The School at Porchlight

The School at Porchlight is a comprehensive exercise and educational environment where youth, working professionals and music theatre enthusiasts can create, practice, perform and appreciate the unique music theatre art form. The School offers classes in several disciplines including performing, writing and scholarship.

NOTE: For the most up-to-date information on class cancellations or changes, please visit our Facebook Page. For additional information, contact

Classes & Workshops Follow The School at Porchlight on Facebook!

Adult Programming

  • Professional Training: Classes in Performance, Professional Advancement & Music Theatre Writing
  • Appreciation: Events for the Music Theatre Fanatic

Youth Programming

  • Youth Musical Theatre Intensive: Spend your Saturdays receiving top of the line training from professional Chicago actors and putting together an exciting Musical revue for friends and family. Sign-ups will be open soon!
  • Youth Production: Check back soon for an exciting announcement about our first full Youth Production this Spring!
  • Summer Camps: Our Signature “Make Your Own Musical” Program returns in 2020!
  • School-Year Education: Bringing the Gift of Music Theatre to Students around Chicago


Unless otherwise specified, all adult classes are held at:

Porchlight Studios
4200 W. Diversey Ave. (two blocks west of Pulaski)

Free parking is available on the street or in the adjacent parking lot. By public transportation, take the #76 bus and exit at the Tripp St. stop. Youth classes and camps are held in a variety of locations. Visit the individual pages for more information.

Professional & Advanced Training

Educational programs are a vital part of Porchlight Music Theatre’s mission. Advanced Training classes at The School offer actors and enthusiasts alike an opportunity to hone their talents under the tutelage of local theatre professionals.

Porchlight for the Professional

Classes in Performance, Professional Advancement & Music Theatre Writing

Check Out Our Current and Upcoming Classes!

Purchase a 10 Class Membership Card for Just $100!

With a 10 class membership card to The School at Porchlight, students are eligible to take a variety of drop in specific classes offered at our newly renovated facility and taught by master teachers and seasoned professionals. Cards will be held at the office front desk for pick up.

Purchase Membership Card!

Appreciation: Events for The Music Theatre Fan

Are you music theatre aficionado? A one-time groupie? An I-wish-I-had-the-talent fan? Then our Appreciation events are for you. Explore, discuss and learn with fellow music theatre lovers, under the informative guidance of our experienced theatre professionals.

Previous Events:

The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Musicals

Instructor: Cheri Coons

The Stephen Sondheim  Musicals – Part 1: Finishing the Hat

Instructor: Cheri Coons

The Stephen Sondheim  Musicals – Part 2: Look I Made a Hat

Instructor: Cheri Coons


Youth Programs at Porchlight:


Thank you all for making Summer Camp 2019 such a success. We had an amazing time creating two brand new musicals with our amazing campers and we are already looking forward to Summer Camp 2020!

Watch this page for exciting Youth Programming announcements coming soon! We have so much planned for the youth of Chicago this year and we can’t wait to get started!


Partner With Porchlight!

Porchlight Music Theatre is looking for opportunities to partner with grade schools and high schools who would like to expand their current performing arts programming. We have been a staple in the Chicago theatre community for over 20 years, and are excited about our work with youth and in music theatre education. Would you like to offer drama as an in school or after school program? Have you always wanted to have a school or grade wide musical/operetta offered? Does one of your teachers hope to teach a social studies unit like Lin-Manuel Miranda? We can help you with that!

For inquiries and more information, contact Education Associate Michelle Lauto at






In School Programs

Musical Theatre Classes
  • Partnering with current drama, dance, or music teachers at your school
Unit Based Musical Enrichment
  • Work with students to create songs and dances based on a unit of study
  • Utilize musicals about poignant events and topics to enhance students’ knowledge and create a performance (Hamilton, The Scottsboro Boys, Newsies, Les Miserables, Annie, etc.)

After School Programs

  • Make your own musical workshops
  • Themed workshops based on kid-friendly musicals

School Musical Theatre Productions

  • We can help produce your school’s musical production! Create buzz with parents and students by having Chicago’s premiere Music Theatre partner with your school
  • Help hiring directors, choreographers, designers, and musicians
  • Help your students be the best actors, singers, and dancers they can be!

Field Trips

  • Pre and post show discussions/workshops available


Student Groups at Porchlight’s Mainstage

Experience the passion of Chicago’s music theatre and enjoy our productions with your school or community group! The Ruth Page Center for the Arts is wheelchair accessible with convenient restrooms on both the main floor and balcony level. Bus drop-off available directly in front of the theatre.

Student Groups of 10 or more

Additional performances can be added for larger groups, pending availability. For more information or to inquire about adding a performance, please contact

Book a Student Group!

