arise, they are taken care of face-to-face and handled very well. I'm sorry your experience isn't going well. Hope it gets better for you!

    07/01/2015  9:15pm
  • Positive Experience    
    02/01/2015  2:13am

    I worked at TBT during the last summer season and was sad to leave. Like others have said, it certainly has positives and negatives, but it's a great place to start a career.

    The Artistic Director there is really doing wonders for the theater. Although he is very young, he is growing the theater and really giving it a good name, which it has not had in the past. He is a great guy to work with. He genuinely cares for all of his actors, and he goes through a very long process to make sure that he's bringing the right people to the theater, not just the most talented. He also knows how to talk to you, and how to get a positive response. I felt like he was (successfully) trying to help all of us become professionals. He has an open door 24/7 and will always make time for you. Doing so much as an Artistic Director is very hard work, and he also does a lot of work that interns, assistants, etc. should be doing, but they don't have the budget to hire. He also directs every show so sometimes there just isn't time or energy to put a really great product on stage. He's not the greatest director I've worked with, but he's still figuring things out and doing far better than most. Plus he has great passion for what he's doing. As he becomes more experienced and gains proper staffing the team there will really be able to do great things.

    The theater is nice enough. It's very old, but charming. Probably 150 seats and a stage with room for most anything. Dressing rooms backstage aren't top notch but they work nicely and aren't a problem. The housing is actually really, really good. You'll be terrified of lighting the place on fire, but other than that it is very good. Full kitchen, apartments, TV, laundry, everything you need.

    Because the casting process is heavily influenced by personality and the goal to create a strong ensemble it is rare to find a bad apple at TBT. I'm still in contact with pretty much everyone I worked with and I liked them all. The talent level isn't necessarily top notch but everyone has huge potential.

    Alpena is just a wonderful place to be during the summer. Although the hours are long and difficult, there is plenty of time to enjoy the town. It never gets warmer than 75 degrees and can require a sweater at night. Being able to enjoy the town and everything the community has to offer (a lot of fun stuff) with the core company is really special.

    Rehearsals are generally well run. The stage management team is well-organized and top notch. I was very impressed. My time was never wasted. The Choreographer did really great work and was able to utilize his dancers to their full extent and squeeze every bit of talent from the non-dancers too. Music rehearsals were generally frustrating and more problematic than beneficial. Unless the MD changes, expect to teach the music to yourselves.

    Unfortunately, the pay was only $100/week. But if they continue to have successful seasons maybe that will change. Try to negotiate up a touch if you can, but don't be outrageous. We all received bonuses at the end because the season was so successful. Pay was never late.

    I had a great summer at TBT. I walked away with solid credits and experience, I really enjoyed myself all summer, I'm still friends with most everyone, and I would definitely say if you're starting your career go here. This theater wants to help you become a better actor and a better person. I really felt and still feel cared for by everyone.

    Being a part of growing this theater is thrilling. There's a great spirit at TBT, and a community that is generally thankful for its presence. This is the only theater a lot of people in Alpena will ever see. This is their Broadway. It's a special place to be right now.

  • Pros & Cons 01/31/2015  5:59pm

    Like any theater, there are pros and cons when it comes to working at Thunder Bay Theatre. I will break some of them down for you.


    --LOCATION...You are in a beautiful little resort town in northern Michigan. Alpena really is a nice place. No, it's not a big crazy city but I for one like to get away from that in the summer. There are beaches close by, a cute coffee shop down the street you will go to ALL the time, some restaurants, shops, etc. You are in an area where a car is not a necessity, but if you actually want to venture out a car is DEFINITELY nice. Even for grocery shopping it is a major plus haha. The weather is great for the most part.

    --THE PEOPLE...The majority of the people who see the shows come back again and again and are literally in awe at the caliber of talent when it comes to the core company. They are so sweet and generous, as well...Making dinners for the cast, inviting them to parties, etc. They are very grateful and welcoming.

