AVPA Java Gala XI Fills the Frost with Fun

With so many moving parts – Theater, Dance, Film, Music, Visual Art – sometimes it’s a challenge to find one particular thing that really reflects the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts at Culver City High School. The 11th Annual Java Gala was the end of the year performance and presentation from all these departments, and the Robert Frost Auditorium was ringing with applause on the evening of June 8, 2019.

The AVPA had offered a unique event for incoming freshmen to try things out, and the middle school workshop gave a brief performance of ‘body percussion’ that lead into a charming appearance by Steven Lerner dressed as Freddie Mercury, cheering the audience into “We Will Rock You.” That’s one reflection on AVPA – audience participation is always valued.

Dance and Music collaborated on a dance and drumline performance that kept the rhythm reverberating, and Theater brought in their piece of punctuation with “That Sinking Feeling,” one of the Senior Plays that returned through the evening with an unfolding mystery.

The combination of musicians performing and artists painting live onstage was another fluid feature that came back several times, with the colorful canvases accompanied by the Jazz Ensemble, the Percussion Ensemble and the Senior Jazz Combo at intervals.

Film offered a ‘Silent Movie,’ with dialogue improvised live onstage, and a table reading collaboration with Dance on ‘Golf,’ in addition to short films throughout the show. Film also worked with Theater for a ‘trailer’ of the Spring Musical, ‘Into the Woods’ and gave an amusing look at interpreting lyrics literally with ‘I Want it That Way.

Dr. Tony Spano, Director of the AVPA, offered thanks to the late Bob Scales, who worked relentlessly to help bring the Robert Frost into it’s new and improved condition. “There are no end of details in rehabilitating a theater, and Bob looked after all of them, from the air ducts to the lightbulbs. WE just couldn’t be here right now like this without all of his attention and effort.”

The AVPA Hall of Fame inducted four new members, with former AVPA Board President Brenna Guthrie, retiring President Alisha Martin, long time Treasurer Julie Bechloff, and CCUSD Arts Co-ordinator Heather Moses all taking a brief bow for their generous application of time and talent to keep the AVPA moving forward.

Perhaps no single image expresses the AVPA better than the opening of the second act; Dr. Tania Fleischer conducting an excerpt from Stravinsky’s ‘Firebird Suite.’ The stage was crowded with talented students who had worked hard at their craft, being led by an enthusiastic and skillful mentor, culminating in a wonderful performance that was both soulful and stirring, pulsating and precise.

The academy gave Culver City an evening of enjoyable entertainment; what these talented and hard working artists will give to the world only time will tell.


Judith Martin-Straw


The Actors' Gang

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