Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The world of Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story, The Musical! is very different from life today.

Televisions were very rare. Instead, radios and newspapers provided an information lifeline for Americans. Whole families gathered around the radio to listen to news broadcasts and popular programs like “Little Orphan Annie,” quiz shows, mysteries, dramas, music and sports.

Before Harry Potter, Ralphie and his friends might have read books like Daniel Boone and Make Way for Ducklings. But one of the most popular forms of entertainment was found at the local movie house where films like National Velvet, Lassie Come Home, Flash Gordon, Roy Rodgers and Superman costs about 25 cents and included a cartoon. A candy bar costs five cents.

Because personal computers were decades away from being conceived, there were no cell phones or email, Xbox or Wii. One of the earliest computers, the ENIAC was completed in 1945; it weighed 30 tons and was two stories high. A small portion of the computer is pictured to the left. Many of the toys, activities and historic events mentioned in A Christmas Story, The Musical! are unheard of today.

Here is a brief glossary to help you better understand Ralphie’s world.

Red Ryder BB Guns were the preference of Red Ryder, a fictional comic book cowboy in the 1940s, but the Red Ryder air gun, with its lever-action, spring piston, smooth-bore barrel, adjustable iron sights, and a gravity feed magazine with a 650 BB capacity was a real product and highly desired by many American boys. The Red Ryder Range Model Carbine Action BB Gun in the movie A Christmas Story was a fictional model from Jean Shepherd’s’ imagination; it included components like a compass and timepiece which were never a part of a Red Ryder prototype. The “Buck Jones” Daisy air rifle did have a compass and sundial in the stock and could have served as an inspiration.

To see Ralphie, played by Clarke Hallum, sing a song about how much he wants a Red Ryder BB Gun, watch the video clip below.

The Little Orphan Annie Show was one of the first 15-minute daily radio serials made for children. The show was sponsored by Ovaltine and ran from 1930 to the early 1940s. It was inspired by the daily American Comic strip by Harold Gray about a young orphan girl, her dog, Sandy, and her guardian Daddy Warbucks. They encounter many adventurous predicaments sometimes including gangsters, spies and kidnappers. The show was also known for its opening theme song sung by Pierre Andre.

Ovaltine is a brand of milk flavoring created in 1904 in Switzerland and is still available today. The powdery mix, made of sugar, malt extract, cocoa and whey, is often mixed with warm or hot milk. As a sponsor for “The Little Orphan Annie Show”, Ovaltine offered secret decoder rings in exchange for proofs of purchase.

Decoder rings similar to this one were all the rage during the golden age of radio, lending an air of participation to popular radio shows like “Little Orphan Annie”.

Shirley Temple Dolls were manufactured by Ideal Toy and Novelty Company and were fashioned after Shirley Temple, the child star known for her films like Bright Eyes, Heidi and The Little Princess.

Lionel Trains were electric toy trains and model railroads that were embellished with hand-painted details and authentic elements. Elaborate train displays were often featured as part of department store Christmas displays and a Lionel train set was routinely found under the tree on Christmas morning. This photo is of an all-metal Lionel steam engine from around 1938-1942.

The Dionne Quintuplets, born in Canada in 1934, were the first female identical quintuplets to survive infancy. While multiple births are today subjects of television shows like “Jon and Kate Plus 8”, 75 years ago, they were a medical rarity. From their birth, public interest in the Dionne quints was insatiable. The babies became a popular phenomenon and were put on display to the public. Dolls and other souvenirs were created and sold with their likenesses.

Open Road for Boys was a popular boy’s outdoor adventure fiction magazine from 1919 to 1950 that featured advertisements for model airplanes and Red Ryder products.

Jujubes were a candy drop created in 1920 and are still available today. Originally it was a hard candy that you had to suck on and the original flavors were lilac, violet, rose, spearmint and lemon.

-Used with the permission of Kansas City Repertory Theatre

Walt Spangler Gets in the Spirit of “A Christmas Story”

When A Christmas Story: The Musical! was slotted to take the stage in Kansas City last winter, Walt Spangler accepted the task of designing a set for the fun-filled musical. This season, the show about 9-year-old Ralphie Parker and his quest for the Christmas present of his dreams is coming to Seattle with Spangler’s design in tow. Inspired by a brand new score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Spangler has adapted and enhanced his design to suit The 5th Avenue Theatre’s vast house. This is not the first time Spangler’s designs have graced The 5th’s stage. Loyal patrons may remember his eye-popping sets for both Mame (2008) and On the Town (2010) and can look forward to seeing his work in Oklahoma (2011).

Audience members can expect a grand set with magically quick transitions and plenty of beautiful pieces to please the eye. “I really enjoy fantastical, very imaginative, very theatrical ideas…(the show) offers a nice combination where there are some scenes that are very theatrical and vivid and colorful. And then there are scenes, especially in the house, that really pull you back down to a sense of almost Norman Rockwell holiday intimacy.” Because the setting changes so often, Spangler strove to create a design that matches the pace and the rhythm of the music, as well as maintains a cinematic flow to echo the feeling of the film.

