NORTH AURORA – Sugar Grove resident Jennifer Madziarczyk said she wasn't sure what kind of reception Avenue J Studios would receive when she opened the business in January in the Elburn Community Center.
As it turned out, the reception has been overwhelming. Avenue J Studios in August will be moving to its new, larger home on the west side of North Aurora.
Avenue J Studios provides performing arts education for ages 3 to 18. Its focus is on building self-esteem and confidence in every student while promoting social responsibility and awareness, Madziarczyk said.
"We have 48 kids involved in our current production, 'Willy Wonka Jr.,'" Madziarczyk said. "The interest has just exploded on us."
"Willy Wonka Jr." will be presented from Aug. 22 to 24 at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre on the Batavia High School campus, 1201 Main Street, Batavia.
Madziarczyk said Avenue J Studios is squeezed for space in its 800-square-foot space in the Elburn Community Center.
"You can't have rehearsals and classes at the same time," she said.
The new North Aurora space is about 2,600 square feet, which will provide plenty of space for Avenue J Studios, Madziarczyk said. The new studio address is 208-210 Genesis Drive, and the space is in a shopping center off Orchard Road, near Woodman's grocery store.
Madziarczyk said she has first-hand knowledge of how the performing arts boosts a child's self-esteem through seeing the effect it has had on her own children. Three of her children have Asperger syndrome, she said.
"It's been a safe haven for them," she said. "It's a place where they can feel safe. Our whole mission is about building self-esteem and confidence."
That also is the mission of the Kaneland area group Promoting Enrichment and Kindness – or PEAK for Kids. Sugar Grove resident Renee Dee, the founder of the group, has joined forces with Madziarczyk.
PEAK for Kids will be based out of the new North Aurora space, which also will allow the group to hold activities for both children and adults.
"Our mission statements were almost redundant," Dee said. "We both set out to build kids' self-awareness and self respect."
Dee's daughter, Natalie, 9, was part of Avenue J Studios' first production, "Once Upon a Leprechaun."
"My daughter started getting involved in theater, and it became her thing," Dee said.
Dee said ideally the studio would be in the Kaneland area, but she said an affordable location was not available. Dee said PEAK for Kids will continue to hold activities in the Kaneland area, including an after-school program that will start at Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove this fall.
Information about Avenue J Studios is available by going to its website, www.avenuejstudios.org.