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Upper School Drama Program

What sets us apart?

Welcome to the nationally renowned Upper School Drama Program at Greensboro Day School! The program is dynamic, challenging, artistically excellent, and has graduated students who have not only gone on to study theatre and musical theatre at some of the top collegiate Theatre programs in the country, but have had successful careers in the entertainment industry on and off Broadway, in National Tours, and in Film and Television.

With 3 full-time faculty members in the Upper School Theatre Department, our drama faculty is second-to-none a the high school level! They have worked professionally in their field, allowing them to pass on first-hand knowledge of their craft to their students. Working in close contact with our expert faculty, you will develop and sharpen your acting, singing and dancing skills. You will explore the theories of the craft and learn firsthand how to put those theories into practice. The GDS Theatre Department is an intensive course of study and performance, focusing on providing students with the knowledge, experience and exposure you need to build a successful career in college and beyond.

The Upper School Drama program has been recognized by the Educational Theatre Association (EdTA) as a National “Outstanding School” - given to up to twelve high schools with theatre programs that exemplify and promote high standards in educational theatre. We aim to provide students with opportunities to be seen by major college theatre programs as well as top-notch summer programs (including Triple Arts, UNCSA, Northwestern University's Cherubs, Interlochen, University of Michigan's MPulse, Boston Conservatory, Boston University, Carnegie Mellon, Broadway Artists Alliance, etc.)  

Our Theatre students graduate with not only major New York credits on their resume, but with the professional-level skills they need to be successful in the entertainment industry. They perform regularly in New York City and have been seen in exclusive, one-night only Broadway concerts including Ragtime (with Patina Miller, Lea Salonga and Norm Lewis), Parade (with Laura Benanti, Jeremy Jordan and conducted by Jason Robert Brown) and Crazy For You (with Laura Osnes, Tony Yazbeck and directed/choreographed by Susan Stroman). 

The department is housed in the beautiful, state-of-the-art Davison Center for the Arts. With a state of the art Black Box and Proscenium Theatre, it is truly the finest theatrical facility in the area. 

We welcome you to come visit and learn more about the top-notch work that goes on in the Greensboro Day School Theatre Department.  Come see what sets us apart!


Mission Statement

The educational theatre program at Greensboro Day School puts emphasis on the process and training for both performers and technicians. Students develop individual creative expression and communication skills through working in an ensemble setting. In this nurturing environment, the program provides opportunities to develop self esteem, time management, goal setting, and critical listening skills. The process subscribes to the highest levels of excellence, in which each part is vital to the whole.

Program Overview

The Upper School Drama Program's class offerings include Beginning and Advanced Acting, Show Choir/Cabaret (a Musical Theatre performance class), Musical Theatre History, Choreography/Direction, Stagecraft and Public Speaking.

The Upper School Drama Club meets throughout the year and has participated in activities such as the North Carolina Thespian Festival, NCTC, the GDS Fall Festival, community service performances, outings to shows around the state and, with an ongoing agreement with Manhattan Concert Productions, have performed in the ensembles of several highly acclaimed, one-night only Broadway performances at Lincoln Center. Our students have been seen in the Broadway ensembles of Ragtime (with Patina Miller, Lea Salonga, Norm Lewis and Kerry Butler), Parade (with Jeremy Jordan, Laura Benanti, Ramin Karimloo and Jason Robert Brown conducting) and the 25th Anniversary production of Crazy For You (with Laura Osnes, Tony Yazbeck and directed/choreographed by Susan Stroman).

The Drama Club is Troupe #6570 of the International Thespian Society (ITS), and any student involved in the drama program can qualify for induction, which are done at our annual Sloany Awards in the spring. There are also at least three extracurricular shows produced annually.

Upper School Technical Theatre students and Stage Managers not only work backstage, but can also enroll in a technical theatre program to qualify them for part-time jobs working with rentals in our popular Davison Center for the Arts.

