You may remember Cody Rutledge as mascot Pioneer Jake back during his high school days. Since then, the McMinnville native and WCHS Class of 2011 alumnus has had a successful career in the arts.
Back when Cody was a high schooler, the WCHS didn’t have a drama club or a local theater, but that didn’t stop him. Instead, he successfully petitioned to start the club and helped raise money for Park Theater while in Leadership.
“I remember driving a lot to Cannon County to the Arts Center,” reflected Rutledge. “That’s where I got my theater family and saw my first show – “Cinderella”. It makes me extremely happy Warren County students get opportunities that I didn’t have to be more prepared than I was.”
In college, Rutledge stayed busy with conferences and theater internships, including Cumberland County Playhouse and Summer Stock work at Central Piedmont Summer Theatre. He graduated from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre with a double emphasis in Musical Theatre and Technical Production.
So what is he up to now? Rutledge resides in Charleston, S.C. and works as the resident designer/ charge artist for Charleston Stage. He’s in his second year in the Acting Ensemble Company so he spends some time on stage too.
Last month, Cody portrayed Buddy the Elf in “Elf the Musical” at Dock Street Theatre. Several local families went to see his performance including the McKinley family.
“Cody has always been an entertainer and it is amazing to see the talent blossom from performing in our living room in McMinnville to the main stage in Charleston,” raved friend Kathryn McKinley. “I’m so proud to see him follow his passions and fully immerse himself in his talents and represent McMinnville so well.”
Although Rutledge enjoys performing, his favorite part of his job is the process of coming up with set designs. He has the opportunity to design and paint professionally all around the United States such as Rocky Mountain Rep in Grand Lake Colorado, Crane River Theatre in Nebraska, and more.
“I get to have fun and do things that haven’t been done before so the start of the design process gets my artistic gears turning,” said Rutledge.
As for sharing advice for local students who share a passionate for theater, Rutledge encourages involvement both on and offstage to understand the whole process.
“Being versatile is more likely to get you seen by producers,” explained Rutledge. “Be prepared and willing to better yourself. Get monologues in your back pocket ready to go and start voice lessons. Basically, don’t be defeated before you get in the room and approach it with a can-do attitude.”