The CHS Theatre Guild is adding a new program to work in tandem with the fall musical— Little Guildees. This program is open for 3rd-6th graders, and the kids (dubbed “Guildees”) are taught a song and dance by the high schoolers in Theatre Guild, performing this work at the intermission of Xanadu. They also are taught a portion of the finale of the musical, which the Guildees will perform on stage with the rest of the cast.
“It’s an opportunity for some of our elementary schoolers to get a quick taste of what musical theatre is,” Paige Conway, producer of Little Guildees, says. “[They’re] coming on stage with us and doing a song that the high schoolers are doing, and it’s not an easy one, either. We’re putting them on stage alongside students that they look up to, which I think is exciting for them.”
Dania Dunlap-Hurden, a mother of two of the boys in Little Guildees, talks about the effect being in the program has on them and their excitement for it. “I think they’re enjoying some of the big kids and the interactions there… some of the [high schoolers] are having an impact on them.”
Little Guildees isn’t just for the benefit of the younger kids, though. It also largely benefits the older students who get to interact with the Guildees. “Having a chance to teach things that you already know to people who are younger than you is such a great skill,” Conway says. “It’s a skill set that everyone can learn and use, even if they aren’t going into this as a field.”
Kelsey Gibbons, the student choreographer for Little Guildees, talks about the benefits of teaching younger students. “It’s fun seeing all the kids who watch me do it for the first time,” she says. “[They] think that they’re not going to do it because it’s too fast or it’s too hard, and then seeing them going through the process of learning it is uplifting for me.”
That’s not to say that there aren’t challenges, though. “Making it easy enough for kids that aren’t my age to learn but hard enough that they won’t get it in a day was difficult,” Gibbons says.
“Having never done this at Chelsea before there’s definitely a learning curve,” Conway adds. “There’s also the nice and exciting challenge of teaching the high school students about what these timelines are… I’m teaching you guys how to teach, and it’s always a challenge.”
However, the bright spots far outweigh any difficulties. “[The best part is] hands-down when I’m checking [the Guildees] out every day, and when their moms are like, ‘Did you have fun?’ and they just look at me, and they smile, and they go, ‘Yeah. Yeah, I did,’” Conway says, a smile on her face.
Dunlap-Hurden echoes such a sentiment. “Theatre is one of those activities where anyone who wants to learn… and wants to be part of something bigger has a place.”
The production of Xanadu, along with the performance of the Little Guildees, will run on November 9th at 7 pm, and November 10th at 1 and 7 pm, and all members of the Chelsea community are welcome.