[Crystal Lake, IL] – March 29, 2022 – On March 22nd, Raue Center School For The Arts students took the stage at Raue Center to perform their first showcase as members of the newly formed Youth Musical Theatre Ensemble (YMTE)!

A small but mighty team, the six YMTE students performed selected songs from beloved stage musicals such as Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Shrek, The Secret Garden, Next To Normal, and Mean Girls, with each student featured several times throughout the showcase. Additional lights and sound were provided by Jarrod Bainter, Technical Director, and supported by staff members Jessica Urban and Billy Seger to help elevate the aesthetic of the performance.

“The beauty of this class is that every session will be different, with material that gives everyone a moment in the spotlight while learning how to be a good ensemble member as well,” says class instructor Alayna DeVar, Education Coordinator/Lead Instructor for Raue Center. “The performance was highly regarded and the kids quite literally wouldn’t leave the theatre. We will be running this class again and I look forward to seeing how this class grows and evolves over time.”

The Youth Musical Theatre Ensemble, geared toward students aged 14-18, focuses on vocal technique that expands beyond solo singing into small and large group ensembles. Students enrolled in the class can look forward to musical theatre songs they’ve always wanted to sing, but have not had the back up vocals to bring them fully to life . The collaborative atmosphere, paired with DeVar’s rich background in vocal instruction and pedagogy, makes for the ultimate experience in group singing.

Risk. Explore. Create. Raue Center School For The Arts looks forward to bringing this class back in the Fall of 2022. Until then, be sure to check out or visit for updates on more exciting opportunities, including a brand new Summer Camp experience aptly called “Camp RCSA.” Those looking to enroll students in RCSA programs should be reminded that the institution’s RaueNOW Family Membership offers a 25% discount on enrollment fees for all RCSA classes and workshops as well as an additional 30% discount on select Raue Center programming throughout the year. Scholarship opportunities are also available by contacting

Raue Center currently requires masks for all patrons 2+. For more information, visit For questions or concerns, please contact our Box Office at 815-356-9212.

About Raue Center For The Arts

Raue Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of all through the arts. For 20 years, they have provided quality programming – striving to make it pertinent, available, and affordable to all. As a painstakingly restored, 1920s regional showcase theatre named for its benefactor—Lucile Raue—Raue Center has attracted the finest stars, Broadway shows, musicians and artists. Named on the League of Historic American Theatres, Raue Center is one of the finest examples of restored art and decor in the nation. The 750-seat theatre, located in historic downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois, is a gathering place for our region’s citizens and has become a true destination. 

More information and tickets are available by visiting or by calling the box office at (815) 356-9212. For additional information, visit,, and


Teaching is an Art

Amanda Flahive takes a traditional selfie with students after a showcase performance on Raue Center’s stage. 

Teaching artist Amanda Flahive shares why performing arts education is so important to her.

As a kid growing up in rural Kankakee County, IL, I always knew I loved performing…but didn’t have quite the right place to do that.  I sang “The Sound of Music” into my Fisher-Price tape deck for an audience of stuffed animals, I danced through the living room and entertained everyone who would listen with dramatic interpretations of my favorite Little Golden Books—so it was pretty clear early on that I was headed for the stage!

In spite of my performing ambitions, my small community didn’t offer much in the realm of arts opportunities—it was during my time at college studying for my career as a performer that I discovered my love of sharing the magic of theatre with kids like me.  I love teaching all ages of kids about the joy of theatre and how it can make a difference in their lives, or even become their career.  While I am fortunate enough to call myself a working actor, I often say that teaching is the other half of my “theatre soul.”  As much as I love getting on stage in front of an audience, belting a big number, and digging deep into a role, I also love teaching young performers how to harness that same energy that gets them singing into their hairbrushes in their bedroom mirrors and turn it into a compelling onstage moment. 

As we’ve built the RCSA program, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness many of our students grow from their first class as “dramatic personalities” into confident, vibrant young artists…some of whom have already started incredible professional careers.  While not everyone ends up on a Broadway stage, it’s what we learn along the way that shapes us as human beings—and it is such a gift to meet these kids as they discover their path. Teaching them is my honor and privilege—and I look forward to being part of their journey, wherever it takes them!

Amanda Flahive is an actor and instructor with Raue Center School For The Arts. She will be teaching RCSA’s High School Musical Theatre Workshop June 6 – 17, 2022. For more information about this and Raue Center’s other education workshops and summer camps visit


[Crystal Lake, IL] – February 23, 2022 – Raue Center School For The Arts is excited to announce a brand new summer camp series—aptly named Camp RCSA—for young performers looking to further (or even begin) their arts education in live performance.

