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Let the Music Set You Free

The Music Theatre Workshop lends a stage and a voice to the Chicago teens who need it most.

Chicago's Music Theatre Workshop isn't afraid to challenge conventions. For decades it has addressed young people's social issues through the unlikely medium of musical theatre. Since 1991, it has reached out to an often forgotten population: teens awaiting trial at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

The pairing paid off. Teens jumped at the chance to put their thoughts to music – and in the process learn a great deal about patience and persistence. In 2001, a similar program was extended to the Illinois Youth Center in Warrenville.

Participants from the CCJTDC don't just perform plays, they do everything from writing the lyrics and composing the music to constructing the set and making the costumes. For Meade Palidofsky, Music Theatre Workshop's artistic director, it's a way for the inmates at the center to see a different side of themselves and show their talents to the world.

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Join Meade Palidofsky as she helps give kids a second chance with the Music Theater Workshop.


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"The Girls on the Wall" keep the beat for the 2005 Music Theatre Workshop production of Making It at the Illinois Youth Center in Warrenville.

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Lourdes T. dances in the Workshop's Fabulous Females performance of Mommie and Me at the Cook County Temporary Detention Center.

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Lauren Marsh, Ashleigh Muhammad and Ronica James of Music Theatre Workshop production The Secret Inside. Photo courtesy of Music Theatre Workshop.

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Victoria Williams and Nicole Moore in The Secret Inside, a musical written and performed by the Young Women's Leadership Charter School in 2005. Photo courtesy of Music Theatre Workshop.


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