AVPA Closes the Year with Java Gala 15

Culver City High School finished off a year of artistic achievement with Java Gala 15; after a two year hiatus, the 15th Academy of Visual and Performing Arts celebration was live at the Robert Frost on June 3, 2023. The show has been released online for the last two years and the Robert Frost Auditorium remained closed for during the pandemic.

There was a beautiful setup at the entrance with string lights, snack tables, and raffle baskets. Guests were greeted with something so precious and so missed: racks of the art student’s work. The original works from the students have traditionally been displayed at the gala, and seeing them brought back what a milestone it was to be able to do it in person. 

The show opened with an amazing set from the Jazz Ensemble that was everything you could have wanted from a jazz performance.

Ginger Anderson-Willis’s trailer for Theatredepartment’s fall play “Clue” was screened, getting the audience into even more of a swing. Take 10 Films, the AVPA film making department, screened the ‘Sizzle Reel’ that was fun and comforting within itself, but also reminding our community that the future of cinema is in good hands.

Dancers took the stage for a piece with the most bittersweet title: “Til’ Next Time” and performed to an even more heart-rending song: “Good Old Days” by Macklemore and Kesha. They moved beautifully to the music.

Current AVPA President Crystal Yelverton spoke before and after intermission, each presentation kind-hearted, eloquent,  and a truly sincere farewell to her position.

After the raffle drawing that welcomed the audience back into the auditorium, AVPA Director Dr. Tony Spano conducted his orchestra in “String of Dolphins” by Yukiko Nishimura. Truly, no better way to open the second act.

A short film by Varian Yi,  dedicated to the work of Wes Anderson, was screened. At this point in the show, there was a glitch in the projection that hampered the screening. It lasted for most of the film. At this time, the writer would like to take this opportunity and use this platform and reach out to Yi just to say that we know that wasn’t how your film was supposed to be seen, and that even through technical difficulties, we all knew just how good a short film you made. And what could be more Wes Anderson than an unforeseen plot twist? 

The AVPA Dancers returned to do another group number, this time to Stevie Wonder’s ‘Another Star,’ bringing the company onstage for some big moves and bright steps. 

Timmy Francuz, who carried a central weight as Jean Valjean in the Theater department’s musical production of Les Miserables this past year took his senior turn with style, singing, “Bring Him Home” one last time on the Frost stage.

Turning next to a collaboration between the Art and Theater students: actors did that a scene from the musical Hairspray, and the artists did a drawing of what that scene felt like to them, creating art for the audience in real time. 

In closing, You Can’t Stop the Beat, also from Hairspray, brought it all together an energetic finale. 

The school year is over, but the AVPA Java Gala is back in person, and the crowd gave them all the applause they deserved. 

Sophia Martin-Straw


The Actors' Gang