DASOTA'S 25th Extravaganza

It was originally billed as a “Holiday Gift to Jacksonville.”
Started in 1986, Extravaganza is a Broadway-style production showcasing the talents of the students at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Jacksonville’s public high school for students with a passion for the performing and visual arts.
On February 12 at the Moran Theater, Extravaganza will celebrate its 25th anniversary. The program begins with an Art Gallery Exhibit at 6:30 pm followed by the theatre performance at 7:30 pm. As always, it’s open to the public. Tickets are available at the Moran box office and ticketmaster.com. The program features performances in dance, musical theatre, cinema, instrumental music, vocal music and creative writing.
Ace Martin, who has chaired the Instrumental Music Department since the school started in 1985, came up with the idea for Extravaganza “to give the students the chance to experience the highest level of a professional show.”
“I had worked as an Assistant Director of a group called Florida State University’s Showtimers and helped produce their show at Callaway Gardens,” says Martin. “And I wanted to do something similar in Jacksonville with our DA students.
“We held the first Extravaganza at the old Civic Auditorium, and I put up my own money for the production, praying that we would make enough in ticket sales to cover my nut.” It did, and Extravaganza has been playing to sold-out audiences ever since.
“Many of these DA students you will see performing in Extravaganza will pursue studies at the top universities, art institutes and conservatories in the world,” says principal Jackie Cornelius. “This is Jacksonville’s chance to see them perform before they launch their careers and go onto Hollywood and Broadway.”
Extravaganza moved to the Moran Theater six years ago to provide better visibility in the community, according to Martin.
“It’s always enthusiastically received,” says Martin. “And people always comment, ‘For this type of entertainment, we would pay three times the amount in Vegas or New York.’”
This year Extravaganza will include Broadway-style dance and vocal numbers; an orchestra performance of The Barber of Seville; a chorale rendition of KoKa, an eclectic piece from India; selections from the musical Aida; a touching student film called Departures; and an appearance by the nationally-recognized Douglas Anderson Jazz Ensemble.
Special guest performers include alumnus Delisco, who will be performing Michael Jackson’s hit, ‘Bad’ from his national touring show The Music of Michael Jackson. He will perform the number backed by DA dancers and the jazz band.
Also appearing via satellite is alum Ash Brannon, a Visual Arts major at DA who has gone on to write and direct Toy Story 2, Surf’s Up and A Bug’s Life. He’s currently directing the new animated film, Turkeys, starring Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson as animated turkeys who discover a time machine and travel back to the first Thanksgiving to take themselves off the menu.
“Extravanganza gives the students a great sense of accomplishment,” says Martin. “Our Tech Theatre students have a chance to work hand-in-hand with the professional crew at the Moran, and they learn the professionalism it takes to produce a large, Broadway-style show.Most have no clue of the level of foresight, communication and organization it takes to pull it off.”
“It’s neat to see my dream come true,” says Martin. “I had the concept for Extravaganza, but the other teachers bring their own uniqueness and creativity that make it a show that all Jacksonville residents will enjoy.”
Twenty-five years later, it’s still a gift to the city.