Northbrook Theatre & Performing Arts
Northbrook Park District, Producing Organization
Location: 3323 Walters Avenue
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The Northbrook Theatre Department of Performing Arts is a program of the Northbrook Park District’s Division of Leisure Services, created to allow patrons the opportunity to enjoy and participate in quality, local theatrical productions.
The intimate 268-seat Northbrook Theatre is an ideal setting in which to share live theatre with children. Located in the Northbrook Leisure Center, the Theatre showcases family-style productions by children and by professional adult actors.
For over 30 years, the award-winning Northbrook Theatre Children's Company has presented theatre by youth for youth, with actors in grades 6-10. Also at home on the stage is the Northbrook Musical Theatre for Young Audiences, an adult company of professional Equity actors, performing regular Saturday shows and weekday presentations booked by schools. The presentations for school groups can include curtain talks, study guides and backstage tours. Group discounts and birthday party packages also are available.
Welcome to the Northbrook Theatre
For the past 30 years, the Northbrook Theatre has been working to give theatergoers the opportunity to enjoy and participate in quality, local productions.
Some news: The Northbrook Theatre continues to be the North Shore’s ONLY professional theatre dedicated to shows suitable for child and family audiences. Our agreement with the Actors’ Equity Association allows us to employ professional performers, and the result has been an incredible rise in the artistic level of our shows.
Our Drama classes throughout the school year and our Summer Drama Workshops continue to train young students of the theatre in the skills that make them “stageworthy.” These educational activities also promote communication, dedication and teamwork skills – traits that can be used no matter what field is chosen. And, don’t forget reading skills. Being in drama classes and workshops definitely helps improve this necessary skill.
Bright Star Theatre, offered through the North Suburban Special Recreation District (NSSRA), gives children with special needs and their “Creative Companions” the opportunity to participate in a theatrical production with a professional team of Directors, Choreographers and Musical Directors.
The Northbrook School of Dance continues to offer exciting classes in various dance disciplines. Check out our new and progressive offerings that include tap, ballet, contemporary and adult dance. You'll love the choices and our experienced staff of talented and caring instructors.
If music is your passion, we offer private lessons in voice and piano, taught by experienced instructors. In addition, our Northbrook Community Choir provides singers with a group choral experience. The choir performs locally and nationally, having appeared at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Join us in our quest to bring the best of the Performing Arts to the North Shore. Whether you participate as an actor, student or audience member, you’ll come away satisfied and entertained.
Northbrook Theatre: A Historical Overview
The Northbrook Theatre was founded in February of 1980 by Gregory C. Dennhardt, Ph.D. The Theatre operates under the auspices of the Northbrook Park District, which acts as its producing organization, and of which it is a part. This union offers a unique blend of private theatrical enterprise with local government and has set the standard for similar programs throughout Illinois. After studying the Northbrook model, many other Park Districts have begun offering similar performing arts programs.
At first, the Northbrook Theatre consisted of only a children’s troupe, which then, and now, presents “theatre by . . . youth for youth”. It is a company of young actors in grades 6-10 who are guided in the production of plays and musicals by a professional staff of degree-holding artists. The Children’s Company typically produces two age-appropriate shows during the school year. These productions are fully mounted with scenery, costumes, lighting, props and special effects. The troupe employs multiple-casting of all roles to ensure maximum participation. Typical productions include traditional fairy tales, musicals and modern “problem plays” that relate to growing up in America. At times, the company even produces new and original scripts.
In 1984, District voters approved a referendum that authorized the construction of a theatre to serve as a home for the growing performing arts programs. This facility is a 268-seat playhouse with computerized lighting and sound control consoles, as well as a theatrical “fly” system for scenery. An addition completed in 1986 produced an adjoining scene shop, dressing rooms, rehearsal studio and storage. The theatre and its equipment have an estimated value of more than $3 million.
In 1996, the Park District added a professional Musical Theatre for Young Audiences, dedicated to the production of high-quality family-style theatre. This TYA Equity troupe consists of 10 actors, engaged for each season, who are paid both a rehearsal and a performance stipend. This company presents three shows each year, and the actors often work for the Children’s Company and Kidstage productions. Since its inception, Northbrook Musical Theatre for Young Audiences has employed more than 150 professional actors and technicians, presenting 17 separate productions to audiences totaling over 60,000.
