Porchlight’s Education & Engagement Programs serve audiences and students of all ages.

Our Youth Programs serve ages 4-17 years and are grounded in the power of the American art form of music theatre to tell stories and inspire confidence and a love of the arts. Our Engagement Programs deepen audience connection to the art, artists and the community. Have a question? Reach out to Education Director Rebeccah Singer* at rebeccah@porchlightmusictheatre.org.

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMING

FOR YOUTH, PROFESSIONALS, SCHOOLS, AND FOR ALL.

Summer Camp

Scholarships


Parent Testimonials

“This was her first Porchlight class . . . She’s done classes all over the city but this has been one of her favorite ones. The teachers were super high quality and I suggest that anybody who wants to enjoy a good musical theatre camp join Porchlight.

“The experience was wonderful overall . . . the fact that it helped her grow into a character that she was unfamiliar with and it enlightened her. Porchlight rocks!”

“Being able to have this opportunity to explore and do something different, something that I only wish I could have done. My daughters acquired talents that I didn’t even know they had, so it was amazing.”


CHECK OUT THESE ARTICLES ABOUT US:

Porchlight Music Theatre offers youth classes for ages 4-17 focusing on collaboration, self- confidence, all while singing, dancing and having fun!

Gemma Clarke* (she/her/hers)

Gemma Clarke holds a BFA in Acting from the DePaul Theatre School in Chicago and has been a teaching artist for several companies in both Seattle and Chicago such as Emerald City, Dream Big Performing Arts, Skyline Studios and Stage Struck Seattle. She has also danced at Pacific Northwest Ballet and Visceral Dance Center, as well as studied comedy with Second City and iO Chicago. She wholeheartedly believes in the power of Arts in education and is thrilled to be working with Porchlight Music Theatre!

 

Emma Costello* (she/her/hers)

Emma Costello grew up in Durango, CO where she did musical theatre for most of her childhood.  She then went to pursue her BFA in Theatre Arts at Stephens College. Theatre degree in hand, she moved to Denver, where she began directing plays for youth and taught acting to lots of passionate students.  Since moving to Chicago, she has been working as an aide for CPS, and was honored to help her school’s production of The Wizard of Oz.  Emma is thrilled to be working with Porchlight and believes the arts should be a safe space for all children to create, imagine and engage in new ways!

 

Agnotti Cowie^/* (they/them/she/her)

Agnotti Cowie grew up in Chicago and is passionate about the intersection of social justice, community dialogue and performing arts. They facilitate workshops employing a variety of pedagogical techniques such as InterPlay, Theatre of the Oppressed, Clowning and Devising.  Since 2013, she has been hired by InterPlay to produce and facilitate events around the world as well as recently becoming their Development Director. They are also freelancing for a number of theatre companies and schools, as a teaching artist, performer, and facilitator offering workshops in drama, puppetry, storytelling, musical theater, and movement.

 

David Goodloe+ (he/him/his)

David Goodloe is a Chicago native, who has been acting professionally for over a decade. Theater credits include Rastus and Hattie (16th Street Theater), Defiance (Buffalo Theatre Ensemble), Skin for Skin (The Agency Collective Theater), The Last Saint on Sugar Hill (MPAACT Theatre). On-camera credits include Proven Innocent (20th Century Fox), Chicago Med & Chicago PD (Wolf Films/Universal Television), D.I.N.K’s (Sole Productions), Thanks Mom (Breakwall Pictures LLC), Perceptions & Morning After (Acestroke Productions). For more information on his work, please go to www.davidgoodloe.com.

 

Rebecca Hurd* (she/her/hers)

Rebecca Hurd is an actor, singer, and teaching artist based in Chicago. Her local credits include: Relentless (Timeline/Goodman Theatre), Something Rotten! (Marriott Theatre), Mamma Mia! (Drury Lane Theatre), An Enemy of the People (Goodman Theatre), The Importance of Being Earnest (Writers Theatre), and in ShortShakes! Twelfth Night (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). TV credits include Chicago P.D. and NeXt. She cares deeply about empowering young people to discover their creative authenticity while bringing a spirit of curiosity and play into the classroom!