“So proud of the team! The pandemic decimated our educational efforts—down from 25,000 students to 3,000 students during the pandemic. We look to bounce back with core standards of safety, inclusion, and a rigorous, intellectually challenging curriculum. We’ll have a lot of different programs this summer and the camps are a great entry for any student. Camp RCSA grows from our core belief of wanting to help families form young people who are well prepared for careers and who will be assets to their communities,” says Raue Center’s Executive Director, Richard Kuranda.

This exciting new summer program will focus on all aspects of live theatre (acting, movement, dance, and vocal technique), fostering students’ creativity and talent, and helping them develop as young performers. The counselors and staff hired by RCSA are professional Chicagoland actors and technicians. Students will learn performance fundamentals in the classroom then put those skills into practice for an audience with a wrap-up performance on Raue’s outdoor Arts On The Green space, located at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Crystal Lake. To further the educational element of the program, Camp RCSA has adopted the “Page to Stage” theme for the summer, granting students the opportunity to perform songs and scenes inspired by musicals based on famous works of literature!

Camp RCSA will run four one-week camps throughout the summer: June 6-June 10; June 13-June 17; July 18-July 22; and July 25-29. These camps run 9am-3pm, Monday through Friday, and are recommended for Grades 2 through 8 (rising). All experience levels are welcome!

The summer fun doesn’t stop there! RCSA is also proud to announce an extension of their popular “Little Stage Stars” program with Camp RCSA Jr.—a half-day camp for Grades K-1 from 9am-12pm! The youngest RCSA stars will spend a half-day playing games, learning songs and dances, and experiencing theatre in a fun, summer camp environment. This camp runs for one week: July 11-July 15.

High school students can look forward to the return of High School Musical Theatre Workshop—a two-week intensive musical theatre program for students ages 15-18 (rising freshman through graduated seniors). Led by RCSA favorite Amanda Flahive, a professional actor and teaching artist who’s appeared in over 25 shows as an original ensemble member of Williams Street Repertory. This advanced, RCSA signature class, allows students to explore all aspects of classic and modern musical theatre, with a focus on the three core performance disciplines unique to the genre—acting, singing, and dance.

Risk. Explore. Create. Enrollment for these classes opened on February 22nd for RaueNOW Family Members and opens to the general public on February 25th. Visit for more information on enrollment and financial aid. For specific questions regarding enrollment, email

Raue Center currently requires masks for all patrons 2+. For more information, visit For questions or concerns, please contact our Box Office at 815-356-9212.


On their 20th Anniversary, Raue Center looks to the next 20 years and beyond to create a welcoming place where students of all ages can let their creativity soar! Youth and adult classes! Private, semi-private, and group workshops! Masterclasses with industry professionals! Raue Center School For The Arts (RCSA) is poised to be your “one-stop-shop” in arts education!

Modeled as a conservatory program, Raue Cenyer School For The Arts encourages students to build a curriculum that plays to their specific strengths and interests within the ever-changing landscape of theatrical and instrumental arts. Meet the amazing roster of instructors lined up for the inaugural semester.

Meet Aldren Briones, Instructor for Raue Center School for the Arts in a number of disciplines! Aldren is a vital member of the Piano Trends staff and a talented musician in a variety of instruments. He studied Vocal Performance at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Aldren has worked as a children’s music director with Children’s Theatre of Elgin, Arts Center of St. Charles, and also works as an accompanist and worship leader for Fil-Am Baptist Church. He is also a frequent guest on “Lifting Spirits Through Music” on Facebook and YouTube. Come “lift your spirits through music” with Aldren as your Instructor through RCSA.

Meet Amy Nelson, our Brass Instructor for Raue Center School for the Arts! Amy graduated with her music degree from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb. Since then, Amy has toured with groups and orchestras both regionally and nationally, including a gig as a member of Adele’s backup orchestra when Adele performed at the United Center in Chicago. She also has a few Broadway tours under her belt, including “Fiddler On the Roof.”

Meet Ashley Beleny, a Piano Instructor for Raue Center School for the Arts!
Ashley has a passion for teaching piano and has been playing since the age of 5. She also grew up singing in professional children’s choirs and started playing the guitar when she went to college (much easier to transport than a piano). She is currently learning to play the cello… a true testament that it’s never too late to learn a new instrument! Ashley plays mostly classical music on piano but has taught a wide range of styles in both one-on-one and group settings for students aged pre-school through adult.
Meet Bruce Waters, our Guitar/Bass/Ukulele Instructor for Raue Center School for the Arts! Bruce is a lifelong resident of the area and a big part of the music scene locally. He has worked with major artists like Ricky Skaggs at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, he is or has been a member of Pirates On 40 and Sweetwater among other bands. Bruce teaches and works with children and adults alike on both acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar, ukulele, and percussion. Learn from one of the best in the biz with Bruce as your Guitar/Bass/Ukulele Instructor through RCSA.
Education Coordinator and instructor Alayna DeVar is now offering Private Voice Instruction through RCSA, in addition to two exciting Musical Theatre Ensembles: Youth MTE & Adult MTE! Alayna holds a degree in Vocal Performance from Millikin University where she studied Vocal Pedagogy and received excellent ensemble training from her time in the internationally recognized University Choir. She has been teaching private lessons since 2013 and began music directing and conducting for musicals in 2014. She worked as Vocal Director for Celebrity Cruise Lines and occasionally visits Nashville for private coaching with industry professionals.
Realize your full vocal potential with Alayna as your Voice Instructor through RCSA.
Meet John Benedeck, one of our Piano Instructors for Raue Center School for the Arts!
John grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago and has been a pianist since he was six. Since then, he has implemented music in everything he does. Whether he is leading a worship team for his church, accompanying the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field, or creating original music for podcasts and short films, John seeks the joy in music without compromise. Experience that same joy in music firsthand with John as your Piano Instructor through RCSA.

