RAPA is a non-profit 501c3 corporation primarily training students in theatre arts, voice, and dance.
RAPA’s mission reflects its commitment to all community persons interested in the arts, ages 4-adult. Fulfilling its mission, many of the students in RAPA’s career program have performed on Broadway, tours and in feature films. Others have gone on to prestigious performing arts colleges and conservatories. Still others have become playwrights, directors and founders of Community theatre groups. It is within RAPA’s mission to provide a safe environment for all students, artists and performers of all nationalities and financial backgrounds. RAPA promotes an open door policy to provide arts education and opportunities to all who share interest in the arts.
Founded in 1978 by Executive Director, Ms. Judi Andreano, the RAPA School for Performing Arts was started in a 1,300 sq. foot building in Webster, New York where it served all ages in dance, acting, voice, piano and guitar. After 10 years RAPA moved to the City of Rochester for a more central location within the Auditorium Theatre Complex. This was to ensure and focus its mission to serve inner city disadvantaged youth.
In 1998, RAPA purchased a 20,000 sq. foot building on East Main Street in the Rochester theatre district. After 30 years of serving the arts community, Judi Andreano retired in early 2011. During the next several years RAPA began a rebuilding effort under the direction of Board President and new CEO, Jim Vollertsen. Mr. Vollertsen diligently worked to reorganize and regroup and hired Judith A. Ranaletta to join the RAPA Team. Ms. Ranaletta had recently retired from Greece Central School District where she was well known for her internationally praised Greece Athena Show Choir. She immediately founded RAPA’s Roc City Singers, a premier group of singers and dancers that has performed at the Rochester International Jazz Festival with Lou Gramm, at the Rochester Fringe Festival, and many other events and festivals.
Today RAPA can boast of its professional teaching personnel. Mr. Vollertsen asked Dr. Allan O’Grady Cuseo, former President of Blackfriars Theatre and the Rochester City Ballet, to help RAPA develop itself for the 21st Century and to restructure the school. Dr. Cuseo hired Eric Vaughn Johnson, Managing Director of the exciting youth oriented theatre company OFC Creations, to serve as Business Manager and Program Director. The RAPA Board of Directors appointed Dr. Cuseo as the new Artistic Director and Headmaster of the redesigned RAPA School for Performing Arts. Together Dr. Cuseo and Mr. Johnson developed a new curriculum based educational program using current teaching strategies. In the last few years the RAPA School for Performing Arts has doubled its enrollment with additions of classes like Puppetry, Stage Combat, and Shakespeare. The RAPA school also began an outreach program for the community at large, including new arts based programs at Monroe High School, UPREP Charter School, and the Maplewood Lifespan Center.
The restructured RAPA’s success had been enormous and it soon outgrew the facility on East Main Street. In the Fall of 2012 Mr. Vollertsen began negotiations with the Eastman Kodak Company for the use of the Theater on the Ridge. This hidden gem of Rochester was built in 1959 and over the years was primarily used for Kodak employee events. The 1,964 seat main theatre boasts the largest stage in Rochester and is the most complete and finest performing arts building in Western New York. In addition to the main theatre, the building houses two other theaters, more than 20 conference rooms, a 1,100 seat restaurant, a 400 seat restaurant, and a 950-seat gymnasium. In June of 2013, RAPA was awarded a long-term lease of Theatre on the Ridge, which includes 1,400 adjacent parking spaces. The facility was re-named the Kodak Center for Performing Arts and now houses all RAPA rehearsals, productions, and operations.
Since the restructure of RAPA, many theatre and arts based organizations have joined as Partners in the Arts to help with the expansion. These include, The Greater Rochester Repertory Company, OFC Creations, The Mystery Company, Rochester Latino Theatre Company, The Draper Center, Hochstein School for Music and Dance, and the Rochester Arts Council. RAPA is a proud member of Theatre Rocs; a dynamic not-for-profit consortium of Rochester’s finest live theatre organizations dedicated to highlighting Rochester as a respected, economically-viable community of culture, learning and prosperity. Formed in the fall of 2008, the members of TheatreROCS are supported by an excess of 250,000 arts patrons in and around Rochester. RAPA has also been part of The First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival from its inception. Leading the way, RAPA has been billed as “the largest Fringe venue” for the past four years, housing between 50 and 80 shows over the ten day festival.
RAPA continues to grow and expand each year with major musical productions and events on the Kodak Center stage and in the community with some of Rochester’s finest performers and artists.