The Center for Urban Performance and Service will bring the biblical story of Jonah to the bright lights and big stage of the Turlock Community Theater this weekend.
CUPS, a children's dance and music ministry at Westside Ministries, adapted the soundtrack from “Jonah: a Veggie Tales Movie” into a full-length dramatic dance production. The show includes group dance numbers, glowing sea creatures, and an 18-foot-long dancing whale.
The CUPS performers have been working on the show for three months now. On Tuesday they did their first run-through on stage at the Turlock Community Theater. About 50 children between the ages of four and 18 attended the rehearsal, along with CUPS teachers, parents and volunteers.
“A lot of the dancers have never been on a stage. Many of them have performed with CUPS before, but some haven't performed here at the community theater” said Jessica Banana, assistant director of CUPS.
Banana said that the first dress rehearsal was a good learning experience for the kids. They were able to see how the dances they practiced at the CUPS studio worked on the stage with the set and lighting.
Most CUPS members are children from Turlock's westside neighborhood. Some of them work one day a month for Westside Ministries pulling weeds or washing walls to pay for their tuition to CUPS. Banana said that the CUPS ministry reaches out to westside children, regardless of their ability to pay for tuition.
“If they are from the westside, we can always work with them on a payment plan or they can attend work days once a month,” Banana said.
All of the work the kids put in to their dance practice pays off on performance night, when they get the chance to share their ministry with the community. At rehearsal, CUPS dance director Kylene Murphy reminded the kids of why they perform.
“The reason we are here is not because we are putting on a pretty production, but to get the message out,” Murphy said.
The message of the story of Jonah is one that the children at Westside Ministries have studied throughout their dance practice sessions. They are regularly assigned Bible study homework that helps connect the Bible's message with their stage performance.
The CUPS performance of “Jonah” will be free to the public on Saturday. They have two performances, a matinee at 2 p.m. and an evening show at 7 p.m. CUPS directors encourage attendees of all ages to come and enjoy a family-friendly show. Donations will be accepted on behalf of CUPS and Westside Ministries to help cover production costs and support children's ministries.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.