Nurturing the Next Generation of Artists and Audiences

Porchlight’s education and outreach programs offer an educational and personal growth environment where students, professionals and fans from across Chicago can create, practice, perform and appreciate the unique music theatre art form. Students are led and inspired by some of Chicago’s finest performers and teaching artists, and are given an opportunity to expand their personal and professional skill set through a variety of classes that welcome both novices and veterans.

Financial aid available for all youth programs.

Unless otherwise specified, all Adult, Summer Camps and Youth Intensive 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 Intensives & Camps


Winter Music Theatre Revue Intensive

Saturdays from January 18 through February 22  •  9:30am-12:30pm

Duration: 6 weeks  •  Ages: 7-13  •  All Levels of Experience/Skill •  Locations: 4200 W. Diversey/1016 N. Dearborn

Instructor: Michelle Lauto

Cost: $250

Warm up this winter with six Saturdays filled with singing, dancing, fun and learning at Porchlight’s West Logan Square studios—culminating with a performance for family and friends on the Porchlight mainstage at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts at 1016 N. Dearborn! With top-of-the-line training from professional Chicago actors working at some of the area’s biggest theatres (including Porchlight!), each session is a high-energy immersion in singing, acting and choreography for all skill levels, experienced through assembling a revue featuring various styles of music theatre. On the final day at Ruth Page, the group will “tech” and perform the revue they’ve created, and also be treated to an exclusive tour of the theatre’s backstage and front-of-house operations by Artistic Director Michael Weber. Meet new friends and learn new skills in this INTENSELY FUN music theatre experience!

Learn More!


Freaky Friday: One Act Edition

Saturdays & Sundays from April 4 through May 17  •  9:30am-12:00pm

AUDITIONS: Saturday, March 7 (NOTE: All participants will be cast!; auditions are for assigning roles)

Duration: 8 weeks  •  Ages: 8-17  •  All Levels of Experience/Skill •  Locations: 4200 W. Diversey/1016 N. Dearborn

Cost: $750

While the Chicago premiere of Disney’s new musical Freaky Friday plays on Porchlight’s award-winning mainstage this spring, kids ages 8–17 will have the opportunity to be a part of a companion experience, Freaky Friday: One Act Edition, learning not only from our amazing teaching instructors, but from their adult counterparts in the professional production! Rehearsing on weekends* at Porchlight’s West Logan Square studios, this slightly shorter version of the show will culminate in two performances on the mainstage set of Freaky Friday at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts at 1016 N. Dearborn. Participants will also enjoy seeing a performance of the Porchlight’s mainstage Freaky Friday and spending one-on-one time with the professional actors playing their parts who will even give them a full tour of the backstage operations . This is a one-of-a-kind experience for children of all skill and interest levels!

*Additional tech rehearsals required. Select days off. 

Learn More!


“Make Your Own Musical” & “Teen Musical Intensive” Summer Camps

Mondays through Fridays  •  9:00am-3:00pm

Instructors: Michelle Lauto & Yando Lopez

Cost: $650 per session

Make Your Own Musical Camps

Calling all imaginations! This creative and fun camp held at Porchlight’s West Logan Square studios is perfect for both the budding Broadway star and those who want to build confidence and “soft skills” through writing and performance. Enter the world of music, drama, dance, writing, and more while practicing teamwork, communication and problem-solving. Campers will challenge themselves, and, of course, have tons of fun as they create a brand-new musical and perform it on the Porchlight stage at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts at 1016 N. Dearborn!

Session 1:  June 29 through July 10

Session 2:  July 13 through 24

Duration: 2 weeks  •  Ages: 7-13  •  All Levels of Experience/Skill •  Locations: 4200 W. Diversey/1016 N. Dearborn

NEW THIS YEAR!  Teen Musical Intensive

This two-week intensive offers immersive training for the more serious young performer in everything from Audition Prep to Song Performance to How to Nail A Dance Combo. Held at Porchlight’s West Logan Square studios, the sessions are led by professional music theatre artists Michelle Lauto and Yando Lopez, who you can find working on many of Chicago’s top stages. Campers will receive invaluable industry insights and advice as they work together to create a themed musical revue to perform for friends and family on the mainstage at the Gold Coast’s Ruth Page Center for the Arts.

