Thomas Novak

Tommy Novak

Class Year

’11, M.M ’20

Current home

Chicago, Illinois


Theatre Performance and Directing; Master’s of Music Theater Vocal Pedagogy

Current Position

AEA actor, freelance director, and adjunct professor of music theatre at Carthage College

Carthage has prepared me for the real world by helping me become a well rounded professional theater artist. Hard work, determination, and passion are key to being a successful theatrical artist.

I am currently working as an actor, wardrobe, and freelance teaching artist. I have acted with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, First Stage Children’s Theater, The Marcus Center in Milwaukee, Two Lights, and the Utah Shakespeare Festival. I am a teaching artist for First Stage Theater Academy, The Utah Shakespeare Festival, and Broadway Bound Musical Theater Day camp. I am building an acting studio doing audition prep and monologue work for high school and up. Some of the workshops I teach for professional companies, schools, and for corporate events include Improvisation, Shakespeare, Musical theater, Stage Combat, Voice coaching (Estil), Animal Instinct of Acting, Audition Prep, and Arts integration Education. I plan on getting an MFA in Acting or Directing. I hope to be able to work as an actor/director and eventually become a faculty member on a college theater faculty or an artistic director of a theater company. We will see where this crazy world takes me.

My advice for current students would be to take the time to learn anything and everything. Once you’re out of school it’s harder to take the time to study or take classes post-college. Don’t just learn everything about one discipline in theater; find something else to specialize in. Theater is a collaborative art form and you never know when a play will call for something from another discipline. If you are an actor, know what it’s like to work as a Technician. If you are a technician, see what it’s like to audition. Having the knowledge of other areas will help you to respect other jobs in the theater. Overall, be a collaborative, hard-working, dedicated, and passionate artist. The more work you put into your craft, the more opportunities you will get out of it.”

“Take the time to learn anything and everything. Once you’re out of school it’s harder to take the time to study or take classes post-college.”

Tommy Novak, ’11, M.M ’20

What have you enjoyed most about your career?

“My career has taken me all over the world and country, both in teaching and performing. I love meeting and collaborating with people who love performing.”

How did Carthage prepare you?

“Carthage has given me the opportunity and confidence to tackle the difficult profession of music and performing. It has helped instill in me that the search for knowledge is life long, and we can always grow as we move through it. Without Carthage, I would be nowhere near the same place in my career as I am currently.”

Why did you choose Carthage?

“I felt like it chose me in many ways. There came a moment in my search for the ‘right school’ that Carthage seemed to drop into my lap. I think a strength Carthage had was that the faculty here have their fingers on the real world outside the academic walls. It was very helpful to have that kind of support and knowledge that the fine arts faculty here does.”

What opportunities were made possible because of your Carthage experience?

“I have been able to travel and teach because of Carthage, specifically in China. I’ve seen how the world thrives through interdisciplinary studies, and my well-roundedness of study has helped me find work in my field. Because of Carthage, I have been able to attend and present work at national conferences, and work with other colleagues to get my works published in a journal.”

What Carthage professors played a part in your success and how?

“The faculty here are unlike others in the country. They care about their student and help them succeed and grow one-on-one. They care about the students, and will do anything to help them in any way.”

Are you a Carthage alum who is excelling in your field?