Austin Cook

Classes Taught: Booked!
Austin is an award-winning music director and pianist currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. After spending seven years as a music director in Chicago, Austin made the move to New York in 2016. He is now a vocal coach & accompanist in the prestigious graduate acting school of NYU. In addition to music directing productions and new musical workshops in Broadway development, Austin serves as one of the top audition accompanists to the largest hiring agencies in New York City. Before becoming a full-time musical theatre music director. Austin toured the United States & Europe performing as a classical solo pianist and accompanist. In 2009 Austin moved to Chicago where he began his work in musical theatre. In 2011-2013, he toured with the 1st Broadway National Tour of Million Dollar Quartet as the tour musical director.

Cheryl Coons

Classes Taught: Musical Theatre Writing
Cheryl is a playwright/lyricist, and has co-written more than a dozen musicals which have received professional productions, including River’s End  (ASCAP Foundation Harold Arlen Musical Theatre Award, Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for Original Script and Score, Theatre for the American Musical Award, NAMT and NYMF), At Wit’s End (Carbonell Award for Best New Work), Sylvia’s Read Good Advice (Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work), Female Problems (After Dark Award for Best Music) and Phantom of the Country Opera, published by Music Theatre International. Her work has been developed and showcased at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center’s National Music Theatre Conference, the National Alliance of Musical Theater’s Festival of New Works, and the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF).  Projects she’s written have twice been selected for the ASCAP Workshop in Los Angeles and Chicago. Her original novelty songs have been featured on Good Morning, America, The Today Show, and NPR’s Morning Edition. She is the Chicago Regional Rep for the Dramatists Guild.

Matt Crowle

Classes Taught: Advanced/Professional Theatre Tap
Matt Crowle is a Chicagoland performer, educator, and choreographer.  He was last seen st Porchlight Music Theatre in Porchlight Revisits: Little Me and in his 2015 Jeff Award winning turn as Hysterium in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumCrowle, a Porchlight artistic associate, also made his directorial debut here with the Midwest premier of Double Trouble.  A proud member of SDC, other Chicago directorial and choreographic highlights include Singin’ In The Rain (Jeff nom: Best Choreography), White Christmas (Jeff nom: Best Choreography) and Crazy For You.  Chicago and regional highlights include Patsy (Jeff nom) in Spamalot, Cosmo Brown (Jeff nom) in Singin’ In the Rain, and Albert Peterson in Bye Bye, Birdie, all at Drury Lane; Hunter in [title of show], Northlight Theatre; Bert in Mary Poppins, Paramount Theatre; Leo Bloom (Jeff nom) in The ProducersMercury Theater Chicago; Frederick Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein, St. Michael’s Playhouse; and Cornelius Hackl in Hello, Dolly!, Gateway Playhouse.  He performed in the Broadway company of Monty Python’s Spamalot under the direction of Mike Nichols, and tap danced across the country with Tommy Tune in the national tour of Doctor DolittleMatt earned his BFA in music theatre under the guidance and mentorship of the late great Dr. Bruce Kirle. More at

Amanda Compton Lopresti

Classes Taught: Fundamentals of Dance for Classical Singers
Amanda Compton LoPresti is a singer, dancer, teacher, and choreographer based in Chicago.  Her unique training as both a dancer and classical singer has helped her carve a niche in operatic and musical theater houses, both regionally and internationally, with companies such as the Glimmerglass Festival, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Theatre du Capitole (Toulouse), Opera National de Bordeaux, Drury Lane, Theatre at the Center, Chicago Music Theatre Works, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus.  She has been a teaching artist and choreographer with the CSO at IYC-Warrenville for at risk youth, Chicago Opera Theatre, and the Chicago Composer’s Orchestra.  She’s a proud graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University, and the University of WI-Madison.

Ariane Dolan

Classes Taught: Ballet Foundations for the Actor
Ariane Dolan began  her training at the Academy of Movement & Music in Oak Park and began  classes at LCDS in 1981. In 1983 she joined Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance  Theatre, with whom she performed until 1994, afterward joining the  faculty, teaching ballet & Graham technique. Currently, she is a music  theatre performer and has appeared in several musicals throughout the  country and has worked in the Chicago area at the Mariott Lincolnshire  Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Drury Lane Evergreen Park, and the  Candlelight Dinner Playhouse. She has a BA in theatre from Roosevelt  University. Ariane has choreographed for multiple shows at Drury Lane Theatre  and Don’t Dress for Dinner at the Royal George Theatre. Ariane received  the Ari Zoni Award for best performance in a musical in 1997. Her film/TV  credits include Save the Last Dance (Julia Stile’s ballet double) and PBS’s  Love in Four Acts.