Session 1:  July 27 through August 7

Duration: 2 weeks  •  Ages: 13-17  •  Some Experience  •  Locations: 4200 W. Diversey/1016 N. Dearborn

Learn More!


Learn From The Pros!

Porchlight works with the best teaching artists in the city, all of whom work regularly at Chicagoland’s biggest theatres, including Porchlight. They have the skills and knowledge to help every child improve their personal and performance skills. We make sure to hire teaching artists who love children and are committed to giving every child the individualized attention they need to thrive. Your little one or tween is guaranteed to love working with our talented and welcoming staff.


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 25 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 jeannie@porchlightmusictheatre.org.


In-School / After-School

Porchlight’s work with Chicago Public Schools, private schools and community organizations brings the gift of music theatre to students around Chicago. From focused training to helping groups put on a full-length musical, Porchlight’s experience of producing Chicago’s best musicals for 25 years—paired with our amazing teaching artists and production support team—brings organizations quality, customized and hassle-free programming.

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, and more).

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

Professional & Appreciation Classes for Adults

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

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
$27.00/ticket

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

Book a Student Group!

Michelle Lauto

Classes Taught: Youth Programs

Michelle serves as Lead Teacher for all of Porchlight’s Youth Intensives and Summer Camps. She is an award-winning actor and teaching artist based in Chicago. She appeared recently as Betty Schaefer in Sunset Boulevard at Porchlight Music Theatre, Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime, Mayzie in Suessical the Musical, and as Ado Annie in Oklahoma! all at the Marriott Theatre. Michelle was a 2017 Jeff Award recipient for her work in the original Chicago cast of Spamilton: An American Parody (Forbidden Broadway, Royal George Theater). Other credits Include: Maya in Bread and Roses (Amas Musical Theatre, NYC), Sheila in Hair (Mercury Theater) and Vanessa in In The Heights (Porchlight Music Theatre). Michelle is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA and graduate of The Second City Conservatory. She has taught at Emerald City Theatre in Chicago as well as The Broadway Workshop in NYC. She loves bringing the magic of theatre to the next generation and can’t wait to watch students grow throughout this process! Check her out online at www.michellelauto.com.


Yando Lopez

Classes Taught: Youth Programs

Yando is an actor and educator based in Chicago. He was seen recently as Eddie in Mamma Mia at Drury Lane and in Legally Blonde at Paramount. Jeff-nominated roles of Jinx in Forever Plaid at Theatre at the Center and Lin-Manuel Miranda in Spamilton: An American Parody with Forbidden Broadway at the Royal George. He also appeared in The Christians at Steppenwolf. At Porchlight, Yando appeared in In The Heights, Sondheim on Sondheim, and the Porchlight Revisits series with Bells are Ringing and They’re Playing Our Song. He is a proud member of AEA and a Northwestern graduate with degrees in Theatre and Statistics. Yando has worked with many after school programs and is also involved in tutoring and test prep. He loves music and theatre and is excited about getting to share, create, and grow with these amazing Porchlight students.


Tammy Mader

Classes Taught: Professional Programs (4 Legged Tap)

Tammy is a veteran of Chicagoland musical theatre and has won multiple Jeff Awards for her choreography. She is the director of Porchlight’s spring Chicago premiere of Disney’s Freaky Friday, and teaches master classes and workshops at the college level. She was on staff at Columbia College and 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.


Matt Crowle

Classes Taught: Professional Programs (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 www.mattcrowle.com


Annie Jo Fischer

Classes Taught: Professional Programs (Beginning and Intermediate Tap Technique and Advanced/Pro Tap)

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.