Visionary Chicago Educator Honored at Inaugural Performance Series

Chicago Academy for the Arts Dance Department Performs “Storm” choregraphed by Dance Department Chair Randy Duncan (CREDIT: Michele Marie Photography

Visual Arts Students sketch Dance Department models during Cocktail Hour Reception – Artists: Bri Mallick (VA ’23), Emily Ross (VA ’23). Dancers: Luciana Sandy (DA ’24), Grace Hospenthal (DA ’25), Christian Ayala (DA ’23)(CREDIT: Michele Marie Photography

Head of School, Jason Patera, and Songwriter and Alum, Justin Tranter (Musical Theatre ’98)(CREDIT: Michele Marie Photography

Two-day showcase celebrates Chicago Academy for the Arts’ first Principal, spotlights four generations of contributions to arts, music and education

This school made me the artist/songwriter I am and it saved my life. I am proud to support a place that educates young creatives and gives them a foundation of compassion, community and confidence.”

— – Justin Tranter (they/them) – 1998, Musical Theatre

CHICAGO, IL, USA, April 18, 2024 / — For more than four decades, The Chicago Academy for the Arts (The Academy) has provided world-class education for aspiring young artists in the fields of dance, media arts, music, musical theatre, theatre, and visual arts. To celebrate this legacy, The Academy is pleased to announce the inaugural weekend-long celebration, Encore, on Friday April 19 and Saturday April 20, 2024 at The Studebaker Theatre at the Fine Arts Building.

An all-school showcase on Friday April 19 features performances and top works from The Academy’s six departments. A curated performance on Saturday April 20 celebrates more than four generations of students, staff, and supporters who continue to make a transformative impact on The Academy. It will be followed by a party where Chicago Academy for the Arts’ first principal, Frank Mustari, will be honored. Mr. Mustari served Chicago Academy for the Arts in various roles for 21 years. Tony Award and GRAMMY-nominated alumni Elisabeth Withers (Music ‘88) will be a distinguished guest. Several alumni, current and former students, and distinguished guests will be in attendance.

As one of Chicago’s leading arts and culture high schools, and one of the most diverse schools in Illinois, The Academy created an unmatched and transformative educational model. Students are inspired to expand their potential through rigorous arts training paired with an esteemed academic curriculum.

Notable alumni of The Academy include Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live actor, author, comedian – 2002, Theatre), Lara Flynn Boyle (award-winning actress – 1988, Theatre), Justin Tranter (award-winning musician and music producer – 1998, Musical Theatre), Lalah Hathaway (award-winning singer – 1986, Music), Tom Gold (award-winning choreographer – 1986, Dance), and Kevin Miles (actor and current “Jake from State Farm” – 2008, Theatre).

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Graduates of The Academy earned more than $40 million in college scholarships over the past five years and gained admission to the nation’s best universities and conservatories. Most students go on to pursue competitive careers in the arts, as well as the sciences, humanities, business, and more. Alumni exemplify the powerful effect of art and arts education as Broadway stars, GRAMMY award winners, engineers, and entrepreneurs. This special two-day performance series will highlight students, alumni, and all those that call The Academy home.

The Academy would like to thank Encore sponsors:

Ted and Katy Ahern 

Emily Barr and Scott Kane 

The Bayless Family 

Carlos Claudio

Terri and Michael Freeman 

Rusty Hernandez-Sanfilippo and Jeffrey Sanfilippo

Jennifer and Daniel McHugh

Rich and Susan Sanders 

Justin Tranter

John and Julie Varga 

Todd and Sharon Walbert

Kenwal Steel


AV Chicago

Ryan Arnold
DeSoto & State Communications
+ +1 773-789-9782
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