Monday, April 27, 2009

9 year old actress, Lauren Carlos

written by Lauren Carlos (Louise)

My name is Lauren Carlos and I'm 9 years old, and I am so excited to be part of this amazing show here at the 5th Avenue. My friend Keaton Whittaker and I both take turns playing Louise, the bratty daughter of Yvonne and Jules.

We worked a lot of long hours in the weeks leading up to opening night, and I can definitely say I've never learned so much from a production as much as this one! It has been so incredible seeing how bits and pieces of the show came together....I will always remember the first time I got to see how the scene "Putting it Together" looked on stage; with all the digital magic you almost don't know where to look first! My other favorite part was seeing the actors in their costumes and makeup for the first time; everyone looked like they'd stepped right out of the painting. (I think I'm glad I don't have to wear a bustle!)

I have to pinch myself whenever I realize I'm working side by side with the some of the best actors in Seattle as well as from Broadway. Keaton and I are even wearing the Louise costumes from Broadway! Everyone is so nice and really funny too - we have a lot of fun backstage. Keaton and I even have a quote list hung in our dressing room so we can write down and remember all the funny things people say.

Hugh Panaro gave us candy apple "Cromalumes" on opening night!

Keaton Whittaker, Hugh Panaro & Lauren Carlos

I hope everyone has the opportunity to go see Sunday in the Park With George, a show that I am really proud to be a part of. All the hard work that has gone into it, makes it really come alive and sparkle on stage!

Finishing The Hat - Nick DeSantis on his first role at The 5th

blog entry by Nick DeSantis (Franz/Lee Randolph)

On my very first show at The 5th Avenue:

I don't know how many auditions I have gone to where I have danced onstage at The 5th Avenue Theatre and looked out into that MASSIVE house and wondered what it would feel like to perform for an audience of over 2000 people on this stage - I finally got my chance to see what it's like! Now that I have, I'm not leaving. I'm never leaving. I'll just tuck myself up in a corner of the stage for Grease and stay there - they won't notice me I'm sure....I'll give myself big hair.

In all seriousness though - Sunday in the Park with George has been my favorite Broadway musical since I first saw it in my teens. I am profoundly moved EVERY time I see it (which is basically bi-monthly now that the DVD of the original broadway cast is available). I saw it on Broadway with Bernadette and Mandy, I saw it in Washington DC at The Kennedy Center with Raul Esparza and Melissa Errico and the DVD just stays on the shelf next to my TV so I can get a "Finishing the Hat" fix when I need it. I think it's a work that artists particularly, of any kind, can relate to in sort of a personal way. We've all had to sacrifice something to do what we do....time, money, a social life, whatever - so we've each, at some point, had to ask ourselves "why is it again that I love to do this?" Now that answer is, I'm sure, completely different for every artist, but we can all relate to the question as it is posed in the show. George can ONLY create art, to the exclusion of almost everything else in his life. When he sings "Finishing the Hat", he's trying to explain this very issue at the core of his soul - but the only concreate idea and words that he can come up with are simply that he has to Finish the Hat...and we kind of feel exactly what he means. It is such an honor for me to stand in the wings and hear Hugh Panaro sing this moving song so beautifully night after night. It's hard to keep my composure sometimes. Which can be a problem since the entire cast enters stage immediately after this song - and for any of us to be a blubbering mess might be a bit noticable.

One of the wonderful things about this experience is that this show holds such a dear place of almost everyone on the production team. Everyone is SO devoted and committed to creating a production that will do the work justice, it's a little overwhelming sometimes.

Actually, on that note - the first time we sang the Act I finale "Sunday," with a full orchestra, the sound and the emotion was so strong for each of us that many of the cast did begin weeping, myself included. I don't mean snivelly little soap-opera tears, but big, wracking, 7th-grader-who-didn't-make-cheerleader-after-practicing-her-pompom-routine-for-weeks-and-then-comes-home-to-find-her-puppy-ran-away sobs. I'm not sure but I think we might have frightened Ian Eisendrath (our impossibly talented music director and maestro) a little bit. Even though the tears have thankfully stopped, that moment at the end of the show as we all walk through "our" park one more time and inspire George to move ahead in his own life is one of the most personally gratifying and powerful things I have ever been given the privilege of doing onstage.

I hesitate to say this in an arena where it may come back to bite me, but if I never have the immense pleasure of doing another show at The 5th -or in my life really - this just might be enough.

Nah, that's stupid. I wanna do another!

Friday, April 24, 2009

a note from a board member

A note our board member emailed to staff today:

This is probably one of the most significant productions on our stage….ever! What a rare opportunity for our audiences to be able to experience the work of some of the major players in the musical theater world on our stage. The opening moments of Act I clearly indicate we are being taken on a journey into new visual territory. We are blessed with an abundance of riches during the entire production.

The cast, led by Hugh (George) and Billie (Dot), gives us some incredible moments of ensemble work. It is hard for me to imagine how 15 actors can create such glorious music. Surely they are inspired by the full orchestration led by Ian (Musical Director)'s capable baton and 11 enormously talented musicians. I can only imagine how this production will improve during its run.

I continue to see and hear new elements of the show with each new viewing which make me want to see it again and again. The controlled composition of this show makes me appreciate the contribution made by every single element. In many ways I believe the show is somehow greater than the sum of its parts.

I understand a show like this is a risk, but I believe we have an obligation to our audience and to the talented pool of artists who work in the world of musical theater. We are developing more informed patrons and sending a message to our working actors that we recognize our mission and obligation to the community.

I am so proud to serve The 5th Avenue,

George excitement!

We thought we'd post some interesting preview pieces & audience feedback that relate to Sunday in the Park with George, which opened last night and runs through May 10th.

George & all things orchestral
Ian Eisendrath (musical director) and Hugh Panaro (George) chatted with Misha Berson

Misha Berson (Seattle Times) Theater Review: Mad Scientists, Quirky Painters and Accordions

Billie Wildrick (Dot)
Seattle Examiner interviews Billie Wildrick (Dot)
Slideshow of Billie Wildrick in a selection of 5th Avenue Theatre roles

Steve Wiecking interviews Sam Buntrock (director)
A walk in the park

Seattle Weekly Preview Piece

The Stranger Preview Piece

Audience comments are rolling in:

"Loved beautiful...and the voices were fantastic!"

"My mom and I had the most amazing time at Sunday in the Park with George last night. What an incredible show! We LOVED it- no understatement. Lets just say there were tears."

"An awesome production, full of surprises and subtlety and very well performed."

"I saw this show last night and was BLOWN AWAY...relevant and interesting. This show is unparalleled."

Leonard Bernstein called his friend Sondheim's show "brilliant, deeply conceived, canny, magisterial, and by far the most personal statement I've heard from you thus far. Bravo."

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dot's Thoughts

written by Billie Wildrick, Dot
Now that everything is staged, we have our first full work-through today. Our run-throughs start this weekend!

Yesterday we said a very fond "bye-bye-safe-journey-thanks-for-the-incredible-musical-staging-hope-to-see-you-soon!" To Christopher Gattelli. I think Christopher is special not only because of his truly inspired musical staging but also because of his kind, hopeful, supportive, supremely non-judgemental countenance. I loved doing work with Christopher behind the table because he made it so evident and tangible that he wanted me to succeed and he wanted to do whatever he could to help bring my character to a fully realized, specific life. I am so happy and grateful that he is "in the Park" with us. (And happy that his assistant Lou Castro has joined us now too!)

I could go on with the love-fest of course, but suffice it to say I want to save all the "miis" involved to perpetually play "wii theatre" (oo - somebody should program that game!). Now where is the slow button on my life remote?