Extravagant performances rock Ventura at 16th Festival of Talent


Credit: Grace Carey / The Foothill Dragon Press

Zach Castro

Credit: Grace Carey / The Foothill Dragon Press
Foothill senior Ethan Ambler performed in three acts in this year’s show. Credit: Grace Carey / The Foothill Dragon Press

As the auditorium of Ventura High School filled to the brim, children by the dozens ran about while the echoes of hollers and laughs washed over the crowd, until the lights slowly dimmed and they were ushered backstage to begin the show. Parents, teachers, friends, students, all members of the Ventura Unified School District community and more supported the artists that inhabit Ventura by attending this year’s 16th annual Festival of Talent.  

Every year Ventura calls upon all to share their talents and their passions to perform in The Festival of talent at Ventura High School. This year’s theme was “Rock The World” showcasing original pieces as well as covers from jazz to rock ‘n’ roll, as well as classical piano pieces and songs from Disney movies.

This year, a lot of emphasis was put on the diversity and unity found in Ventura. Through art and expression, many are able to express how they feel as well as what they love to do.

Each act was different, whether it was a dance duet, a powerful singer backed by their band, a piano performance, a Cuban band or a quick poem read aloud for all to enjoy. With so much inspirational talent flowing from powerful and diverse individuals, this year’s festival was one to remember.

Yet again, Don Wood was the Master of Ceremonies hosted the event, taking the stage in a wig, glasses, and a blow up guitar, playing to the beginning of “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne. The gracious and dedicated host has been doing this since the very beginning and is never failed to be impressed by the talent that Ventura has to offer as well as the participation and dedication.

“There’s great talent and I love it… To see the development of the performers is a neat thing when you’ve been here for a few years,” said Wood about the show and performers.



Credit: Grace Carey / The Foothill Dragon Press
The Festival of Talent seeks to highlight not only cultural diversity, but diversity in styles of performance art. Credit: Grace Carey / The Foothill Dragon Press

The whole show is performed inside the Ventura High School auditorium and looks very well directed and produced on the main stage of the high school. Back when the program first started, the creators of the show “just kind of made it up as [they] went along,” said Wood, “and now as you can see we have got a more professional looking show.”

The night began with a smooth performance by the jazz band Solstice, before the show officially started.

While people began taking their seats and settling down, proud parents boasted about their successful and talented kids until Ventura High School junior Cassidy Craig took the stage.

The first act of the night was a Gloria Estefan Mega Mix number performed by Craig and the Rubicon Harmonix featuring the Ventura Unified staff. With powerful vocals by Craig and a tight band to back her up, the Ventura Unified staff had some fun of their very own, dancing and shuffling to the music.

Foothill’s very own Ethan Ambler ’17 performed in multiple acts during the show, appearing in a duet, as well as with his crew “Common Groove” and in “Footloose” at the very end. His duet featured the idea of the relationship between the hunter and the prey in a freestyle performance with Buena High School senior Marcus Chavez.

When asked how long it takes to prepare for a performance such as this, Ambler answered nonchalantly with, “That was born of roughly two years of him and I, three to four nights in studio a week, just hangin’ out.”

Lisa West is the mother of Madison Jaffe, a senior at VHS and a singer who performed in the show. After years of dedication and encouragement from her parents, Madison has performed in the Festival of Talent and many other talent shows. “We’re very proud and excited for her and all the kids, they did such a great job they have so much talent,” said Lisa West.

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