Everyone gets into the act

At Edge of the Wood our inclusive philosophy means every student is afforded an opportunity to perform in front of an audience.  Student-actors receive training in improv, speech, movement, acting, and musical theatre in a professional atmosphere.  Edge of the Wood students learn innovation and creativity, building discipline, self-confidence, leadership, and teamwork skills in a supportive, yet challenging environment.


Founded in summer of 2000, Edge of the Wood Theatre began as a four-week summer program for neighborhood youth.  It has evolved into a vibrant theatre school featuring three terms of courses for ages 6-18, three full-length musical productions each year, as well as several short showcases for younger students. Edge of the Wood is proud to have served thousands of students over the past two decades, many of whom have gone on to careers in the performing arts and arts education.

With the launch of its Resident Theatre in 2013, Edge broadened its theatrical scope, producing family-friendly shows across genres, bringing professional caliber theatre to the Edgebrook community, and engaging and inspiring young people as performers and theatre-goers.  The Edge of the Wood artistic team pairs with professional guest directors and designers to present a season of theatre featuring adult actors, as well as select students from the program.

In the summer of 2014, longtime Edge students Grant Kilian, Tara Maloney, and Stephen Oberhardt formed “The Rest of the Wood Theatre,”an entirely student-run organization which produced one full-length production each summer for four years.  Their productions included a “nameless Harry Potter spoof,” A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Urinetown, and Twisted.


Jeanann Power, founder and instructor, holds a Bachelors degree in Theatre from Rollins College and a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. In Chicago, she trained with the Victory Gardens Theatre, The Players Workshop of the Second City, Del Close Workshops, and Sarantos Studios. She has performed with the Asolo Theatre, the State Theatre of Florida, the Annie Russell Summer Theatre, and the Kalamazoo Festival Playhouse; and in commercials and industrial films.  Jeanann co-directs weekly 2-hour classes, acts as technical director for Edge of the Wood productions, stage manages all student performances, and is a producer for the Resident Theatre.

Janet Rourke, founder and instructor, majored in Theatre at Northeastern Illinois University.  She is proud to have trained and taught with Lester Netzky at Tom Thumb Players in Chicago for 14 years, where she began learning Stanislavski method at the age of five.  She is grateful it started her amazing journey that is theatre.  She has appeared on the stage of the Goodman Theatre, the Marriott, the Barn, CenterStage Theatre, and OOCC, where she worked with Rick Snyder, Steppenwolf ensemble member, and Broadway favorite Karen Mason. Janet co-directs weekly 2-hour classes, choreographs mainstage productions, acts as costume coordinator for all student performances, and is a producer for the Resident Theatre.

John Chambers, instructor and Resident Theatre Artistic Director, holds a degree in Vocal Performance with a certificate in Musical Theatre from Northwestern University.  As an actor,  John has appeared at Drury Lane Oakbrook Terrace, Invictus Theatre, Theatre at the Center, Shakespeare on the Green, Court Theatre, and Light Opera Works, among others.  John joined Edge of the Wood in 2003 and teaches classes for students ages 9-12, as well as private voice (singing) lessons for all ages.  With the Resident Theatre, he has produced and directed The Secret Garden,  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Into the Woods, The Man Who Came to Dinner,  She Loves Me, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Meet Me in St. Louis, and Light Up the Sky.

Grant Kilian, instructor for one-hour classes, is a Chicago-based actor/director who has appeared at the Marriott Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, The Encore Musical Theatre Company, The Resident Theatre, and on NBC’s Chicago Fire.   Grant is an eleven year student of Edge of the Wood and holds certification from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). As a director, Grant has mounted seven shows, including productions of Urinetown, The Dream of the Burning Boy, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He is represented as an actor by Stewart Talent.

Nora Talagainstructor for 50-minute classes, is a recent graduate of Seattle University where she received her degree in Theatre.  She is a Chicago-based actress, singer, director, and teacher.  Edge of the Wood introduced her to her love for theatre at a young age, and she has continued performing throughout high school, college, and now professionally!  She is psyched to be back with the awesome community at Edge.  www.noratalaga.com

Brad WhaleyMusic Director for two-hour classes, is a pianist and vocal coach, specializing in opera, oratorio, and art song.  He is a classically trained baritone, a vocal coach and accompanist for Edge of the Wood, and a member of the American Guild of Organists and the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. He was also the music director for the Resident Theatre’s productions of The Secret Garden, Into the Woods, She Loves MeThe Fantasticks, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Meet Me In St. Louis.

Contact Us

Edge of the Wood
At Edgebrook Community Church
6736 N Loleta Ave
Chicago, IL 60646

Mrs. Rourke: 312-925-9080
Mrs. Power: 312-310-0305