High school performers prepare for big production

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Wave Staff Report

CULVER CITY — In an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to Culver City High School’s spring 2021 musical cabaret, all five of the school’s Academy of Visual and Performing Arts departments are playing a role in a big production coming to the small screen March 13.

“Hooray for Hollywood!” is a joyful journey through memorable movie moments. Sing-a-long favorites from such toe-tapping musicals as “Top Hat,” “Meet Me In St. Louis,” “Singin’ In the Rain,” “The Wiz” and “Hamilton” will be featured alongside iconic scenes from “Casablanca,” “The Godfather,” “Princess Bride” and “Star Wars.”

Tony Spano Jr., executive director of the academy and creative director of music, said “having to be creative and innovative has always been AVPA’s calling card. But now, with a pandemic and distance learning, we have had to navigate uncharted territory.

“But the unexpected outcome of having to work in this new way is that it has motivated us to collaborate even more than ever,” Spano added. “We have fostered unique opportunities for our students to be creative and work with each other — even if it’s across Zoom, or six feet apart.

“We have also explored technology in new ways to rehearse, to collaborate and to perform. Hooray for Hollywood is definitely our most innovative collaboration yet.”

Student Aliah Fabros said “Hooray for Hollywood!” was an opportunity to create, find inspiration and reap the benefits.

“Even though this is my third year in AVPA Theater and I am one of the company’s presidents, this is my first time performing in one of our spring musicals,” he said. “Though untraditional, the show was still rewarding and continued to grow my conviction that art is healing, freeing and worth every investment.”

The production required a lot of collaboration between departments. Holly Gable, creative director of film, said her department helped the theatre department of many of the musical pieces.

“We had several student directors shoot at the Wende Museum, outdoors on campus, and a sunset shoot on the beach,” she said. “Collaborating with Theatre is always a pleasure and we were grateful for the opportunity to be involved in this.”

Sophomore Trinity Fuller said “The show was an extremely new experience for us all, but in return we gained a lot of new skills. It was amazing working on ‘Hooray for Hollywood’ and I would do it all over again and again.”

Junior Vanessa Andrick called working on “Hooray for Hollywood” a very unique experience.

“It was lots of fun to work on some special scenes and songs we normally would have never been able to in the regular show format,” she said. “We had the opportunity to really dive deep into our own individual pieces.”

Lee Margaret Hanson, the director of “Hooray for Hollywood” and a theatre teacher, said that in difficult times like the pandemic people often turn to the arts for inspiration, comfort and support.

“I hope that this spring musical does just that for the Culver City community,” she said. “I hope it brings you joy and hope. I hope that it continues to show that the arts are an essential part of our lives and that we need them the most during the darkest of days.”

In addition to the theatre, music and film departments, dance and visual arts also participated in the production. The dance department choreographed the musical numbers, while visual arts designed the promo poster as well as art pieces that will be shown during musical number intervals.

“Hooray for Hollywood” will premiere at 7 p.m. March 13 and will be available for streaming anytime after. Go to www.avpa.org for reservations and more information.