    --THE PRODUCTION TEAM...For the most part, the production team is great. They are funny, respectful, mostly professional, and caring. There are definitely some egos but that is the case anywhere, on and off stage. Overall, you are treated like an actual person, not just a performer, which sadly can be rare in this industry. They have a very open door policy and you can go to them with any issues. (Not always resolved...but at least they listen and care, right?)

    --RESUME BUILDER...This is a great job for a college student or someone just starting out looking to gain experience and credits. You will most likely have two roles that will be good additions to your resume, which of course is always great to build. I can only speak for the summer season, but in addition to the two mainstage musicals, you also do late night cabaret performances, publicity performances, and themed fundraiser performances. So you have tons of opportunities for footage for your reel, as well. However, make sure you have a fellow cast member or friend take a video otherwise 1. You will probably never actually get a copy or 2. It will not be the best quality.

    --FRIENDSHIPS...Okay, yeah, cliche...But you will make some lifelong friends here. Truly.

    --HOUSING...You live in apartments right above the theater which is very convenient. You live with one or two other people, not 6 like a lot of stock. Yeah, everything is really old and if you had the tiniest little spark the entire place would probably go up in flames, BUT it really isn't bad. I think they are finally doing some deep cleaning, too, so it should be better from now on in terms of the cleanliness factor. Never any bug problems or anything though. Free washer & dryer right in the hallway. All kitchen appliances included as well as utensils, etc. (Which I think they replaced too...they really needed some new pots and pans, for sure!)


    --SHOW QUALITY...Okay, it isn't the best. You really never know what you're going to get. In addition to the professional core company, you also share the stage with local volunteer ensemble members, many of whom are high school students. Sure, some of them are great. A lot have no experience, expression, and are tone deaf. The people of Alpena will be blown away no matter what, but you probably wouldn't want to invite all your friends and family to these shows...and definitely not industry. The theater/stage is small but they do a pretty good job of making it look good with nice sets. But certain numbers in the show will be down right embarrassing. Others, wonderful. You never know.

    --MUSIC...So, you might end up using canned music when the prod team realizes that the pit sucks and you'd be better off with tracks. Both have their pros and cons. But really...brace yourself for music rehearsals. You will most likely want to rip your hair out and/or throw yourself off a cliff. Just learn your shit on your own and do your best is the best advice I can give you.

    --DRAMA...It's everywhere, right? But there seems to be a lot of it at TBT. Mostly having to do with this very obvious feud between the locals and the new team/people and the board. Just don't get involved and be nice to everyone and you're set. Focus on your work. Be a professional. Even when others are not.

    --PAY. Yeah. For most people, not good. You can negotiate a little to bring up your weekly pay and get travel provided or partially covered. But...if you are scrambling for money and need a job where you will actually save up, this is not the place for you. You work your ass off for VERY long hours (a lot more than a lot of stock) for way less pay than many non-eq theaters. But like I said...negotiate.

    --WORK CALLS...As a core company member you are required to take part in work calls, which are most days, especially towards the beginning, for a few hours every day. So in between hours of rehearsals and performances you are also building the set, painting, cleaning, etc. Sometimes it can be fun and a good learning experience, other times it is shitty and you're exhausted and the best thing you could be doing is resting your voice and/or rehearsing instead of breathing in paint and dust in the oh-so-lovely shop. For the most part they do a good job of only keeping the actors for what they really need, and they will let you go early if they have nothing else for you to do. If you like this kind of stuff, then great!

    I could go on forever about my experience at TBT. But overall, I had a fun and busy summer and I certainly do not regret working there. I would go back for a good role, I think. I met some wonderful people and mostly had a great time doing what I love. So there you have it!

    Ditto to literally everything in that above post.

    Although I think they could have fed us more. Even Wal-Mart got too expensive for the amount they were paying us weekly.

    02/01/2015  12:16am