ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Students from Ellis Elementary, like Pete Green, Cyjah Charlesballard, and Asia Turner, always wondered what the historic Coronado Performing Arts Center looked like on the inside.

On Wednesday, they got to see what the 96-year-old theater looked like at a special, free performance of The Peking Acrobats, as part of the theater’s “Reach for the Stars” student outreach project.

The Peking Acrobats is a show designed to create the atmosphere of a Chinese Carnival. The show is on its 33rd North American tour.

Over 5,000 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade students will experience the performance during multiple matinee shows.

The students said they thought the fantasy-land atmosphere of the Coronado was better than they had imagined.

Beth Howard, executive director of Friends of the Coronado, said the theater wants all children to experience the cultural arts.

“Not all kids have the advantages, whether logistically, financially, whatever it is, to see cultural arts,” she said.

Howard said she hopes Wednesday’s experience will enrich their lives so they continue to be lovers of the arts.

“It’s about community pride. It’s about exposure to the cultural arts. It’s about the experience in their education,” she said.

The students said they were thrilled with the performance and can’t wait to come back.

Tickets for Wednesday night’s performance at 6:30 p.m. are free to the public.