In 1903, Hammond’s first mayor, Marcus M. Towle, opened the Towle Opera House to provide the city with a venue for theatrical productions. Times changed, and with them the theater: the opera house became a cinema, and eventually a string of fashion shops moved into the space. The building seemed destined for a future of holographic retail, but in 2003—a century since the stage first opened—it was reborn as the Towle Theater. Since then, its intimate brick-lined confines have hosted such crowd-pleasing productions as The Musical of Musicals, the Musical and A New Brain.
At FieldCrest School of Performing Arts, students ascend through three levels of stardom—I'm a Star (for toddlers through preteens), Fashion Plate (for toddlers through preteens), and Camera Ready (for teens)—through bundles of acting, modeling, and dance classes that build a solid foundation of arts education. Acting classes build upon pantomime and improv before moving into performance and technique, and modeling sessions teach students how to prowl and pose like a pro on the catwalk. Ballet, jazz, tap, and hip-hop lessons give pupils the grace and moves they need to perform classical and contemporary routines.
Since its founding in 1977, FieldCrest has cultivated a motivational environment that encourages self-expression and poise. Besides arts classes, it also offers etiquette courses that can convert even the most slovenly kids and adults into Miss Manners devotees.
Dennis and Marge Dennehy started the Dennehy School of Irish Dance more than 50 years ago. Since then, the school's instructors have taught Irish dances to countless kids—including Michael Flatley, who went on to star in shows such as Riverdance and Lord of the Dance.
The instructors of Origins Dance Academy have traveled far and wide to learn and practice their craft, from choreographing in Los Angeles to dancing in prestigious European and Canadian ballet companies to appearing in area musicals. That wide range of experience allows them to teach youngsters in a wide variety of classes, including tap, ballet, and hip-hop. Origins also occasionally presents its students in performances and sends them to competitions judged by technique, difficulty, and how well the dancers perform sequences from Swan Lake while partnered with real swans.