Fine Arts Stageworks has found new digs on Harlem Avenue in the Palos Heights business district, and while the school is increasing its physical space, it also will be expanding its presence and role in town.
Brooke Kosowski opened Stageworks nearly four years ago after seeing a need for not only professional training in the area, but also a place for people to let their creative juices flow.
“Legitimate training for acting and theater was happening real far away,” Kosowski said. “My goal was to bring some experience to the area.”
Kosowski was active in theater and music as a child and continued to follow what felt like her calling and passion.
“Ultimately what sparked me to do it was a creative center that did everything. I really gravitate to that and I wanted to share the power of creative thinking,” she said.
The original Stageworks location was behind Jewel-Osco at Harlem and 127th Street, and although the move was mostly because of size issues, Kosowski said that “I had no idea this place was here” was a common greeting from first-time guests.
A hidden location and one of the largest recessions in history doesn't sound like the game plan for a successful business, but things have gone well for Kosowski and Stageworks.
“I don't think anyone would have suggested I open a performing center in a recession, but sometimes you just can't fight what you want to happen, and no matter how it played it out, I wouldn't have regretted it,” she said. “That we have been so successful I think is a testament to the quality of the services we provide here.”
Stageworks offers programs for kids, teens and adults in music, performance art, voice, dance and numerous types of theatrical training.
The theater groups—F.A.S.W. Company Theater and F.A.S.W. JR Company—put on plays that are open to the public and feature productions aimed at both adults and children.
Blak Box Jam, a new addition to Stageworks, is led by experienced actress Sarina Ranftl, a former schoolmate of Kosowski. Black Box Jam is free of charge to teens ages 13 to 18. Ranftl said it is aimed at scene and character development, as well as helping kids prepare for auditions in high school theater.
Stageworks has had clients move on to larger productions and to the professional circuit with Second City, Lyric Opera, Disney and many more.
In addition to theater, the school also offers music lessons in piano, guitar, violin and bass.
Last week, Lucero Mallo attended a guitar lesson while her mother, Mary, waited for her to finish up.
“I think Stageworks is not only a great place to receive an education in theater and music, but they also build confidence and kindness in the students who come here,” Mary Mallo said. “I have been very impressed.”
Kosowski said the school also does outreach at different schools and park districts and has helped implement other institutions’ programs, which Kosowski said is an “honor.”
She said for anyone interested in music or arts, Stageworks is great place to explore a passion for fine arts and theater, and new members are always welcome to stop by. Most classes offer year-round open enrollment.
“For people who aren't familiar with us, don't be afraid to just walk in the door and check us out,” Kosowski said. “We will thoughtfully explain our programs. We're always excited to have new people.”
Stageworks is now open at its new location at 12228 S. Harlem Avenue and can be reached at (708) 361-6160.