About Porchlight Music Theatre
Porchlight Music Theatre is the award-winning center for music theatre in Chicago. Through live performance, youth education and community outreach we impact thousands of lives each season, bringing the magic of musicals to our theatre home at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts in the city’s Gold Coast and to neighborhoods across the city. Porchlight has built a national reputation for boldly reimagining classic musicals, supporting new works and young performers, and showcasing Chicago’s most notable music theatre artists, all through the intimate and powerful theatrical lens of the “Chicago Style.”
Now in our 29th season, our quarter-century production history includes more than 70 mainstage works with 15 Chicago premieres and five world premieres. Porchlight’s commitment to the past, present and future of music theatre led the company to develop the Porchlight Revisits and New Faces Sing Broadway program series, both quickly becoming audience favorites.
Porchlight’s education and outreach programs serve schools, youth of all ages and skill levels and community organizations, and we love our ongoing collaboration with Chicago Youth Centers. We annually award dozens of full scholarships and hundreds of free tickets to ensure accessibility and real engagement with this uniquely American art form. The company’s many honors include 178 Joseph Jefferson Award (Jeff) nominations and 45 Jeff awards, as well as 33 Black Theatre Alliance (BTA) nominations and 12 BTA awards. This past season, Porchlight Music Theatre “graduated” to the Large Theatre tier of the Joseph Jefferson Equity Awards, stiffening our competition for the Jeff committee’s recognition. Porchlight celebrated its eight nominations in both technical and artistic categories and awards for Jermaine Hill, music direction and Lorenzo Rush Jr, solo performance, most notably Best Ensemble for Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies.
Through the current global pandemic, Porchlight emerged as one of Chicago’s leaders in virtual programming, quickly launching a host of free offerings like Sondheim @ 90 Roundtables, Movie Musical Mondays, Porchlight by Request: Command Performances and WPMT: Classic Musicals from the Golden Age of Radio. For the 2020-2021 season, Porchlight’s debuted new virtual ticketed programs including Broadway by the Decade, New Faces Sing Broadway 1987 and the return of The Ruffians’ Burning Bluebeard as well as collaborations with Hershey Felder, L.A. Theatre Works and more, as well as launching a new neighborhood summer concert series, Broadway in your Backyard.
(ABOVE: The cast of “Sunset Boulevard” (2019). Photo by Michael Courier)
Over the years, Porchlight Music Theatre has staged more than 75 productions, including many Chicago and world premieres. The company’s many honors include 178 Joseph Jefferson Award (Jeff) nominations and 45 Jeff awards, as well as 33 Black Theatre Alliance (BTA) nominations and 12 BTA awards. In 2019, Porchlight graduated to the Large Theatre tier of the Equity Jeff Awards, and was honored with eight nominations in both technical and artistic categories and won three awards in our inaugural year in this tier, most notably Best Ensemble for Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies. Porchlight is most proud of its five consecutive Best Production wins for The Scottsboro Boys-2017, Dreamgirls-2016, Sondheim on Sondheim-2015, Ain’t Misbehavin’-2014 and A Class Act-2013).
Porchlight Revisits: Rarely Seen Musical Gems in Limited Run
Our Mainstage series is just one way to enjoy Porchlight’s commitment to the great American genre of music theatre. Our hugely popular Porchlight Revisits series takes a look back at some of the more rarely produced works in the musical cannon with three titles each season in limited three-performance runs.
New Faces Sing Broadway: Ten Local Up-and-Comers Presenting One Season from Broadway
Our New Faces Sing Broadway revue series is presented three times per year. Each edition presents the ‘hits and misses’ of a given year on Broadway, emceed by a local theatre luminary, and showcasing 10 up-and-coming local music theatre stars.
The ICONS Gala & Chicago Sings
Education for Youth, Pros & Enthusiasts
Our commitment to the music theatre genre includes celebrating not only the past and present state of the art form, but also in nurturing its future. Through its own youth programming and through partnerships with Chicago Public Schools and local community organizations such as Chicago Youth Centers, Porchlight connects students with the art form, offering an opportunity to pursue training at a variety of skill levels, and makes a big impact on young people’s self-esteem, teamwork and communication skills. Porchlight’s youth classes and camps include Broadway Basics (ages 7 – 10), Musical Theatre Bootcamp (ages 11 – 13) and Advanced Musical Theatre for Teens (ages 14 – 17). We also partner with schools to provide everything from in-classroom education to after school workshops/camps to helping groups with all or part of their musical production.
