The best acting classes for your little drama queen or king

Lights, camera, action! Whether your kiddo is destined for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or simply wants to let loose and have fun, acting classes are a great way to build self-confidence and teach them how to express themselves. Chicago is known for world-class theater, so naturally, there are tons of places locally that offer acting classes for beginners. In most cases, kiddos who enjoy and excel in these early-stage classes can eventually move to audition-based ensembles.

Acting Studio Chicago

Best for ages: 8-18

Budding actors can get their creative wheels turning in this beginner class that uses fun, imagination exercises and focus games to teach core skills like confidence, risk taking, cooperation and problem-solving skills.

10 W. Hubbard Street, Chicago

Chicago Children’s Theater

Best for ages: 5-13

In this series of classes that graduates students from courses ranging from beginner to advanced, young performers develop confidence through game-based play, grow in collaborative play and finish each session with a workshop performance in front of parents.

100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago

Emerald City Theatre

Best for ages: 3 1/2-13

Independent classes at Emerald City Theatre start at age 3.5, where early learners build their skills through creative play (there’s also a basic parent-tot class that starts at age 2). Around Kindergarten age, kiddos will get more into the nitty gritty by learning simple lines, eventually developing characters, auditioning for roles and performing in front of parents and audiences.

City-wide locations (Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square) vary by class

Lookingglass Theatre

Best for ages: 3-14

The basics of acting start with the Lookingglass process-based approach. Each week, students learn core values of performance through warm-ups, theater games and exercises focused on team-building and imaginative play, and an exploration of a story. On the last day of class, family and friends are invited to watch the “informance” (informal performance).

Classes take place at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut Street, Chicago

Piven Theatre Workshop

Best for ages: 8-18

Owned by actor Jeremy Piven’s parents, this Evanston-based program teaches young actors the fundamentals of acting through “disciplined play”–games, improvisation, and storytelling—to train actors. Attended by John Cusack and Jeremy Piven himself, Piven Workshop classes focus on helping actors find artistic authenticity, spontaneity and individuality in a fun and fast-paced environment.

927 Noyes Street, Evanston

Second City

Best for ages: 7-13

The Second City approach to acting brings—you guessed it—improv into the classroom. Proven to help kids express get into a character without the fear of judgment, this class also helps students develop their personal voice in a supportive environment, Of course, the class is done with a Second City mentality so there is an emphasis on comedy.

1616 N. Wells Street, Chicago

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