Annie Jo Ermel

Classes Taught: Beginning and Intermediate Tap Technique
Annie Jo is a Chicago area performer, educator, and choreographer. She began her training as a child in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin with Riederer School of Dance, dancing on scholarship at various NADAA dance conventions and performing on her high school dance team, and she now holds a BFA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. AJ has studied on scholarship with the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project of Chicago and performed professionally at The Marriott, Drury Lane, and Paramount, as well as various other suburban community theatres. She’s choreographed over 50 musicals on various Chicagoland stages as well as taught various styles of dance at studios, schools, and in master class workshops, specializing in tap, jazz, and musical theatre. AJ considers herself a high energy artist who believes that a bold, polished, engaging finished product is best achieved through a collaborative, committed, and positive environment and process.

J. Sebastian Fabal

Classes Taught: Musical Theatre Writing
Sebastian is a composer/lyricist and bookwriter. Originally from Miami, Florida, he recently moved to Chicago after 7 years in New York City where he received his MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Full length shows: Steve-25, 14 Reasons Why I Love You, Crazy Bet, Yoey & Yeya, Toy Soldiers, Losing Nora, Alligator Ali (book/lyrics by Chris Widney), The Tenth Floor (book by Sara Cooper, Next Link Selection NYMF 2010, Talkin’ Broadway Outstanding New Musical Citation); Children’s Theatre: Help Wanted: Pirates!, The Elko Aliens (both with book/lyrics by Chris Widney).

Tammy Mader

Classes Taught: 4 Legged Tap; Active 8’s
Tammy is a veteran of Chicagoland musical theatre and has won multiple Jeff Awards for her choreography. She teaches master classes and workshops at the college level and was on staff at Columbia College. She is currently on faculty at Lou Conte Dance Studio. Tammy is the creator of the advanced concept “Active Dance,” which is exclusively offered here at The School at Porchlight.

Craig V. Miller

Classes Taught: Jazz Dance Technique
Craig began his training in the Fine Arts Academy at Southfield-Lathrup High School and Motor City Dance Factory, and then attended Oakland University as a Merit Scholarship student earning a B.A. in Dance Performance. He has trained with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, and the Ailey School summer intensives. Craig was an apprentice for Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, a member of the Michigan Dance Project, Inaside Chicago Dance, Esoteric Dance Project, Dance in the Parks, and Chicago Repertory Ballet. He has performed works by Louis Falco, Amy Marshall, Sean Curran, Robert Moses, Joel Hall, Harrison McEldowney, Autumn Eckman, Alonzo King, Randy Duncan, Monique Haley, and Kristina Isabelle to name a few. As a guest artist, he has performed with the Civic Ballet of Chicago’s production of The Nutcracker and Chicago Dance Crash. Choreography credits include: The Color Purple (Mercury Theater Chicago, Assoc. Choreographer; Broadway World Award-Best Choreography in a Musical), Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Porchlight Music Theater, Asst. Choreographer; Joseph Jefferson Award Winner for Best Production of a musical review), Rent (Artist’s Giving Back World AIDS Day), and Carl Neilsen’s Maskarade (Vox3 Collective, Choreographer). His work has also been presented at Dance Chicago, Dance Chance, and Chicago Freelance Dance. Craig has been training dancers for 14 years, and is a Peffpointe© certified teacher at the 25 hour level.

Cam Turner

God! I’m a Mover! A Mover Dances
Cameron has been involved in most forms of dance from very young age. He started with tap and jazz and his desire to dive into all techniques grew, from ballet to hip-hop and he eventually became an official competition dancer. Cameron was a member of the Rocky Mountain School of Dance under the direction of Lynne Wagoner-Patton, who is also head of the America’s Got Talent runner-ups, The Silhouettes. Cameron was lucky enough to work with choreographers such as Mark Meismer, Dennis and Dee Caspary, Nick Bowman, Nick Lazzarini and many more. While competing, Cameron received many regional and national titles such as Elite Male Senior Dancer and Best Comedic Dance Performance. Cameron graduated from Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, earning his BFA in Musical Theatre and where he received dance training from Hubbard Street Dance and Joffrey Ballet instructors as well as with Broadway veterans and Radio City Rockettes. While at school, Cameron found his passion for choreography and the opportunity to choreograph many new, contemporary musical theatre pieces from upcoming Broadway composers Ryan Scott Oliver and Shaina Taub. Once he graduated, he began choreographing regionally with pieces such as the Denver Premier of Spring Awakening and the Midwest Premier of the recent Broadway hit, Lysistrata Jones. Since then, he has been fortunate enough to work as an adjunct tap instructor at Roosevelt University along with performing, directing and choreographing for companies across town. His most recent include: Mary Poppins (Performer – Mercury Theatre), Honky Tonk Angels (Choreographer – Theo Ubique), Xanadu (Performer – American Theatre Co.), 35MM (Director/Choreographer – Circle Theatre),  The Boy From Oz (Jeff nomination, Best Choreography – Pride Film & Plays) and The Wild Party (Assistant Choreographer – Bailiwick Chicago).