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Taking a bow from the director’s chair
Hundreds of actors and nearly 90 performances in, longtime Sequim High School operetta and theater director Christy Rutherford recently retired after 18 years.
Rutherford signed off on her last directing gig this November with Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
The high school hired her originally for the spring operettas, but 10 years ago she took on the fall all-school play and wintertime senior play. The operetta on average takes 12 weeks to prepare and eight to 10 weeks for the other plays.
“Sometimes, I’m here more than at home in the school year,” she joked.
Rutherford grew up interested in community theater.
“Theater really did change my life,” she said. “I was so shy growing up, but I realized I could come out of my shell.”
The local opportunity came when the school needed a director for the spring operetta, “Little Mary Sunshine.” She applied and won the job with eight directing gigs under her belt from church and community theater in Bellevue and Oregon. Rutherford said in Sequim she chose clean family entertainment and consulted with students about what interested them. This year’s actors were mostly new, so she chose “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” because it’s one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.
“I tried to think of the kids coming in each year,” she said. “I chose something to excite them and make them want to stay with acting.”
She led about 50 productions for Sequim High School and another 40 with Peninsula Family Theater. Her efforts helped win accolades for students at the Fifth Avenue High School awards in Bethel for acting and costuming.
Rutherford found almost every performance to be her favorite.
“I’ve loved the kids. Every time I lose a group of kids to graduation, I would get a new one just as bright and excited,” she said.
Six of Rutherford’s 11 children were involved with school plays.
“Theater has the potential to help youth and adults get outside of themselves,” she said.
Robin Hall, current senior play director, started helping Rutherford with productions at the same time.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Hall said. “Of course there’s the stress the last two weeks of every show, but it’s fun to audition and see them glow. We’ve seen some really great kids go on to do some great things.”
The duo built up the small productions over time and recruited more parents and community members to help. Hall said Rutherford is a great costumer and seamstress and the costumes always stood out and looked good.
“This is very bittersweet,” Hall said. “I’ve so enjoyed working with Christy. She needs a break and then I’d like to do something with her in community theater. I can’t see her not being involved in some regard.”
New choir director John Lorentzen has stepped up to take on the operettas with his wife, Laura. They worked together at Reed High School in Sparks, Nev., directing the school’s musical theater program for several years. He told the Gazette they are excited about the opportunity.
Rutherford said she’s excited to see him introduce students to music and help them appreciate wonderful music.
She recently accepted a job with the Women’s Information Network as a part-time event director setting up summer events for business leaders and local women to discuss issues affecting women in the area.
The stage isn’t out of her entirely. She and Hall plan to help with the operetta “The Music Man.”
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.