The Las Vegas Academy of the Arts Turns 20
The Las Vegas Academy of the Arts has come a long way from its scrappy roots as an experimental magnet school on the old Las Vegas High School campus. One example: Last year the music department won its 10th Grammy Signature Schools Gold award, a national record. Considering that the original Fame school, New York City’s Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, has 45 years on it, LVA’s students have good reason to be singing “You ain’t seen the best of me yet.” [..]
Gubler speaks fondly of his alma mater, describing its atmosphere of acceptance, the encouragement he received from teachers and classmates, and the way the school’s audition process “weeded out all of the kids who were just phoning school in,” he says. “It’s this amazing, safe world. I was always surrounded by nothing but love and encouragement, which really allows you to flourish as a painter, a director, an actor, anything.” The native Las Vegan considers his time at LVA crucial to his later success.
[…]The Academy came along at the perfect time in my life,” Gubler says. “Really, it saved me and made me so excited to learn and so excited to be surrounded by people that were creative and very encouraging.”
MATTHEW GRAY GUBLER, CLASS OF 1998
Actor, Criminal Minds
You were the fifth class to graduate.
I was very blessed to go there during its formative years, when it was, in a sense, a bit of a risk. There were still a lot of rumors floating around about how the Academy wasn’t even a real school, or you couldn’t get into college if you went to the Academy because it wasn’t accredited. They were just scare tactics.
How was the reunion?
It reopened my eyes to what a special world that was. The kids who are going there now feel like the kids I went there with. Knowing it still exists is such a warm feeling.
What productions did you act in while you were at LVA?
I was very lucky—I got to be in a lot of them. I had to ride a unicycle when I played the Cat in the Hat in The Cat in the Hat—that was fun. I also played the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland and Jack/Ernest in The Importance of Being Earnest. We did a vaudeville show our freshman year. I got to host it, be a magician, and do some comedy skits. How often do you get back to Las Vegas? All the time; I still kind of live in Las Vegas. If it weren’t for the TV show, I would be living here full-time.