 

Victoria James* (she/her/hers)

Victoria James is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago where she received her BA in Musical Theater. She has performed in productions for Columbia College Chicago, and Firebrand Theatre Company. Out of her passion for theater Victoria developed a desire to work in arts education. Victoria is pleased to have choreographed Working: the Musical for Senn High School and also for Blank Theater Company’s Jeff Recommended production of She Loves Me

 

Marcus Jackson+ (he/him/his)

Marcus Jackson is ecstatic to be spreading a love of the arts with Porchlight Music Theatre! Past credits: “Joey” (Sister Act) at Mercury Theatre, “George” (Sunday in the Park…), “Hot Blades Harry” (Urinetown), “Lotte” (The Lady in Question), and “Big Jule” (Guys and Dolls). Marcus is fresh off of receiving his BFA in Musical Theatre Performance from Western Michigan University. He would like to give a shout-out to his parents, his partner and of course, his cat, Bubba.

 

Becky Keeshin* (she/her/hers)

Becky Keeshin has taught with Emerald City Theatre, Dovetail Dance Studio and Lombard Children’s Theatre Workshop. On Porchlight’s Stage: Porchlight Revisits Nunsense, Chicago Sings Steven Sondheim, New Faces Sing Broadway NOW. CHICAGO: ShakesFest! (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shrew’d (First Folio Theatre); Fiddler on the Roof (Lyric Opera of Chicago); 33 to Nothing, Killing Game (A Red Orchid Theatre), Junie B. Jones (Marriott Theatre); A Little Night Music (Writers Theatre). Becky received her BFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. She is represented by DDO Artists Agency. 

 

Chloe Lu McCarty* (she/her/hers)

Chloe Lu McCarty is a senior at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University and also teaches with the Joffrey Ballet School. She is passionate about arts education and nurturing young artists with Porchlight Music Theatre. Her recent performances include “Ensemble” in The Pajama Game and “Seyton” in Macbeth at CCPA and “Featured Dancer”
in Grand Carnivale at Dorney Park.

 

Tia Pinson* (Teaching Artist)

Tia Pinson is a Flint, MI native who continues to pursue her need to create, inspire and encourage through teaching, playing, and sharing. She hopes to provide an outlet of creative expression and development to community youth while exploring the multitudes of storytelling devices. Tia graduated from Western Michigan University with a BFA in Music Theatre Performance. Within her time in Chicago, she has worked with several companies including Raven Theatre, Emerald City Theatre, Filament Theatre and The House Theatre of Chicago.

 

Kayla Pulley* (she/her/hers)

Kayla is ecstatic to be a member of the Porchlight Theatre Teaching Artist team! This St. Louis native is a theatre graduate of Columbia College Chicago! In addition to teaching for Porchlight, she is a teaching artist for Playmakers Laboratory, Humor For Hope and the Second City Training Center.

 

Britta Schlicht* (she/her/hers)

Britta Schlicht is a proud CPS educator in drama, music, and English language arts. She has taught with Emerald City Theatre, Dream Big Music Theatre, Children’s Theatre of Madison and Improv Playhouse where she also held the role of Education Director. In addition to her passions in youth theatre education, Britta works professionally as a choreographer in the Chicago area. Her most recent work includes Nine, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Spring Awakening (Blank Theatre Company); Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Gypsy, Nevermore and The Little Mermaid  (JPAC), A Christmas Carol (Improv Playhouse), RENT (Middleton Players). She is thrilled to see what comes next!

 

Shaina Schrooten* (she/her/hers)

Shaina Schrooten is an actor and teaching artist who received her BFA in acting from the Conservatory of Theatre Arts at Webster University. As a teaching artist, she has taught with Emerald City Theatre, Actor’s Training Center, Musical Chairs and is a facilitator with ABLE Ensemble. Some recent favorite acting credits include Comedy Of Errors at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Romeo and Juliet with Montana Shakespeare Festival and Masque Macabre with Strawdog Theatre Company. When not teaching or acting, Shaina loves to be outside at the beach, camping or riding her bike. She will forever love to play dress up! Follow Shaina’s upcoming projects on her website: www.shainaschrooten.com

 

Wesly Anthony Clerge+ (he/him/his)

Wesly Anthony Clerge is thrilled to be a teaching artist for Porchlight Music Theatre, where he is also starring in Porchlight’s Mainstage production of RENT! Recently, he performed as “Sebastian the Crab” in Music Theater Works production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Other previous musical theatre credits include: The Phantom of the OperaSweeney Todd, Disney’s Beauty and the BeastGuys and DollsOnce on this Island and In The Heights. He has also performed numerous operatic roles including: Don GiovanniGianni SchicchiToscaL’étoile, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Die Fledermaus and many more. You can find out more about Wesly by following him on all social media platforms @IamWeslyAnthony or visiting his website: www.weslyanthonyclerge.com.

