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How I Got My Union Card: House Management as a Second Career

Stephanie Wallis and Pat Roehrich

House Managers Stephanie Wallis and Pat Roehrich


Many people begin a show biz career early – in the first act of their lives. ATPAM recently caught up with two new members for whom their jobs as ATPAM House Managers came in the second act of their lives. On a recent Friday at the ATPAM Office, Pat Roehrich, House Manager at the Shubert Theatre, and Stephanie Wallis, House Manager at the Belasco, talked with us about the interesting routes they each took to arrive on Broadway.

How did you come across this line of work?

Stephanie: I was always interested in theatre when I was in school. I was working in Information Technology (IT) in Washington DC, but kept involved in the theatre by volunteering at the Studio Theater and the Shakespeare Theater there. I came to New York for a computer job with the AFofM Pension Fund. I started working as a substitute House Manager at the Jane Street Theatre when Hedwig and the Angry Inch was playing there. Funny how I would end up managing the Broadway theatre that housed Hedwig.

I was working as the House Manager at Second Stage when I asked a well-known director in the business if he wouldn’t mind looking over my resume for suggestions on how to shape it. Without my knowing it, he forwarded it to one of the theatre chains along with his recommendation and I was offered a NMAM (Non-Member Apprentice Manager) contract.

Pat: I came from a medical background. I had been managing physician offices at the Weill-Cornell Medical Center for over 20 years. I was introduced by a friend to ushering and started doing that part time at Circle in the Square and then at Wicked. I overlapped between my day job in the medical office and ushering for about 5 years. Then I became a directress at the Longacre Theatre. Right about the time I was being offered a retirement package from my medical job, the Shubert Organization announced a posting for a NMAM. I applied for the position and was accepted as an apprentice.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Stephanie: The variety. Every show is different: different feeling, cast of characters.

Pat: Seeing the show come together from the ground up is my favorite.

What part of the job do you find to be the most stressful?

Both: Dealing with Patrons!!!

Stephanie: Patrons carry a lot of baggage into the theatre…

Pat…but you have to let it roll off your back. Parenting skills are very important when dealing with patrons, and also with staff.

How did you prepare for the ATPAM certification exam?

Stephanie: I prepared by creating cheat sheets and studying with my friend Tim Sulka who was the NMAM on Jersey Boys at that time.

Pat: I had to remember how to study because it had been so long!  Eventually, I went and booked a hotel room – with good air conditioning! – for myself that summer so I could concentrate and focus on the material without any distractions. 

What do you like to do outside of work?

Stephanie: I volunteer at GMHC on Fridays. I love to travel.

Pat: I like to head for the hills: Mohonk Mountain House and the beach. I also like to swim at my local pool and do yoga.

What does being ATPAM mean to you?

Stephanie: I love the camaraderie.

Pat: Being in ATPAM provides a community that I didn’t have in my other job. I like being part of that community where you can share experiences and ask questions. It makes the problems you might have seem lighter.

Both: ATPAM certification means having a good paying job.

What advice would you give to anyone considering house management for a second career?

Stephanie: Go for it!

Pat: Know all that is involved. It’s a huge commitment.

The experiences gained from their previous jobs and the maturity that comes with living life made both Pat and Stephanie attractive candidates when the Shubert Organization was looking to fill these positions.

ATPAM salutes Pat and Stephanie for taking on challenging second careers as Broadway House Managers.

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