(Media release from Rome, GA City Schools):

A video and essay detailing how students in Rome High’s Theatre Department love what they do and the inclusivity the department brings helped land the group on a select list of schools nationwide in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Broadway classic musical “A Chorus Line”.

“We found out about the competition in February. My booster club president actually told me about it,” Rome Drama Theatre Director Alexis Tyson says. “We produced a video, and we also had to write a 1,000-word essay.”

For both of those elements, it didn’t take much inspiration.

“The focus of the video was on the students’ experiences within theater and how this department is very accepting. We have students from all different walks of life. They all come together to make some really cool art. They talked about the accepting nature of the department and how much they loved doing what they do,” Tyson says.

Along with making the video and writing the essay, Tyson had the students begin watching the show.

“The kids were especially excited. I told them we were going to enter this competition, and they have been watching the show and talking about it a lot in musical theater class,” Tyson says. “It’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning show, and this is its 50th anniversary. It’s a story about a bunch of dancers’ true stories and their experiences of trying to get to the top level of performance. The kids have really latched on to the story.”

Entering the competition and talking and learning about the show increased the excitement level. On Wednesday, when the students learned they had been selected as one of 10 winners nationwide in the competition, they were elated.

“When they found out that we won the competition, it was icing on the cake,” Tyson says.

The competition was open to all high schools, with Title I and other under-resourced schools especially encouraged to enter. Schools entering were asked to complete a written application that included an essay on the prompt: “What makes your students singular sensations?” Video entries could be included as well. Concord Theatricals hosted the competition, One Singular Sensation: “A Chorus Line” Licensing Competition, to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of “A Chorus Line” and the 80th anniversary of its late composer Marvin Hamlisch’s birth.

Winners were chosen based on a variety of factors, including financial need and answer creativity, with selected schools receiving a three-performance licensing package and all rental materials free of charge. Winning performances are required to be scheduled between June 2024 and December 2025.

“When I finished reading the submissions, I felt a sense of joy that these schools pursue theater—giving their students moments to shine and feel seen—with the smallest of budgets, but so much energy and enthusiasm,” said Bill Gaden, president of Concord Theatricals, in a statement. “The dedication and resourcefulness of the students, parents, teachers and volunteers is truly inspiring. I am so pleased that Concord can help these dedicated theater makers to bring the arts to their communities.”

Tyson says the department plans to perform the show in March 2025. She also says there are plans in the work to have some dance lessons for those wanting to polish up their skills ahead of time.

“One of the things we’re doing is that we are offering low-cost dance classes in April starting at the high school, so more kids can be exposed to the technique of dancing,” Tyson says. “Dance classes are so expensive, and it’s often a barrier to take lessons. Hannah Camacho, our choreographer, has graciously offered to host these classes for Rome High kids to be exposed to that and be more successful for the show.”

And now the department’s students who helped win the competition get to be even more excited, as they prepare to put on the show next school year.

“I just think there is such a human element to this story. I’m so excited that the students will get to be in it. This is something I never thought I would be able to give my students,” Tyson says. “A show like this was not in our sights two years ago.”