 

Will Wilhelm^ (they/them/theirs)

Will Wilhelm is a genderqueer actor, writer and educator. Chicago credits include NOTEBOOKS OF LEONARDO DA VINCI (Goodman), MR. BURNS (Theater Wit), and STRAIGHT WHITE MEN (Steppenwolf). Regional credits include RENT (Portland Center Stage); AS YOU LIKE IT, MACBETH, OKLAHOMA! (Oregon Shakespeare Festival). Will received a 2016 BroadwayWorld Chicago Award for their first performance as “Angel” in RENT (Metropolis Performing Arts). With Erin Murray, Will is the co-creator of the solo show GENDER PLAY and the podcast TEACAKES & TAROT. Proud Northwestern graduate. Represented by Gray Talent Group. WillWilhelm.com IG: @wwilhelm


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Our Class Philosophy

Porchlight Music Theatre youth classes are process based programs designed to build sequentially for young actors aged 4 – 17 years. Along with artistic skills like projection, singing in harmony, studying dance, acting and music, our Teaching Artists strive to create a classroom environment dedicated to ensemble, collaboration and building self-confidence. 

All students are welcome to participate in all classes – regardless of experience in past theatre classes or shows. Some students may crave pre-professional training while others are looking to try something new – success looks different for each student.  

Students will remain in the same age class for several terms (ex. Broadway Basics for ages 7 – 10) and get something new out of each class. Each time your child comes back to take a class with us, even when they repeat a level, they will learn new songs, build a new ensemble and create a new final performance. 

All of our youth classes are led by the following guiding principles: 

  • Tell Your Story
    • Every voice and experience is valuable and important.
    • By telling—or singing—our stories we help students find common ground and grow their empathy.  
  • American Art Form
    • Musical Theatre is a uniquely American art form. 
    • By learning this legacy of theater, dance and music, we inspire students to create the future musical that is uniquely theirs. 
  • Of Our Community
    • Students will be led to reflect and engage with the community around them and tell stories in Porchlight’s signature Chicago style. 
  • Access
    • Access to arts and arts education is a right. 
    • We are committed to providing music theatre education to all – in and out of the classroom– across Chicago. 
  • Joy
    • More than anything, we encourage our students and ourselves to find  joy in the classroom. 

Classroom Inclusion Statement

With a commitment to inclusion and access in everything we do, Porchlight Music Theatre classes strive to be a welcoming space for students of all abilities, ethnicities, socio-economic status, sexual orientations and gender identities. We are excited to include students using AAC and welcome personal care assistants into our classrooms. All youth programs have scholarships, financial aid and payment plans available through application. At the DePaul School of Music there is access to all-gender restrooms, an elevator and all classes begin with introductions including pronouns.  Teaching Artists are ready to meet your student’s individual physical, learning and social needs. If there is anything we can do to be more welcoming to your young actor, please let us know.

Which class should I register my student for? 

As a general rule we recommend that you register your child for their correct age group, regardless of past music theatre experience. No refund or credit will be issued if a student is registered for an age-inappropriate program and Porchlight staff determine it to be an unsuccessful fit.

Why repeat the same class?
Our curriculum is designed to build from basics to advanced skills in all areas of music theatre performance: dance, music, acting. Each time your child comes back to take a class with us, even when they repeat a level, they will learn new songs, build a new ensemble and create a new final performance. Our Teaching Artists challenge each student at their own level!
What should I bring to class? 

It is important to come prepared to move. Students should wear comfortable clothing that is easy to dance in and closed-toed shoes. Once we have a script for our performance, please have students bring it back to class each week. If you would like to, attendees may also bring a personal mask to wear during class each week. Please send your student with a water bottle with a closable top.

What will students wear in the final performance?  

Costumes will be created together from a combination of pieces you can grab at home and things we will make together. We will let you know with ample notice if your child needs to bring something to class. We will never need you to go out and purchase something especially for class. 

In addition to COVID-19 precautions, how do you ensure child safety?

There is nothing more important to us than the well-being of the young people we serve. All Porchlight Music Theatre Teaching Artists are background checked against the following databases: 

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation and Illinois State Police
  • A check against the Illinois Sex Offender Public Website, the National Sex Offender Public Website, and the Illinois State Police Child Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registry
  • The DCFS Database. 

