ROCKFORD (WREX) — When was the last time you sat inside a theater to watch a play? It was November of 2019 for The Studio in Rockford. Now, performers and volunteers couldn't be more excited to bring musicals back to the Stateline.
Adam and Courtney Walsh created their small business because they're self-proclaimed theater nerds who wanted to share their passions with Stateline kids. They combined their love for the arts and their love for kids to create The Studio.
Adam says it's a rush to be on stage but working behind the scenes has its own grand rewards.
"When me made that switch to be more directing, that was so cool. To put a kid who is super shy at the very beginning and then see them grow into a lead, or see them grow into someone that shines on stage, there is nothing like that," said The Studio Co-owner Adam Walsh.
"The Studio is just a very friendly place. You don't feel like, 'oh I have to do this to fit in.' You just fit in," said performer Brendan McGonigal.
It's not just a performing arts studio and youth theater in Rockford but an experience where anyone can get inspired through music, production and friendship.
"When we started The Studio we wanted it to be this hub of creativity. We wanted it to be a place where you can come do a show but you can also come learn dance; you can come learn photography if you wanted to. We have craft club, we have summer camps. We have all kinds of stuff," said Adam.
Learning something is something Adam hopes kids do without even realizing it.
"During the song, I have to juggle three lemons on stage and before this show I did not know how to juggle," said McGonigal when looking back at the skills he has gained during his six years with The Studio. "It's just a fun way to express yourself singing and dancing. You see your friends at rehearsal but it's also like, 'oh we're doing this for the community.' It's a way to kind of give back."
Before purchasing a brick and mortar in 2014, The Studio first started with private music lessons in the Walsh's basement. The Studio has grown into a community of its own with more than 100 volunteers who either pull the strings or break a leg.
"That's really what gets us jazzed. It takes a village to put on one of these shows and to see everybody come together for a common goal and then to see that goal on stage and have people clap for it is super cool," said Adam.
Life experiences that deserve a standing ovation.
Junie B. Jones Jr. The Musical is playing at Rockford University inside Maddox Theater June 25-27. You can still purchase tickets for the shows online or at the door.