Drama Department Faculty

Ruthie Tutterow (Director of Fine and Performing Arts) – In addition to GDS, Ruthie Tutterow has also taught at Morehead Elementary, Caldwell Academy, and has been an adjunct faculty member at Guilford Technical Community College and Salem College.  She has performed and directed professionally in theatres across the state including Triad Stage, Lees McRae Summer Theatre, North Carolina Theatre, Temple Theatre and in various community theatres as well. She has also been seen in films and commercials. Mrs. Tutterow has a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master of Fine Arts in Acting/Directing from UNC-Greensboro. She still enjoys acting when time permits—some recent roles have included Hattie in Kiss Me Kate, Parthy in Showboat, Phyllis Rogers Stone in Follies, Agnes in I Do! I Do!,  Emma Goldman in Ragtime, Jellylorum in Cats, and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.  Mrs. Tutterow and her husband Alan have 2 children: Kevin and Laura (GDS class of 2017). 

Denise Johnson (Director, Choreographer, Production Manager) - Denise Johnson is an award-winning, director, choreographer and performer. She has performed in, directed and choreographed shows at some of the top professional theatres in NY and across the country including The York Theatre Company, The Public Theatre, Second Stage Theatre, City Center Encores!, New World Stages, The North Carolina Theatre, Flat Rock Playhouse, Signature Theatre, Houston TUTS, St. Louis MUNY and The 5th Avenue Theatre. She was a featured performer with The Gatlin Brothers in several original shows, starred in the original musical Summer of '66 at The Crook and Chase Theatre, was a regular performer on TNN's "Crook and Chase" show and was a back-up vocalist for Curb Records recording artist Ronnie McDowell. Mrs. Johnson has been known as one of the top choreographers and show designers for competitive high school show choirs around the country and has worked extensively with over 30 high schools throughout the United States.  Her work has earned her over 150 National Championships, Grand Championships and Best Choreography awards and some of her groups were the inspiration for the popular TV show GLEE. She continues to be in high demand as an adjudicator and clinician, judging major show choir and theatre competitions and teaching high school and college level show choir camps and theatre master classes around the U.S. She is also a member of the Musical Theatre Committee for the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC). Studying Musical Theatre and Dance at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Mrs. Johnson and her husband, GRAMMY Award nominee, Marshall Johnson, have one child: Greta (GDS class of 2026). 

Dana Lowell (Technical Director, Set and Lighting Designer) – Dana Lowell started designing lighting for Greensboro Day School in 1988.  He enjoys coming up with unusual ways to create scenery and lighting and is a master of recycling materials to work in a variety of different ways throughout a season.  Some of of his favorite creations have been a spaceship set for the musical comedy Return to the Forbidden Planet and a car set for the musical All Shook Up. Mr. Lowell received his degree in design and technical theatre from UNCG.  He is often recognized as a late 1980's comedian and on-air host for the local TV show “Billy Bob’s Action Theatre” at WGGT-TV 48.  He lives in Greensboro with his wife Samantha, enjoys building radio control model tanks and playing with his son: Jack (GDS class of 2026). 


Rehearsals & Time Commitment

Rehearsals for Upper School productions are typically 6:30-9:30pm Monday-Thursday and 1:00-5:00 on Sundays (subject to change). This allows those who wish to do sports, choral groups and other after school activities to participate. The rehearsal period is 6-8 weeks for most shows. One Act or Improv shows will usually have a shorter rehearsal period.

Everyone is required to be present the final two weeks of rehearsals, which includes all dress rehearsals and all Technical rehearsals. The rehearsal schedule is given out at auditions.

Stage Managers have the same hours as the cast—they cover and run all rehearsals and run the show when it is in performance. Our Stage Managers attend a weekly Production Meeting at lunch and try to rotate rehearsal coverage until the final two weeks when all of them are required to be present. The backstage/running crew generally has a 2 week commitment to the show. They attend Dry Tech during pre-production as well as Tech rehearsal the weekend prior to the run of the show. They also attend all dress rehearsals and performances. 

