In the early 1990s, Ruthie Tutterow played the part of Diana in “A Chorus Line” at the High Point Theatre.
“I absolutely love this play and its underlying message,” Tutterow said. “Just talking about it makes me emotional.”
Now, 20-plus years later, Tutterow is bringing the acclaimed musical to the Greensboro Day School stage Nov. 10 through 13. Tutterow, who is directing the show, is the director of fine and performing arts at the school.
“I actually had thought about doing it about 10 years ago but changed my mind due to content issues,” she said. “This year, a high school revision of the play is being offered, so we are able to do it with some modifications to the content.”
Because the play still contains some language and mature subject matter, the show is rated PG-13.
Set in 1975, the musical depicts a group of performers auditioning for a Broadway show and the emotional ups and downs they each face. “A Chorus Line” was created from the life experiences of actual Broadway dancers and won the Tony for Best Musical, as well as the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
“We get to see these auditionees putting themselves on the line for a chance to be on Broadway,” Tutterow said. “Some of them make it; some of them don’t, but they are all willing to try with all their heart and soul.”
The actors sing “What I Did for Love,” expressing that the effort is worth it no matter what.
“What a great metaphor for life — go after your goals, understand that there will be challenges and be willing to try,” Tutterow said.
The cast is composed of 24 Greensboro Day ninth- through 12th-graders, with about another 25 students involved with set construction, crew or orchestra.
Many, not all, of the actors in the show have previous dance and singing experience or have been in plays before.
“What I love about high school theater is that it is an opportunity to try something out of your comfort zone,” Tutterow said. “So the actors with more experience in those areas help the ones who are newer to the process, and they are able to all achieve at a high level.”
Choreography is by Denise Johnson, with set and lighting design by Dana Lowell, and musical and orchestral direction by Garrett Saake.
Parent volunteers are working to find, purchase and make the costumes for the show, and the school is renting gold finale costumes.
Greensboro Day’s athletics trainer Jon Schner, has worked with the performers and talked to them about treating their body well.
“This is a very physical show, and students who aren’t athletes or dancers have really had to work on building their dance technique and stamina,” Tutterow said. “Students do extensive warmups and have to think about nutrition, hydration and stretching, as well as cool downs, icing or taping when necessary.”
The students have been rehearsing for the show since Sept. 11.
“The kids rise to the challenge and expectations we set for them, and they are absolutely brilliant,” Tutterow said. “We work with them as individuals to help them navigate the process, and it is incredibly rewarding and exciting when their show is a success.”
Tutterow hopes each of the participants in the play gain confidence and an understanding that when a challenge is hard, they can work through it and accomplish something incredible.
“I hope they gain an understanding that they can take risks, as well as learn how to collaborate with others and work in an ensemble, manage their energy and time for a collective goal and let their guard down on stage and see the power in being vulnerable,” she said.
“Many of our alumni have gone on to study theater in college and now have professional careers in music, acting and technical theater, and others have used their high school theater experiences as preparation for careers in law, teaching, business and other fields.”