Teaching Artists are all Mandated Reporters trained in recognizing and reporting  cases of child abuse and neglect.

All Teaching Artists are certified in Adult and Pediatric CPR/First Aid/AED and at least one member of the teaching team will additionally be certified in Epi Pen administration. 

Porchlight has an Emergency Action Plan that covers shelter-in-place, emergency evacuation and medical emergencies. Teaching Artists and Porchlight staff review the plan and train for emergency preparedness each year. 

Are scholarships available?

Full and partial scholarships and payment plans are available for all Porchlight Music Theatre youth programs. Financial aid is awarded based on need and interest by submitting this application. Please notify us at the time of application if there are barriers (such as transportation) so we can best serve your family.

Families are welcome to apply for multiple programs throughout the year, but only one scholarship per child per program will be awarded.

Please be prepared to verify all information included in the application for our records.

Donate to our youth education offerings here

Scholarships Provided due to generous donations from

Allstate is the principal sponsor of the summer camp scholarship program.

Is your question not listed? Please reach out to Education Director Rebeccah Singer* at rebeccah@porchlightmusictheatre.org for further details, any questions or concerns!

COVID-19 Safety Policies for Youth Classes & Camps

Guidelines and recommendations were created following advice from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Illinois Department of Health and Chicago Public Schools. Policies may update based on expert recommendations. We will send an email to enrolled families if our COVID policies change due to current trends.

Face Masks Encouraged – While inside the DePaul School of Music building, we encourage all students and Teaching Artists to wear a face mask over their nose and mouth. 

Practicing Good Hygiene – We will be limiting the number of items that are shared or touched amongst students and disinfecting those that are shared. We will monitor students to make sure they are washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when they don’t have easy access to soap and water. 

Safe Eating Practices – When students will be eating during class, such as during Summer Camp, we will take extra measures to keep everyone safe. For Summer Camp, we go to Oz Park for lunch and recess time when the weather allows. For snacks or when weather does not permit eating outside, we will encourage distancing while eating and follow a no share policy when it comes to food or drink. 

Final Performances – Our final performances will be in-person. We ask that all attendees wear a mask at all times when in the building and theatre, due to the size of the gathering.

Positive Cases – We ask that you stay in communication with us if your child begins to feel unwell. If your child feels symptomatic we ask you to take a rapid test before coming to class or camp. If the rapid test is negative you may attend class right away.  If the rapid test is positive and/or if a subsequent PCR test is positive we ask you to let us know and not attend class or camp. 

Once your student is fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication and symptoms have improved, they are welcome to return to class after five days of quarantine. As a reminder, Day 1 of quarantine begins on the day that symptoms started or the day AFTER a positive test. If they are still symptomatic after Day 5, please continue to isolate at home and retest.

If a positive case occurs in your student’s class, we will let you know (without the student name or teacher name) via email as soon as we are notified. 

COVID Refunds – If your child is unable to attend class or camp due to illness, we will process a prorated refund.

Drop Off/Pick Up Policy 

Drop off begins 15 minutes before camp or class begins and ends 15 minutes after camp or class ends. We cannot accept any students prior to this window. Please note a fee of $1/min will be charged for pick ups occurring 15 minutes after camp or class has ended.

A photo ID must be presented at pickup to sign out a child. Teaching Artists will have a list of authorized pick up people. No one will be allowed to pick up a child who is not listed as an authorized pick up person. To add people to the authorized pickup list, email rebeccah@porchlightmusictheatre.org.

There is a circle driveway you are welcome to use for drop off and pick up, but please do not plan to park there long term. Porchlight is not responsible for any tickets that you may receive if parked in the circle driveway. 

Cancellation Policy 

Porchlight Music Theatre has the right to cancel a class up to one week prior to the start date. Refunds will be processed if a class or camp is canceled. No refunds available if a purchaser drops a class or camp unless the spot can be filled from a waitlist. If a spot can be filled, a refund will be given.

Porchlight Music Theatre has the right to determine minimum enrollment. A refund will not be processed if a purchaser believes the enrollment to be too low.

Transfers towards a different camp or class session may not be possible.

Nut-Free Policy 

All Porchlight Music Theatre programs are nut-free environments to ensure the safety of all participants. No sharing of food is allowed, even between siblings. Depending on a child’s allergies, we may ask you to refrain from bringing additional food items (such as strawberries, sesame, etc.) as well. We appreciate your cooperation to make class as safe as possible.