The popularity of stage management and crew positions may necessitate some selectivity for positions. 

All cast and crew are strongly encouraged to help work on set construction after school or on Saturdays in the theatre as they are scheduled. 


Auditions are open to all upper school students. Roles are not precast! Experience is not required. All it takes is a willingness to get involved and show up!

Specific information regarding what to prepare for auditions will be announced prior to auditions. Our directors are available to help with audition selections and preparation. We want you to put thought into your audition – preparing material appropriate to the show you are auditioning for. We do expect that students who audition are open to playing any role they are cast in.

As we are casting — please have patience with us! This is a difficult and subjective process. We select the best person for the role based on their audition, regardless of seniority. However, when a decision is split, all things being equal, the role will go to the more senior student.

Pippin & Charlie Brown Auditions:

  • Tuesday, September 5th at 3:15pm. Check in is in the Kaplan Lobby.
  • Prepare one song or the best 16 bars of 2 contrasting songs appropriate to the show. Bring music in the correct key with accurate cuts.
  • Come prepared to dance! Girls - character heels are preferred. 
  • Bring your conflict calendar to the audition!
  • Callbacks - Thursday, September 7th at 3:15pm. Pick up callback packets by the end of the day on Wednesday from Denise Johnson.
  • Character breakdowns and scripts are available to read prior to the audition, upon request.

Charlotte's Web Auditions:

  • Tuesday, January 23rd at 3:15pm. Check in is in the Kaplan Lobby.
  • Prepare a 2 minute monologue.
  • Bring your conflict calendar to the audition!
  • Callbacks – Thursday, January 25th at 3:15pm. Pick up callback packets by the end of the day on Wednesday from Denise Johnson.
  • Character breakdowns and scripts are available to read prior to the audition, upon request. 


Parent Volunteers

We can’t put on a great show without you! Parent volunteers are always welcome. Major volunteer positions needed on productions include:

Costume Manager - heads up a team that accumulates, constructs and/or alters costumes, helps with cleaning and returning costumes after the show closes, etc.

Box Office - We need multiple volunteers to help sell tickets before each show. The MAD Society coordinates this. 

Sunday Snacks and Tech Dinner - We need multiple volunteers to help provide snacks and dinner items for Sunday afternoon rehearsals and Tech rehearsal. Also the Closing Dinner (a parent coordinates/hosts a closing night party).

Parent Blitz - Stop in and help us with the set, costumes, props, etc. 

MAD Society (Music Art, and Drama - Fine Arts Boosters)
The MAD Society is a booster group that supports the Music, Art and Drama departments at Greensboro Day School. For shows they are in charge of Box Office volunteers, concessions and the opening Night reception. 

For more information about the benefits of being a MAD member, click here.


The students in the GDS Theatre Department are given many opportunities to travel and have theatrical experiences around the country. With an ongoing agreement with Manhattan Concert Productions, we have been given the opportunity to join the ensembles of the highly acclaimed, one-night only Broadway concerts at Lincoln Center. Our students have been seen in the Broadway ensembles of Ragtime (with Patina Miller, Lea Salonga, Norm Lewis and Kerry Butler), Parade (with Jeremy Jordan, Laura Benanti, Ramin Karimloo and Jason Robert Brown conducting) and the 25th Anniversary production of Crazy For You (with Laura Osnes, David Yazbeck and directed/choreographed  by Susan Stroman).

Our International Thespian (ITS) Troup #6570 has received numerous Critics’ Choice Awards and “Superior” ratings at the NC Thespian Festival and has qualified for the National Thespian Festival in events like Musical Group, Musical Solo, Musical Duet and Stage Management.

We strive to provide our students with worthwhile experiences, both here at GDS and beyond, that will help them to grow as artists and as people. 

2017-2018 Upper School Season



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