Alongside the Northbrook Theatre’s production wing is an educational outreach program that trains both children and adults in the performing arts. During the school year, instructors provide group and private lessons in music, dance and drama to students throughout the north and northwest suburbs. In the summer, a series of Drama Workshops function as day camps in the arts. Open to children in grades 1-10, grouped by age levels, these workshops include daily instruction in music, dance and drama. Each workshop culminates in the public presentation of an age-appropriate musical presentation. Enrollment in these classes and workshops exceeds 1,000 each year, and more than 14,000 participants have registered since 1980.
The Northbrook Community Choir (formerly know as the Y’All Come Choir,) sings throughout the North Shore and has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The group accepts teens through adults; only a love of singing is required. As the name suggests, everyone is welcome to join. There are no auditions.
Additionally, the Northbrook Park District offers a series of seven free concerts in the park known as Park Fest. These outdoor programs typically attract audiences of over 5,000 each summer and receive technical support from the Northbrook Theatre staff.
The Northbrook Theatre is located at 3323 Walters Avenue between Sanders and Landwehr Roads.
To get to the venue:
From the south, get on northbound I-294 (the Tri-State Tollway) or northbound I-94 (the Edens Expressway). From the north, get on southbound I-294 or southbound I-94.
If you are on I-294 northbound, exit at Willow Road and turn right from the ramp. Go to Landwehr, which is the first stoplight. Turn left onto Landwehr and travel approximately three miles to Walters, which is the second light. Turn left on Walters, and the Leisure Center will be on the left in about one city block. Turn left into the driveway and proceed to the rear of the building. You will see the theatre portion of the Leisure Center. The lobby entrance is on the west side of the building; the loading dock is on the south side of the building; and the stage door is on the east side.
If you are on I-294 southbound, exit at Lake Cook Road and turn right from the ramp. Go to Sanders Road and turn left. Proceed approximately two miles to Walters Avenue. Turn left onto Walters and go one mile to the Leisure Center. Turn right into the Leisure Center driveway and proceed as above.
If you are northbound on I-94, exit at Dundee Road, westbound. Take Dundee Road approximately five miles to Landwehr Road. Turn left onto Landwehr and proceed one mile to Walters Avenue. Turn right onto Walters, and the Leisure Center will be about one city block further. Follow the same directions as above once you turn into the driveway.
Note: If you are southbound on I-94 from the Milwaukee area, do not stay on 94 at the 294-94 split. Proceed south on 294 and follow the directions for southbound 294 above.
Theatrical & Performing Arts Employment Opportunities
The Northbrook Theatre has continuous employment opportunities throughout the year (click here to view our Employment page. In addition to general openings for administrative, artistic, teaching and technical positions, specific vacancies are listed below. If you are interested in joining our staff, send a cover letter and resume to:
3323 Walters Avenue
Northbrook, Illinois 60062
The Northbrook Theatre is always interested in individuals to teach our educational OutReach classes. Positions include instructors in music, dance and drama. We also will consider proposals for new classes. Applicants must possess a college degree in their respective field to be considered for employment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are your office hours?
The Performing Arts Office is open from 10am-4pm, Monday through Friday.
Where is the Theatre located?
The Theatre is inside the Northbrook Leisure Center at 3323 Walters Avenue― between Sanders Road and Landwehr Road.
How can tickets be purchased and how much do they cost?
Tickets can be purchased over the phone, in the office, or online any day leading up to the day of the performance, when they can be purchased at the box office. Tickets are $12. ($10 on Fridays at the Box Office)
How do I contact Kidstage?
Kidstage is a full-time renter of the Theatre. The production company can be reached at 847·814·2464.
Northbrook Children’s Company (NTCC)
What is the audition process?
