Little Traverse Civic Theatre was born in 1945 when a group of ambitious, talented volunteers organized an acting troupe under the name Petoskey Little Theatre. In January 1946, they presented their first play, You Can’t Take it With You. The group went on to present an average of three plays a year. In the spring of 1960, the group began a two-year reorganization; no plays were produced, but new members were recruited and plans were developed for the future. At this time, the name was changed to Little Traverse Civic Theatre to better represent the area the group served. The new name was then chartered as a Michigan non-profit corporation and later as a federal 501(c)3 corporation. Productions began again in 1962 with The Mouse that Roared.
In 1967, LTCT had grown to the point where they could produce their first full-scale musical, Guys and Dolls. It was another musical, Fiddler on the Roof, presented in 1973, which began the group’s ascent to its present successful position. This production was so well received by the community that for the first time LTCT had a bank account healthy enough to allow the group to produce equally ambitious shows without having to constantly borrow money to do so. LTCT has remained in a healthy financial position and retained and grown their audience since that time, currently producing three mainstage adult shows and one children’s show each season.
These achievements were possible despite the lack of a permanent home. The group persevered all those years, rehearsing and performing in various area schools; Stafford’s Bay View Inn; Voorhies Hall in Bay View; and a converted movie theatre in Harbor Springs. Finally, in May of 1981, LTCT became a tenant of the newly opened Crooked Tree Arts Center, the former Methodist Church of Petoskey. The first audience event presented in the Arts Center was LTCT’s production of Oliver, which played to full houses in the pews of the converted sanctuary. LTCT’s symbiotic relationship with the Crooked Tree Arts Center continues today with a lease that runs until 2015. In 1989, the LTCT Board of Directors decided that it was time to stop moving lumber, tools, and supplies from one set construction and storage location to another. A building suitable for storage of flats, costumes, props, and other assorted theatrical necessities, as well as large enough for construction, was purchased in 1989.
After nearly 62 years of continuous operation LTCT has realized that it is time for a major reorganization. Since 1963, when the group became incorporated, LTCT has operated under essentially the same by-laws and board structure. There have been minor revisions from time to time but there is still a ten person Board of Directors comprised of active members of the group, five elected in one year for a two-year term and five elected the following year for a two-year term; and with the same standing committees and all volunteer management. In the past three years, the Board of Directors has come to realize and then take action on positive changes for the future. First, a new full time paid staff position of Managing Director has been added. This person will guide the organization, manage the budget, provide key public relations in the community, and serve as the source of history and information to successive boards. Secondly, the Board has committed to completely rewriting the by-laws, drawing from the by-laws of other successful community theatres. Finally, as part of the by-law restructuring, the composition and the work of the Board of Directors will change. The Board will now be comprised largely of local business leaders and influential people with representatives from the theatre community there to advise them. Two councils will be formed that answer to that Board – the Production Council will govern all of the areas that directly relate to the season’s productions including the selection of plays and the Operations Council will oversee all fundraising and business aspects. Another key change that resulted from this effort is a new, streamlined mission statement which is: The mission of Little Traverse Civic Theatre is to enrich, educate, and entertain the Little Traverse Bay community, its visitors, our volunteers, and our audiences through theatre arts.
As the Board worked on making these changes, another need became apparent. The office provided by the lease at the Crooked Tree Arts Center was not of a sufficient size to accommodate a full time staff person and meeting space was non-existent due to the growth in Arts Center activities. This same growth meant that rehearsal space, which had previously been available in the Arts Center, was also at a premium. A search ensued for a space that could accommodate an office large enough for the group’s needs and was accessible to the public, had sufficient room for meetings, and was large enough to closely replicate the size of the Arts Center stage for rehearsals. A nearly perfect place was found at 1213 Rice Street in Petoskey. The former tenants had left behind two large glassed in offices and the remaining space was almost a perfect replica of the stage. The Board negotiated with the building’s owner for a favorable lease, and moved into their new home in February 2008. The lease at the Crooked Tree Arts Center is still in place and LTCT will continue to perform their mainstage shows there as well as keep a storage space in their former office.
Little Traverse Civic Theatre is a proud member of: