Little Theatre To Present 36th Annual Junior Guilders Christmas Program

The Lucille Ball Little Theatre will present its 36th annual Junior Guilders and Children Sing Christmas show, “The Special Gifts of Christmas,” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9 — with a 2 p.m. matinee also occurring on Dec. 9. Submitted photo by Aubrey Russell

This year’s Christmas show at the Lucille Ball Little Theatre will take its audiences to the North Pole for an evening full of singing and dancing.

The theater’s annual Junior Guilders and Children Sing Christmas program, “The Special Gifts of Christmas,” will be staged at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, and Saturday, Dec. 9 — with a 2 p.m. matinee also occurring on Dec. 9.

Featuring 40 performers between the ages of 4 and 17, “The Special Gifts of Christmas” will treat those in attendance to an ensemble presentation of old Christmas favorites as well as new tunes. Four veteran actors will also share the stage with the younger performers, including: John Pickett as Santa Claus; Aubrey Russell as The Grinch; Patti Dechow as Mrs. Claus; and a special mystery guest.

Children Sing, an ensemble of performers ages 4-7, will sing about the foods they enjoy at holiday time; and the audience will meet dancing reindeer, an energetic Frosty the Snowman and a graceful Suzy Snowflake.

Founded in 1983 by Artistic Director Helen Merrill and Lucille Miller, the singing group was established following the Little Theatre’s 1982 production of “Annie,” in which a number of young girls were reportedly “heartbroken” after being denied roles as orphan extras due to a limited cast list. Frederica Woodward, artistic director of the “Annie” production, conceived of the singing group as a means of including the aforementioned youth in the Little Theatre’s Christmas programming and subsequently contacted Merrill, a theater board member and actress, to direct the group.

After almost being denied by the board of directors, Merrill successfully established the group in 1983, with longtime theater accompanist Miller accompanying the group on piano. Since that time, the Junior Guilders has grown in participation from a dozen children to almost 40 performers. Participants range in age from 7-16, and meet each week to practice their singing, acting and dancing. The group performs a variety of musical stylings, including folk, jazz, blues, country and rock ‘n’ roll.

The Junior Guilders is a volunteer-based organization that offers training to its members at no charge. There is no cost to any child with the desire to experience live theater and the living arts.

Tickets to “The Special Gift of Christmas” are $10 for adults, and $5 for students and season ticket holders. They can be purchased by calling the Little Theatre box office at 483-1095 or online at, or in-person from any Junior Guilder member.