After One Year, Novick Replaces Lujan as AVPA’s Theatre DirectorBy Garth Sanders @ 4:00 PM June 21, 2012
Mr. Lujan After teaching Drama and English during her first year at Culver City High School, it was announced this afternoon that Jill Novick will replace Justin Lujan, appointed a year ago as Creative Director of Theatre for the school’s Academy of Visual and Performing Arts, the AVPA.
Mr. Lujan called the announcement that he is stepping down “bittersweet.” He said he still will be involved in teaching and directing with AVPA Theatre during the next year.
No reason was given for the change.
A New Yorker, Ms. Novick, who began acting as a child, said she was nurtured by a program similar to AVPA while attending Mamaroneck High School. The program was PACE, for Performing Arts Curriculum Experience. )
There she learned what it was like to bond with people of like minds and share a passion for the performing arts. Ms. Novick performed in two dozen musicals and plays. At 17, she was accepted into NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She also began working professionally, doing commercials. She left in her junior year to pursue her acting career, which spanned 20 years and included series-regular roles on Fox’s "Beverly Hills 90210" and NBC's "Sisters.”
In 2003, Ms. Novick returned to school to finish her degree. She spent two summers as a teacher and director at Cal State Northridge’s Teenage Drama Workshop, an intense six-week summer program. She also taught drama at Panorama High School while working on her teaching credential.
Now a fulltime teacher, Ms. Novick Jill is living another lifelong dream, to teach high school theatre and influence young artists in the development of their craft.
No stranger to the AVPA, she immersed herself into the program during the past year. She took theatre students to a spring Shakespeare Festival and was Troupe Director of Culver High’s Thespian Society. She taught two drama classes and the spring scene study class for AVPA. She also co-directed the spring musical, Sweeney Todd.
“Jill's background professional actress and her experience working with young people will be an asset to the entire AVPA program,” said Dr. Tony Spano, co-AVPA director.
Mr. Lujan issued a 360-word message to the community:
“This is a bittersweet announcement for me to make, not only the last of the year, as the seniors leave and everything comes to completion with the end of the school year, but it will be my last as Creative Director of Theatre.
“The department will be in truly great hands. Jill has been with us all year, helping me with the fall production of West Moon Street (when my wife had our second baby), she co-directed Sweeney Todd with Jon Kellum in the spring, she took our students to the Shakespeare Festival (where Olivia Finnegan placed fourth in two separate categories). She is the director of our International Thespian Troupe. She has been more and more involved with the students this year.
“I know this was a transition year. But we think this next transition year will be even better for the students. Jill is a fulltime teacher at CCHS, and that is what the students need. The Blurred Vision Theatre Company is a highly active and lively bunch. They will benefit from more full access to their Creative Director. Jill and I will continue to work closely together as I help familiarize her with the program, its continual growth and development. I will even be back in the fall to direct the first production of the season.
I want to thank all of you for your amazing, continual support of our talented students and stellar program. We could not be as successful without the time, effort, money, blood, sweat and tears that you have put into the program this year. I want to thank a few families: the Clarks, the Funnells, the Finestone/Dolans, the Goldshines and the Kinnon/Mitchells. This department truly thrives on the active family support and commitment to the students of AVPA Theatre. I greatly appreciated the help from all of you.
“Just know that with the continued support, our amazing Front & Center partners, the AVPA Foundation, and the AVPA Faculty, along with the extremely talented students of the BVTC, AVPA Theatre will continue to grow and flourish.
“Thank you again for the amazing year you gave me and all the students of AVPA Theatre. I'm glad that I even get to say: ‘See you in the fall.’”