RCSA, your “one-stop-shop” in performing arts education! For enrollment information, please contact or visit our website for more details:

About Raue Center For The Arts

Raue Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of all through the arts. For 20 years, they have provided quality programming – striving to make it pertinent, available, and affordable to all. As a painstakingly restored, 1920s regional showcase theatre named for its benefactor—Lucile Raue—Raue Center has attracted the finest stars, Broadway shows, musicians and artists. Named on the League of Historic American Theatres, Raue Center is one of the finest examples of restored art and decor in the nation. The 750-seat theatre, located in historic downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois, is a gathering place for our region’s citizens and has become a true destination. 

For additional information, visit or call the Box Office at 815.356.9212.

Engage Dance Theatre: Building on Trust and Growing with Optimism

Written by Anne Dyson

Having heard from a few Crystal Lake dance families who were excited about the recent studio expansion of Engage Dance Academy, I decided to stop by 5186 Northwest Highway and check-in with co-owners, Courtney Kramer Petrocci and Marc Petrocci. It was sunny outside and even sunnier inside.


When asked to describe the new space, Marc’s enthusiasm was evident.

“It’s a dream come true for us. The new 1400 sq. foot studio space is huge and bright so our dancers can push themselves to greater heights with improved stamina. As professional ballet dancers and teachers, we knew it was paramount that we install a superior quality floor. Our industry-leading Harlequin floor helps the dancers reach lofty goals while being protected against injury. In addition to the new dance space, we now have two extra bathrooms and a cross-training area. This new studio is a dream dance space for any professional dancer or student.”


Courtney emphasized that it was important for Engage to grow but they wanted to do it in a space that really benefited their students and instructors. When COVID hit, they thought this dream would have to go on the back burner until the distant future. However, that future is now and, not only has the school remained open, it is flourishing and expanding. Courtney described this journey of hard work as – “building on trust and growing with optimism.”  Both Marc and Courtney agree Engage Dance Academy would not be the strong organization it is today without its tremendously talented, flexible, and respectful Staff. 

Piloting through COVID and Zoom classes last year, without canceling a single one, and now back in studio still traversing through the ever-changing environment had to be challenging. Staying up to date with the latest CDC guidelines and providing their dance families with complete transparency about Engage policies has been key to earning and keeping family support. I asked about feedback from their family group.  Marc replied “Our families have trusted us to continue to teach, nurture and inspire their dancers through such an uncertain time, and our whole staff has worked tirelessly to continue to earn that confidence each day. The comment we hear all the time from both dancers and parents are ‘thank you’ for the consistency we have provided. In a time of uncertainty, the dance world remained- regular classes, successful performance and progression in their technical growth and love of dance.” 


With new space comes new opportunities. Courtney explained “With four gorgeous studios Engage has the ability to increase class offerings and still hold strong to our belief of smaller class sizes for maximum one on one attention. We are able to run multiple classes at once starting with a Baby Ballet at 9 am on weekdays & weekends through our most advanced students ending at 9:30 pm seven days a week. We have dance class times that fit different family schedules making us a studio for everyone.”

Engage Dance Academy prides itself on being a triple-track studio focusing on the wants and needs of all lovers of dance. Engage Dance Theatre, their pre-professional dance company performs three dance concerts a year including their enchanting holiday tradition The Nutcracker and features partnering classes with professionals from Milwaukee Ballet. Engage Comp Crew is their award-winning competition team.  Their Open Division Program allows dancers, ages 18month – adults, to pick and choose from many unique offerings including K-Pop and Aerial Silks without a huge time commitment. 


Marc and Courtney expressed how Engage would not be expanding today without the love and support of the Engage Dance Families. It was great to hear about a local business growing with optimism through yet another wave of this pandemic.


Engage is currently taking fall enrollment and will be holding open auditions for their annual Nutcracker held at the Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake. For more information go to or call (815)477-0033.