Children are asked to sing, dance and read from the script during their audition. The singing portion consists of a one-on-one audition with the music director/pianist. Children prepare a song and provide their own sheet music, in the proper key. During the dance audition, the children are divided into groups and taught a short dance by the choreographer. In the final part of the audition, children are placed with one-to-three other children and given a section of the script. After being given time to rehearse, the children perform the scene for the directors. Later in the week, children who are selected receive a phone call, informing them of their cast and part assignments. NTCC employs multiple casting of all roles to ensure the highest, possible participation.
Where can I get sheet music?
Sheet music is available and can be copied at the Northbrook Library.
What are my chances of being cast?
Roles are assigned on the basis of the audition. However, you increase your chances by listing as many casts as possible that you can be in; preparing yourself for the audition by selecting and practicing an appropriate song; taking music, dance, and/or drama classes; and by being available during the rehearsal period.
What is the time commitment if I am cast in a production?
Each cast rehearses from 4-6pm one day during the week and from 2-6:30pm each Sunday. It’s possible that you won’t need to attend the full four-and-a-half hours on Sunday, depending on what’s being rehearsed on a given day. You also commit to work on memorizing lines, songs, dances, and blocking on your own time.
Northbrook Musical Theatre for Young Audiences (NTYA)
When are the performances?
Our professional theatre's performances are every Saturday at 10am and 1pm during the weeks of the production.
How long is the performance?
NTYA shows have a running time of about one hour, with no intermission.
Can my children meet the actors?
After the performance, the actors come into the lobby for a “Meet and Greet” with audience members.
Is there a group discount?
Yes, there is a discount for a group over 20. Contact the Performing Arts Office at 847·291·2995 for details.
How are bus grants distributed?
Bus grants are distributed on a needs basis, taking into account the financial and educational impact that attending one of our shows will have on your school or group. Groups can fill out an application and submit it to the Performing Arts Office for approval.
What days and times can my school come?
School bookings are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with performances beginning at 10:30am. Groups are asked to arrive no earlier than 10:15am.
What ages can attend the show?
Most performances are appropriate for preschool aged children and up; however good children's theatre can be enjoyed by children of all ages as well as the young and young at heart! If concerned, call for specific show age-appropriateness.
How long is the performance?
The show is about one hour long, with no intermission. After the performance, children can ask the actors and director questions during the “Curtain Talk.” A backstage tour also is available, with advance notice.
What kind of party packages are available?
The Northbrook Theatre offers a variety of party packages. We also rent rooms for parties that you arrange. Click here or call 847·291·2995 for more information.
What exactly are the Workshops?
For 30 years, the Northbrook Theatre has run popular Summer Drama Workshops, which are divided into three groups, based on age. Children in grades 1 and 2 can attend Kidz on Broadway. Rising Stars (formerly Creative Drama) is designed for children in grades 3-5. And children entering grades 6-10 can experience Theatre Arts. Each offers an age-appropriate, four-week course of study in the Performing Arts ending in a final, fully-mounted public presentation..
Do the kids get any outdoor time?
Yes. Activities are held outdoors to take advantage of the summer weather.
What do the kids do at the Workshops?
They sing, dance and act. They make friends. They participate in an artistic act of creation. They overcome shyness and discover the ability to express themselves. They overcome the fear of communicating in front of large groups of people. They discover their inner selves. They learn and have fun.
What about attendance?
Daily attendance at the workshops is mandatory. Our young actors need to be present to interact with staff and their fellow cast members in order to bring their show to life.
Does everyone perform onstage?
Yes. Participants must be able to perform to be in the workshops. Shows are the last week of each session, and everyone sings, dances and acts in the shows, as well.
Northbrook School of Dance
What is the School of Dance?
This is a curriculum-based approach to dance training. Students move through a structured progression with caring, professional dance instructors. (Click here to see the Northbrook School of Dance page.)
What should students wear to class?
Each class has different requirements. Click here to see the Northbrook School of Dance page.
What should I wear to class?
Students should wear loose clothing to allow for creative expression and clothes that can get dirty. Avoid tight-fitting clothes and sandals or clogs.
Private Music Lessons
Do I have to have a piano at home?
A piano is not necessary but is helpful to vocalists and keyboard students.