For many, the holiday season is a time for celebration, laughter, remembrances, and giving. One show in town has all of this and so much more—Holiday Motown. Holiday Motown will make you laugh, sing, dance, and take you back in time to the days of the Motown greats—
For many, the holiday season is a time for celebration, laughter, remembrances, and giving. One show in town has all of this and so much more—Holiday Motown. Holiday Motown will make you laugh, sing, dance, and take you back in time to the days of the Motown greats—including acts by the Supremes, the Temptations, Smoky Robinson, and others with a few surprises thrown in.
On top of the entertainment value, the show is a fundraiser for Minnesota Performance Institute (MPI) that provides arts instructions to students of all ages and backgrounds. The price of attendance becomes a gift to the institute and to the students of the school who pay based on a sliding scale.
"Holiday Motown is a high spirited and humorous look at a first Christmas in Motown," said Jeffery Cryer, the institute’s founder and director, who says the music would not disappoint you. Performers include accomplished singers and performers from the Twin Cities area, including some of the school’s own instructors.
MPI got its start in May of 2003 when Cryer identified a strong need in the community for arts education that was affordable to anyone who wanted to participate. As a choir teacher at Higher Ground Academy in St. Paul, he recognized that music, drama, and art could help kids and people of all ages succeed—especially students who were often considered "failures" academically.
"When I polled the community about bringing something like this to St. Paul, everybody said ‘Yes, Yes, Yes’," said Cryer, an accomplished artist himself in drama, music, and the visual arts. "I try to teach my students that magic really does exist. The arts allow a child or an adult to discover something deeper about their inner self and inner being."
While the institute is still in the beginning stages, over 50 students—from age five to 60 years old—attend various classes. Current classes include voice, flute, advanced vocals, piano, violin, art appreciation, African aerobics, and drama. Other classes will be available as the demand arises. Classes are held Monday to Friday beginning at 5:30 p.m. and ending by 8 p.m.
"Our focus is on children of color who have not had access to music, dance, drama lessons, or another art, but have a desire to learn," said Cryer. "However, we welcome any group, any age, and students with a range of ability—from accomplished to beginners."
For example, in one piano class, there is an eight-year-old and a 58-year-old taking piano lessons together. Students or parents are asked to pay $25 per week, but no one will be turned away if they can’t afford the fees. This weekly fee covers as many classes as someone wants to attend in a particular week.
MPI’s new schedule will begin in January. Persons interested in learning more about the school, or enrolling a child or themselves in the institute, should contact Jeffery Cryer at 651-287-3805.
"I like to think that the institute helps knock down barriers, and provides a healthy, creative, safe haven for kids and an escape and opportunity for adults," said Cryer.
In the meantime, to help support the school, celebrate the holiday season, laugh, and be thoroughly entertained, don’t miss the Holiday Motown performance at Cedar Exchange at Central Presbyterian Church at 500 Cedar St. in St. Paul. Performance will be held, on Sunday, Dec. 21 at 5 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by calling Ticket Works at 612-343-3390 or online at www.ticketworks.com. In advance, tickets are $18 for adults and $8 for children 12 and under. For group discounts, call 651-772-8324.
1st row l-r Michael Walk, Dianne Moore 2nd row Jeffrey Cryer, Leah Erickson, Howard Chaney, Patricia Jackson, Quiarre Brown, Roderick Cryer
top row Randy Robbins, Kymberlie Ramsa