GHEC students set to offer ‘Robin Hood’

Granada-Huntley-East Chain third-, fourth- and fifth-graders gather for notes from Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre directors Kellie Nolan and Mikey Burson after rehearsal on Wednesday afternoon. “Robin Hood” will be performed 7 p.m. Thursday at 7 and noon Friday at the school.

Granada-Huntley-East Chain third- through fifth-graders are set to perform the exciting tale of Robin Hood through the help of Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre.

Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre is a professional touring theatre company based in Barrett. It provides a theatrical experience to communities across the upper Midwest through a one-week residency. Although it has been several years, the Theatre has been involved with GHEC in the past, and was excited to come back to the small town with the production of “Robin Hood.”

Two professional actors/directors were sent to Granada this week to work with third- through fifth-graders. While productions are usually performed on the weekends, GHEC is staging the show Thursday night and Friday afternoon. This has left little time for students to be introduced to their roles and bring together an off-script production for family and friends in the community. But they have made great strides, demonstrating the ability in the staff and students of GHEC.

“I am very impressed with their work so far,” said director Kellie Nolan. “With less time to learn their parts than most schools, the students have really stepped up to the challenge and are even advanced compared to other groups we see at this point in the week.”

Auditions were held on Monday, and from there the week was packed with breaking into groups on Tuesday, and adding props and set on Wednesday. The Theatre usually rehearses after school, but is experiencing another first as GHEC has allowed rehearsals during school hours, from 9-11 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m.

“Our rehearsals are four hours long every day, and the school and staff have been extremely accommodating to us,” said director Mikey Burson. “It has been great to work with the students during the school day, and the teachers have been great with encouraging and enforcing what we are doing, as well as providing support and assistance to us when needed.”

The third- through fifth-graders are not required to be involved in the performance, allowing students the chance to explore new passions on their own. Fifty-five students chose to be involved in this year’s performance, providing a well-balanced number for the cast.

“The students choose if they wish to participate, and all participants are guaranteed a part in the play if they audition,” said Principal Mandy Fletcher. “I am super-excited for students to have this opportunity at this age. There are so many lessons to be learned by having access to a performance opportunity like this, and has taught our students beneficial tools such as patience and teamwork, to name a few.”

The arts have taken a back seat in many schools over the past few years, and the push for continuing to allow these opportunities for students at GHEC has been well-received throughout the community.

“Most schools are not as fortunate to have such a supportive administration of the fine arts,” said MaryKatherine Deschamp, GHEC music teacher. “My hope is that the kids gain a lot of excitement and incentive to participate in the arts for the years to come.”

This event is made possible by the GHEC school district, Community In Action group and a grant provided by the Prairie Lakes Regional Arts Council from funds appropriated by the state Legislature.

Ticket prices are $3 per person while children 5 and under get in for free. All proceeds from tickets return to help fund future opportunities such as this.

“We have enjoyed our time here at GHEC and in the community,” Nolan said. “The students have worked hard this week and we hope everyone enjoys the show.”

Parent-teacher conferences at GHEC will be 3:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, providing parents a way to visit with teachers before the performance takes place at 7 p.m. The play also will be performed at noon Friday.