Get Connected with Porchlight Education!

Bring Chicago’s home for music theatre into your classroom! We love to see your students at the theater, working in your classroom at school, and on stage putting together a musical of their own.


Sing Out! Literacy and Theatre Residency

Supports Illinois Core ELA Standards alongside theatre basics that promote social-emotional learning, collaboration, and confidence. Choose a book title, historical era, or theme and Teaching Artists and students will spend several weeks learning to adapt it into a musical piece. 

All grade levels can be accommodated.

 

Production Support

We love joining your students to help mount your school’s musical! Count on Chicago’s music theatre experts to help choose a title and obtain theatrical rights, cast, stage, even costume, your show! 

Class works best with grades 3 and up.

 

Make Your Own Musical 

Students in this after school class create their own musical from start to finish! Along the way they learn theatre basics, play lots of games, create props and costume pieces, and collaborate on a final performance for family and friends. 

All grade levels can be accommodated.

 

For more details or to schedule something, please reach out to Education Director Rebeccah Singer* at  rebeccah@porchlightmusictheatre.org.


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Attend a show with Porchlight!

Porchlight Music Theatre offers weekday student matinee showings to school, homeschool, or community groups. All student matinee shows take place on weekdays at 10:30 AM.

Attending a performance gives students an exciting, visceral and intimate look at live theatre. All student matinee performances end in a post-show discussion with the artists involved in making the show happen. Student groups join us for just $5 a ticket! All performances take place at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts – 1016 N. Dearborn St.

Reservations for the 2022-23 school year are now open! Check out our season offerings below:

To schedule a student matinee with your students, email Education Director Rebeccah Singer* at rebeccah@porchlightmusictheatre.org.

All shows are two acts and run approximately two and a half hours with a 15 minute intermission. Buses should arrive at 10:00 am and plan to return for pickup at 1:00 pm.

Mainstage Masterclass — A Pre-Show/Post-Show Workshop!

Complete your students’ experience with Pre and Post Show Workshops! We come right to you in your classroom or extend our time with you in the theatre! Workshops are 45-60 minutes in length.

  • Pre-Show Workshops cover an intro to theatre, the themes and concepts of the show and the process to create the show they are about to see.
  • Post Workshops use interactive activities to reinforce comprehension of themes with a more hands on approach to making theater themselves.

Add one workshop or the other or both to your field trip experience! Prices vary depending on class size and duration.

For more details, please reach out and email Education Director Rebeccah Singer* at rebeccah@porchlightmusictheatre.org.


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Enthusiast and Engagement Programming

Porchlight is excited to offer a unique series of classes designed for our patrons to deepen their understanding and appreciation for the art and history of Musical Theatre!

Current Offerings:

Broadway by the Decade

at the Wicker Park Field House
1425 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

In this class, participants will go ‘behind-the-scenes’ of six classic Broadway musicals; one from each decade from the 1960’s to today! We’ll cover how each show was made, how it affected Broadway, how it holds up today, with lots of fun facts and trivia along the way! This discussion-based class will be led by Chris Pazdernik who Newcity Chicago described as having a near-encyclopedic knowledge of musicals.” Chris will share his personal library of photos, songs, and video clips from each production to give a more complete picture of each decade’s show. Best of all, those who sign up for the class will get to vote on what shows we cover!

Wednesdays, 6:30 – 7:30 PM
Jan 18 – Feb 22

All Ages Welcome, $80 per student

Taught by Christopher Pazdernik=

Register for Broadway by the Decade

About the Instructors

Christopher Pazdernik=  is the current Managing & Casting Director at Theo Ubique Theatre and a previous Producing Associate & Company Manager at Porchlight Music Theatre. As a Director, he is best known for his site-specific production of High Fidelity, winning non-Equity Jeff Awards for Best Director & Best Musical. Other credits include work with Refuge Theatre Project (former Artistic Director), Chicago Musical Theatre Festival, Round Barn Theatre, Chicago Theatre Workshop, Underscore Theatre Company, Pride Films & Plays, Eclectic Theatre Company, Ohio Northern University, two years of the Non-Equity Jeff Awards and this spring, Godspell at Theo Ubique. An openly HIV+ artist, they are most proud of producing Belt Fest, an annual benefit concert for Howard Brown Health, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ organizations.


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Have ideas for classes you’d like to attend? Please email rebeccah@porchlightmusictheatre.org. We always love to hear what you want to learn about!