Founding The National Broadway Theatre
Performing arts have been Jacob and Chris’ passion since they were very young. With Jacob graduating from Fryeburg Academy, in Fryeburg, Maine and Chris from Interlochen Arts Academy, in Interlochen, Michigan, they both grew up involved in professional theater, film and dance productions. When the time came, it only made sense for them to study theater at the collegiate level, Jacob in Directing, (Temple University) and Chris in Music Theatre (The Hartt School). The two then relocated to New York City where they first met working within the theater scene. Both Jacob and Chris began to grow their careers in the arts, working on productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway, National Tours, Regional Houses, Opera, and Film, earning accolades such as Josephine New York Theatre Award nominations, as well as regional awards for excellence in choreography and directing.
After six years in New York City, the Covid-19 Pandemic forced a pivot in their lives. New York took on enormous impact, sending Broadway productions and smaller regional theaters alike to close their doors; some to never reopen. Soon, the two found themselves relocating to the beautiful city of Grand Rapids, MI. While settling into this new city, Jacob became involved with local community theaters, beginning by teaching and directing at The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, and Jewish Theatre Grand Rapids. Chris thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of his new career path in Finance, but still held onto his passion for performing, and soon enough was cast as member of the Grand Rapids Opera. While working in the generous and welcoming Grand Rapids theater community, Jacob began to notice that something was missing. The city of Grand Rapids is vibrant with professional ballet, opera and symphonies, but as far as paying professional theatre, that creative outlet was left empty. The area is fortunate to have tremendous community theater productions, but these actors were missing one thing, and that was a paycheck for their work. It was this moment that Jacob and Chris set out to create a non-profit, professional theater company, and The National Broadway Theatre was born.
As the only professional, paying, non-profit theater company in Grand Rapids, our mission is to enrich lives through the magic of theater, community engagement, and cultural enrichment. NBT gives back to the community through the creation of sustainable jobs for our diverse population, enhancing the arts offerings, and providing educational opportunities for local talent and talent that has yet to be discovered. We offer innovative works that explore diverse themes, perspectives, and styles, appealing to very diverse audiences. Not only does NBT hire locally, but also provides employment to artists from across the nation, hosting auditions in NYC, Chicago and Boston, bringing broadway talent to Grand Rapids, and housing guest artists in our local hospitality, helping to leave a positive mark on the Metro-Grand Rapids arts landscape.