From occasional attendees to avid show goers, this Sauk Rapids couple believes Fine Arts Programming at CSB/SJU might just be our area’s best kept secret.

Feel the rhythm of the world, the grandeur of professional dance and the energy of live theatrics. Be mesmerized by first-class entertainers and moved by powerful, artistic performances. Year after year, tucked away in the quaint surroundings of Collegeville, the College of St. Benedict’s and St. John’s University Fine Arts Programming (FAP) delivers an incredible offering of culturally diverse, uplifting and truly delightful programs that showcase big time, award-winning talent in a small, approachable (and affordable!) setting.

Roughly six years ago Melissa Marolf and her husband, Chad, of Sauk Rapids discovered FAP at CSB/SJU. Aside from occasionally attending performances at St. Ben’s when their daughter was younger and involved in the Cantabile Girls’ Choir as well as a few GREAT Theatre productions here and there, the couple was largely unaware of FAP until after Chad began working at the College in 2012.

At that time, the Marolfs had two children off at college and only their youngest son, Grant, living at home. The threesome found joy in reviewing the long list of upcoming performances together and selecting their “must-see” shows. Before long, they found themselves going to five or so performances each year.

As Grant got older and more involved with his own high school musings, Chad and Melissa began to purchase more and more tickets for just the two of them. As they did so, they continued to be impressed with the scope and caliber of the talent—and the affordable price tag.  Because of the kind and generous support of donors, FAP is able to offer tickets to the public for much less than what one might pay in the Twin Cities, all in lovely, well suited spaces with generous access to discussions and Meet & Greets with the performers after most programs (if one chooses to stay and partake, that is!).

If the accessible ticket price weren’t enough, the free on-site parking may certainly tip the bucket. Add in the beverages and snacks also available at reasonable prices before the show and at intermission, and the friendly customer service reps always ready to assist with any ticket changes, and quite frankly, one would be hard-pressed to find something not to love about the entire FAP experience.

Six years later the Marolfs are admittedly “FAP groupies” and have not once regretted it. Attending performances has become an integral part of their (almost) weekly routine. In fact, the couple, now Empty Nesters as of September, attended thirteen of the twenty programs in the 2017-2018 season. That’s two or three shows per month on average!

Among the impressive line-up, including the world renowned Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Five Browns (sibling pianists), Mike Super (magician/finalist on America’s Got Talent), Che Malombo (an energetic Brazilian dance troupe), CSB/SJU student theatre productions and many others, it was nearly impossible to pick a favorite performance.

While the Marolfs greatly enjoyed their time in the auditorium last season, a major highlight for Melissa happened outside of the theater at St. Cloud Technical High School, where she works. As a dedicated supporter of FAP, Melissa knew the FAP team continuously looks for opportunities to expose the Greater St. Cloud area to their programs and the artists who visit, so last January, she worked with their team to bring The Reminders (a hip hop group from Colorado), Amirah Sackett (a beautiful hip hop dancer), and DJ Man O Wax (of mixing fame) to Tech High School for a performance.

Many of my refugee students at Tech had not had the opportunity to meet and interact with performing artists at such a personal level when The Reminders (et al.) came to pay us a visit. They performed for over 400 Tech students at no cost and even held a small group workshop with my class after the morning concert,” explained Melissa. “I am proud to support an organization, like FAP, which has dedicated its mission to service to our community.

This month marked the release of the 2018-2019 FAP schedule (view it here) and it will undoubtedly be another incredible year of performances. Whether you make it a date night, a family outing or a girls’ night out, each and every performance will deliver a unique experience that will have you wondering why you’ve never taken advantage of this fantastic local entertainment option before.

Even if you’re not familiar with an artist, take a chance and make the choice to enhance your mind and your heart,” urged Melissa. “I can almost certainly guarantee that you won’t be disappointed if you choose to do so. And hey, I just may see you there!

 

Click here to view the 2018-2019 Fine Arts Programming and to purchase tickets.

CSB/SJU Fine Arts Programming At-A-Glance:

  • Programming runs from September-May and features over 20 different acts with dozens of performance dates and times
  • Get 2 free performances and excellent seating choices with the purchase of Early Bird tickets
  • Most programs offer access to discussions and Meet & Greets with the performers after the show
  • Free on-site parking is available
  • Snacks and refreshments are available to purchase before the show and during intermission
  • Box office associates are on-site at each performance or can be reached via phone-Sat. 10 am – 6 pm (during the programming season only)
  • Your support contributes to FAP’s greater mission of meaningfully serving, engaging and exposing the St. Cloud community to fine art and the artists visiting the area through outreach, intimate performances and Master Classes with various educational and community organizations.