Naperville, IL

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Same Programming, New Name! Academy of the Arts is now Illinois Conservatory for the Arts

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Velvet Social: For The Dreamers

with the Touring Cast of Back to the Future

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IMPACT: Musical Theatre

Session 2: August 5-9

Children of Eden in Chicago – a Heavenly Experience

As little boys Rogan Jackson and Joshua Sanchez sat in the audience dreaming that one day they’d be on stage themselves. Proving that sometimes those dreams come true quicker than you could ever hope, last month they found themselves part of a 150 strong ensemble performing concert performances of Stephen Schwartz’s Children of Eden at the Cadillac Palace Theater, Chicago.

The show is a 1991 two-act musical based on the Book of Genesis. Although it never gave Schwartz the accolades he received from his more popular works (Godspell, Pippin and Wicked), it is still regularly produced in regional theaters across the country.

Schwartz attended rehearsals and even gave notes to Rogan, a student at Still Middle School, Naperville.

“He was super nice,” said Rogan, who played Young Abel. “Being picked to be in the show was a little intimidating at first but everyone was nice and supportive. After a day I felt really comfortable. I could see the audience a little bit during the performance. I could see their heads and could feel they were enjoying it. The sound of the applause was amazing.”

Both boys were required to sing solos, speak a few lines and dance, as well as appearing with the ensemble. The show starred former Destiny’s Child singer, Michelle Williams.

“I’ve wanted to be an actor for many years,” said 12-year-old Rogan. “I’ve been swimming since I was three but stopped last year because I wanted to focus more on my acting and I really feel it’s coming together. The Academy is great, I’ve had some absolutely amazing experiences. I feel so lucky.”

Joshua, 13, a student at Kennedy Junior High, Naperville said initially he was shocked because he hadn’t realized the two-performance production would be part of Broadway in Chicago. He not only played the part of Young Seth but was also a standby for Young Cain and Young Abel.

“I was a little nervous but we rehearsed a lot, so I felt prepared,” Joshua said. “During rehearsals we could see into the auditorium and it was really amazing.

“I learned that I’d never been a swing before; I don’t normally have to practice different parts so this was different. It was a great learning experience. It was like a dream come true and I would definitely like to do this again. It was just amazing.”

Rogan’s mom Tracey said seeing her son become so passionate about musical theater has been a wonderful journey.

“We are so proud to see his efforts come to life on stage.  But more important than any performance is that he has found a path he wants to pursue that makes him happy and fulfilled,” she said.

Christina Sanchez says the classes Joshua has taken with the Academy have helped build his confidence, along with giving him the right tools to succeed.

“I’m at a loss for words after seeing the stellar performance Joshua was in at the Cadillac Palace Theater,” she said. “Watching him do what he was born to do is truly remarkable. His passion is truly seen and felt when he is performing. You can see and feel his raw emotions in everything that he says or does.”

session 1 • june 10–14, 2024

session 2 • August 5–9, 2024

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James T. Lane / Dance

West End: The Scottsboro Boys, A Chorus Line – Revival (Palladium Theatre). Broadway: Chicago (Billy Flynn and Amos Hart) Kiss Me, Kate (Paul), King Kong the Musical ,The Scottsboro Boys (Ozie Powell/Ruby Bates), Chicago and A Chorus Line (Richie Walters). Tours: Jersey Boys, Cinderella, Fame the Musical. Regional Theatre: Guys and Dolls ( Nicely Nicely) Virginia Stage Company, Mary Poppins (Bert) Aint’t Misbehavin ,Drury Lane Theatre, The Wiz (Tin Man), Broadway at Music Circus,The Old Globe, The Little Mermaid (Sebastian) The Muny, A.C.T and Dallas Theatre Center. Encores/Off Center:Promenade,Grand Hotel, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope Concerts: Carnegie Hall with The New York Pops, Ottawa Symphony and many more. James is the creator of and the 2023 Audelco Award winner for Best Solo Performance for “Triple Threat” that played Off Broadway to great acclaim at Theatre Row in New York City. Mr. Lane teaches music theatre dance when and wherever anyone will let him! Instagram: @jamestlane

Syndee Winters / Voice

Syndee Winters (@syndeewinters) is an American singer, recording artist, and actress. Best known for her role as “Nala.” Syndee’s other credits include lead roles in Motown the Musical, Pippin, Jesus Christ Superstar on NBC, and Hamilton. In 2020, Syndee founded R.O.A.R., a professional development program helping artists hoan their skills, transform their stage presence and navigate the industry. Inspired by the art of storytelling, Syndee’s tours the world with two magical productions. Disney Princess: The Concert and Lessons From A Lady: A Dedication to Lena Horne. Syndee is also an award- winning recording artist and her latest project with GRAMMY® winning producer Ben Williams entitled, “Butterfly Black” is available everywhere now.

Caitlin Kinnunen / Acting

Caitlin Kinnunen Is a Tony nominated actress for her work in THE PROM on Broadway, having originated the role of Emma Nolan. Most recently you can hear her as Juniper on the podcast The Callisto Protocol: Helix Station starring Gwendolyn Christie. Caitlin was nominated for an Audie Award for narrating the audiobook MaryJane, and was handpicked by Judy Blume to narrate her book Forever. Film/TV credits include The Intern, Sweet Little Lies, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, We Need to Talk About Kevin, “Our Ladies” (pilot for The CW), “Suck Hole” (pilot for FX), “Younger”, “American Vandal”, “The Knick”, and “Law & Order: SVU”.

Peter Van Dam / Casting

Peter is the recipient of four Artios Awards for excellence in casting. He joined Tara Rubin Casting in 2018 as a Casting Director, and previously was an associate at Jim Carnahan Casting / Roundabout Theatre Company.

Broadway: The Heart of Rock & Roll, Six, The Phantom of the Opera, Tootsie, Head Over Heels, Angels in America, Farinelli and the King, The Cherry Orchard. National Tours: Six, The Band’s Visit. Off-Broadway/New York: Dead Outlaw (Audible Theater – World Premiere), Pal Joey (New York City Center), Whisper House (The Civilians), Sing Street (New York Theatre Workshop), Something Clean (Roundabout), The Beast in the Jungle (Vineyard). Regional: Summer Stock (Goodspeed – World Premiere), Sing Street, (The Huntington), 42nd Street (Goodspeed), Kismet (Granada Theatre/Santa Barbara Symphony), Chasing Rainbows (Paper Mill Playhouse), Chess (The Kennedy Center), Wonderful Town (LA Opera). Canada: Beaches, Six, The Louder We Get. West End: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Nice Fish. Benefits: I’m Still Here (New York Public Library for the Performing Arts), Julie Halston’s Broadway Belts for PFF, Thoroughly Modern Millie (The Actors Fund).


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