Porchlight Music Theatre is proud to partner with Chicago Youth Centers to serve their students, parents and the greater communities of North Lawndale and South Shore. With all programming completely free to CYC and students, we offer our youth classes and camps, concerts and virtual activities at seven CYC locations throughout the year.
Off the Porch: The New-Work Development Program at Porchlight
We continue our forward-thinking commitment with our Off The Porch program of new musicals where we nurture new works in various stages of development. Recent projects we’ve helped move along include Miracle The Musical (which just concluded an extended run at the Royal George), Bran Castle, Everly Yours, Emptynesterhood and The Gatecrashers. In spring 2022, Porchlight will present a staged reading of a new musical, Clear, by Paul Oakley Stovall.
We welcome you to explore our site, get connected and become more involved with the Porchlight Music Theatre community; where artists, supporters, audiences and friends shine the light on passionate, innovative and relevant works that celebrate the past, present, and future of music theatre. We look forward to seeing you at the show!
Porchlight Music Theatre is a Proud Member of
A nationally recognized cultural institution in Chicago, Porchlight brings people together to explore the human experience through the art of music theatre fostering community, inclusion and empathy.
Porchlight, Chicago’s home for music theatre, illuminates the past, present and future of this American art form through live performance, youth education and outreach programs that positively impact and connect us to the community.
We believe that all voices and life experiences are essential to portraying on stage a complete picture of the human experience.
We are firmly committed to the music theatre genre presented in an intimate experience.
We treat artists, staff, volunteers and audiences with respect and dignity, inviting all into our artistic home.
We strive to be inclusive with representation in all aspects of our organization.
We invest in the future of music theatre through nurturing and mentoring the next generation of artists and audiences.
We ensure long-term organizational stability through prudent collaborations, strategic alliances and sound fiscal planning.
Porchlight embraces the diversity of our community and strives to be an inclusive organization, artistically and administratively. Throughout all aspects of our work, we welcome and support diversity, encompassing, but not limited to, age, gender, ethnicity, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation and economic status. This is key to our success as the home for music theatre in Chicago.
Learn more about our Equity, Diversity & Inclusion work.
The History of Porchlight Music Theatre
Porchlight Music Theatre was incorporated in 1995 by founding Artistic Director Jill Moore and a close group of artists and friends who aimed to create a company that would feel like home to artists and audiences alike. Porchlight came to symbolize creativity, comfort and community and for 26 years the company has kept that light shining brightly.
Under L. Walter Stearns’ artistic leadership from 1998-2011, the company took on more ambitious works and added its first Equity contracts in 2004. Porchlight’s wildly successful production of Ragtime during the 2006-2007 season was a turning point for the theatre when it enjoyed an extended run at Chicago’s Apollo Theater.
In 2010, veteran actor/director/artistic director Michael Weber took the artistic helm at Porchlight and the company continues to wow audiences with first-class, sophisticated and engaging music theatre, performed by the finest veteran and emerging actors, dancers and singers, with inventive direction, and arresting design innovations.
The 2016-2017 season for Porchlight was yet another key turning point in the company’s evolution. In The Heights, the season opener, attracted record attendance, critical acclaim and four extensions for an all-time high of 78 performances. This hit musical changed the face of the company and provided the capacity and economic stability for Porchlight to make the big move to its new performance venue, The Ruth Page Center for the Arts, in Chicago’s Gold Coast in fall 2017.
Since moving to The Ruth Page Center, the audience base continues to grow as Porchlight creates ever-more ambitious and exciting work. The company is proud of all of its achievements including the 178 Joseph Jefferson Award (Jeff) nominations and 45 Jeff awards, as well as 33 Black Theatre Alliance (BTA) nominations and 12 BTA awards. In 2019, Porchlight Music Theatre “graduated” to the Large Theatre tier of the Joseph Jefferson Equity Awards, stiffening our competition for the Jeff committee’s recognition. Porchlight’s 2019-2020 season did receive eight nominations in both technical and artistic categories and awards for Jermaine Hill, music direction and Lorenzo Rush Jr, solo performance, most notably Best Ensemble for Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies.
Through the current global pandemic, Porchlight has emerged as one of Chicago’s leaders in virtual programming, quickly launching a host of free offerings like Sondheim @ 90 Roundtables, Movie Musical Mondays, Porchlight by Request: Command Performances and WPMT: Classic Musicals from the Golden Age of Radio. For the 2020-2021 season, Porchlight’s fall schedule included all-new ticketed virtual programs including Broadway by the Decade, New Faces Sing Broadway 1987 and the return of The Ruffians’ Burning Bluebeard as well as collaborations with Hershey Felder and L.A. Theatre Works. Porchlight will continue to announce new premium and free offerings in 2021.