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New theater group gearing up in Homewood

The arts scene in Homewood is expanding with the formation of 23 Miles South, a new theater group that is holding auditions Monday and Tuesday, June 5 and 6, for its first production.
The new theater company is looking for six women, four men, two teens and eight children for its production of “Harriet the Spy” based on a classic children’s book by the same name. The play will be performed Aug. 11 and 12.
Actors should come between 6 and 8 p.m. to St. Paul’s Community Church, 18200 Dixie Highway in Homewood with a prepared monologue. Actors will be given readings from the script as well.
The group is also looking for costume and set designers and volunteers for a variety of backstage and behind-the-scenes positions.
Homewood resident Dawn Peloso is leading the 23 Miles South initiative. A Lewis University graduate with a degree in theater, she built her reputation here by teaching and directing theater programs for the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District for a dozen years. That program has been cut back, and Peloso will not be doing any productions. She wll be teaching acting classes this year as part of a park district summer camp program. 
She thinks there is an interest in Homewood for live theater, and she says she’s anxious to give it a try. Peloso is working with Anne Colton and Paula Thornton Greear, who she met through their children’s involvement in the park district theater programs. Maggie Colton, now a college student, is serving on the 23 Miles South board.
Peloso said she’s able to get this theater going because of the generosity of St. Paul’s Community Church in allowing the group to use its space.
Pastor Frank Rodgers said the church, affiliated with United Church of Christ, said worship services are still the church’s primary function, but the membership isn’t what it once was and the space is available for what he calls “an incubator for the arts.”
Already parts of the building are being used by Potpourri Strings, a group offering violin lessons, and the teen group Theatre and Arts Leadership Kouncil (TALK) that helps empower teens to make a difference through the arts. Rodgers says there also is an idea for a coffee house for adults that he hopes will come to fruition.
“We’re very excited about working collaboratively with these groups and I think it does draw us closer to that creative spirit. We do believe that the arts kind of connects us to the spirit of the Creator and so this is one way to fulfill our mission and work with all ages in the community,” Rodgers said.
Peloso has two other 23 Miles South projects on the books: a second play, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” for the holiday season and GirlFest 2018, a program that will relate to empowering young women.
For more information on this new theater group, or to volunteer, contact [email protected].

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