RTC: Past, Present and Future
Ask anyone in Brooklyn and Queens about where to find high-quality community theatre and they will tell you the Rockaway Theatre Company. Founded in 1997, Rockaway Theatre Company (RTC) performed a number of plays at the Park Place Seaport Theatre in Rockaway Beach until the venue closed suddenly in September of 1997.
Losing a venue might be a fatal blow to the average young business; however, the resilient Rockaway Theatre Company wasn’t going to go down without a fight! The RTC Board of Directors approached the administrators of Fort Tilden regarding the use of a room with a stage. It was on this day that a partnership was born… and on October 31, 1997, the RTC performed their first performance in Partnership with Gateway National Recreation Area at Fort Tilden in Building T-149. The new space boasted a raised stage, limited wing space and a large seating area.
With permission from our new partners, RTC began working on what would become one of the most critical expansions… the move to the Post Theatre (building T-4) on the Fort Tilden grounds. After the first production ended, RTC Staff and volunteers began cleaning up the Post Theatre. The Post Theatre was once a movie theatre on the Fort Tilden Army Base and since its closure has been long unused. The Rockaway Theatre Company entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Gateway National Recreation Area giving us permission to perform live theatre in exchange for restoring and renovating the building.
Over the next fifteen years, renovations to the Post Theatre would include removing seats that were damaged beyond repair, cleaning and refurbishing all 234 seats in the house, extending the movie theatre stage to make room for actors, installation of a curtain and proscenium arch, installation of modern theatrical lighting and sound systems, a complete overhaul of the dressing room, a roof replacement, installation of commercial Heating and Air Conditioning, a complete renovation of the restrooms and lobby. All of these renovations have been paid for by funding from ticket sales, fundraising efforts and grants. Luckily, we have an extremely talented group of volunteers. Our volunteers perform a vast majority of the work that needs to be done on the theatre. This allows us to save money on labor costs, so we end up getting more for our money.
Of course, all of these renovations were not done prior to opening the first production… the first production at the Post Theatre opened in June of 1998. At the time, there was no running water, working bathrooms, heat or A/C, thus the audience members for the first two seasons suffered some serious inconveniences.
Fifteen years later the RTC is stronger than ever boasting a newly renovated theatre and a consistent reputation of having Broadway quality theatre, in the heart of the Rockaways. Our patrons come from areas beyond Rockaway; some of our most loyal customers travel from areas in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Long Island, Connecticut, Westchester County as well as all four of the other boroughs of New York City to see our performances. Some of these performances include large musical production numbers such as “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”, “Oklahoma!”, ”Bye, Bye Birdie”, and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. A taste of our non-musical main stage productions includes “Brighton Beach Memoirs”, “The Odd Couple”, “Dancing at Lughnasa”, and “Steel Magnolias”. For a full listing of our past productions, please feel free to visit our photo and video gallery.
Not only has the RTC built a reputation for high-quality theatre, but we have developed a first-rate educational program providing an ever increasing and more diversified selection of workshops in various areas of theatre and performing arts. We have established a Young People’s Theatre Workshop which runs for five months of the year and culminates with a Broadway Quality musical production performed on the main stage, entirely by workshop students. These classes are offered to students between the ages of 8 and 18. For those older students, we offer a wide variety of Adult Seminars, featuring dance (Tap, Jazz & Ballroom), Zumba, Jazzercise, Acting, Vocal, Stage Management, Costume Design, Yoga and Cosmetics.
All of our workshop and seminar classes are taught by Licensed Teaching Professionals and/or professionals who have a great deal of experience in their craft. Some of our teaching staff includes New York State Licensed Teachers, College professors, Actors who have appeared on television and main stage performances both on and off Broadway, and Performers who have worked in professional Opera and been involved in National Tours of Broadway Musicals.
Our long term goal is to create a year-round theatrical season at the post theatre and to expand on our exciting array of educational programs, expand our list of supporters and to fulfill our mission of “Bringing Broadway to Rockaway.”