The Noel S. Ruiz Theatre at CM Performing Arts Center, a not-for-profit organization is “home” to people from all walks of life who work collaboratively to produce quality theatrical productions. Guided by the values of excellence, diversity and community, we seek to make a positive contribution to arts-education, culture and the quality of life on Long Island.
During his years as a youth minister, founder Noel S. Ruiz came to realize the importance of music, drama and dance as tools for expression, teaching and community building. Often after one of his productions people would approach him and jokingly say, “Do you think you could bring this program to my facility?” It was at that moment that Noel began to consider the possibility of forming a traveling performance troupe. With the encouragement and support of many friends and co-workers Creative Ministries was founded on February 15, 1987.
In the Spring of 1987 we produced the first traveling program, The Journey, Cross and Crucifixion, a dramatic presentation of the Stations of the Cross. What was once a dream had evolved into a year round ministry touring with a variety of programs to churches schools and organizations through out Long Island and the neighboring boroughs. We became a legal not-for-profit and incorporated organization recognized by both the state and federal government in March of 1988.
We quickly outgrew our first rehearsal space on Knickerbocker Ave. in Bohemia and moved to a larger rental space on Dante Court in Holbrook. This new space incorporated offices, rehearsal space and some storage space. For the first few years we only produced Broadway Musicals during the summer, but by 1994 we were producing major musicals throughout the year some involving as many as 150 people with lights, sound, full size sets, an orchestra, and beautiful costumes. We continued to rent space in local schools and churches for the actual performances. It became evident that it was neither cost effective or artistically prudent to rent auditoriums. It was time to take the leap of faith and investigate the possibility of buying or renting our own full theatre space.
In January of 1996 an ambitious, multi-focused core group established the first building fund campaign to investigate and locate a new permanent home. After locating the Oakdale Theatre, an old movie theatre vacant for 9 years, and negotiating with the landlord terms of lease and renovation we began the arduous task of turning this eyesore into a facility capable of producing live theatre. This involved raising over $150,000 and recruiting our members to help with the actual renovations to keep the cost down. Over 100 volunteers spent hours, painting, sanding, recovering seats, hanging electrical wires and laying carpet. We had some help from our continuous supporter, Fleet Bank, as they sent a crew of volunteer employees to help with the renovation and donated much of the office furniture and many computers. The Creative Ministries Performing Arts Center opened May 23, 1997 with Man of La Mancha. “The Impossible Dream” was realized.