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D.C. Students Sing, Dance, Act To Protect Teachers' Salaries

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Duke Ellington School of the Arts is presenting a production of "Dreamgirls" in the hopes of raising funds to stave off arts cuts.
Jessica Gould
Duke Ellington School of the Arts is presenting a production of "Dreamgirls" in the hopes of raising funds to stave off arts cuts.

By Jessica Gould

They say there's no business like show business. And Duke Ellington School of the Arts Principal Rory Pullens hopes they're right.

"There's a budgetary shortfall for Duke Ellington this year, of nearly $1 million," he says.

Pullens says the D.C. public school may have to cut as many as 15 staff members because of the budget crunch.

But he has another plan: Ellington hopes to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars with its production of the musical "Dreamgirls."

The arts school even hired a Broadway director to make it happen.

"This is the most ambitious production we have ever engaged in in Duke Ellington's storied history," Pullens says.

More than 200 students are taking part in the production. Jumohny Walker is one of them. She says it's a lot of pressure, but she thinks the students can pull it off.

"This is Duke Ellington...Our teachers are professionals. And they're teaching us how to be professionals. I think we can handle anything. If you throw it at us, we can throw it back" Walker says.

"Dreamgirls" debuts Thursday night and runs through Dec. 18.

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