The first step in Spangler’s process of recreating the world of the Parker family for the stage was to re-watch the iconic movie. The film premiered in 1983 when Spangler was a teenager, and he soon became one of its countless annual viewers. “Getting the opportunity to design it, I already felt like I was ahead of the game because I was so familiar with the story.” he reminisced.

However, there was an aspect of the musical that the film could not prepare him for: The Jean Shepherd Show. “(The musical) begins in a 1960s radio station as a story that’s being told on the radio by a man and a bunch of foley artists. The idea is to visualize that for the audience so we have a framework that suggests the 1960s radio station, and then when we open up the curtain we reveal onto the world of Hohman, Indiana back in the 1940s.” Spangler was inspired by many elements when creating the town. The Higbee’s Department Store Santa Land plays a crucial part in some pivotal moments of the show so Spangler felt the need to integrate it throughout. Furthermore, when watching the movie, he was struck by the constant blanket of snow enveloping the town. Spangler and his team decided they wanted to frame the town in a frozen blizzard, “seen through the eyes of a Higbee’s Department Store decoration.”

More importantly, Spangler calls on his own yuletide memories to put a personal stamp on the town. “I really love when you go get the Christmas tree, and when I grew up we did that as a family ritual. We actually didn’t purchase Christmas trees because we had family who lived up in the mountains of Virginia and they had a lot of pine trees on their property, so we as a family – my mother, my father, my sister and I – would drive up at some point right after Thanksgiving and get a Christmas tree. We’d go get it, find it, cut it down, and bring it back! That really is my favorite part of the pre-holiday season, more so than the actual day of Christmas which is usually much more chaotic and hectic. And that’s the way it is in the show.” Spangler uses his own family’s holiday aesthetic and traditions to adorn the Parker’s home: a mix of heirloom and hand-made ornaments, a homemade table cloth on the dining room table for a special Christmas spread, and a medley of wrapped and unwrapped gifts beneath the tree.

Spangler is confident that A Christmas Story: The Musical! will appeal to those who have never seen the movie and to die-hard fans alike. He was careful to include the memorable landmarks from the film while keeping in mind the demands of a live show. Ultimately, it’s the spirit of the season that will make audiences fall in love. “It’s one of those things where we all have our memories. I think that certainly my memories of Christmas are classic American ones. [The audience] will be reminded of their own family and that’s the point of the show. It’s very much about family and the relationship and the ups and downs of the family but then ultimately Christmas gels it all together. It makes everyone realize how much they appreciate their family members.”

-Lauren Smith, Education Intern, The 5th Avenue Theatre

To get just a taste of the gorgeous set design, watch this short clip from A Christmas Story the Musical, as the cast sings the title song, "A Christmas Story".

5 Musical Theater Terms You Should Know

1. Eleven o’clock number—A show tune which provides a big finish shortly before the musical ends.
2. Entr’acte—1. Orchestral opening to the second act of a musical; 2. A dance, musical number or interlude performed between the acts of a play
3. Libretto—Text of an opera or musical
4. Sitzprobe—A seated rehearsal where the singers sing with the orchestra, focusing attention on integrating the two groups. It is often the first rehearsal where the orchestra and singers rehearse together.
5. Wandelprobe—When singers go through the actions (wander) on stage while the orchestra plays.

10 Questions + One with Justin Paul and Benj Pasek

1. Where do you find inspiration?

Justin Paul (JP)—As a person? From my wife -- I don't think I could do what I do without her. And from my amazingly supportive family -- my dad, mom, brother, but also my grandparents, aunts and uncles, the whole lot of them -- they are all my heroes. Truly. And creatively, I suppose I find it in other artists who are passionately driven and insanely talented. I've been lucky enough to work with some people who are true geniuses at what they do, and it is humbling and inspiring in so many ways. And while I'm on the subject of inspiration, I gain so much of it from my faith, my spiritual beliefs. Whenever I'm feeling empty, I know I can always fill up on God.

Benj Pasek (BP) —Sitting in coffee shops and observing people. I love wondering why they do what they do, think what they think and say what they say.

2. Which artist’s work do you most admire and why?

JP—One single artist? I could never pin down one! In terms of musical theatre writing, I'd say the old cliché of worshipping Stephen Sondheim. That's definitely true for me. But there's actually a few other songwriters/arrangers that I would say have been so influential on my feelings towards music, and on writing music, that I truly admire them the most. Stevie Wonder -- possibly the greatest songwriter in the past 50 years or more. And there's a lesser-known guy, a guy by the name of Rob Mathes, who is a music director/arranger/pianist/songwriter/vocalist. He's insane. I want to grow up to be him. I sit and listen to his music and one half of me wants to go out and write a symphony. The other half wants to go into dentistry.

BP—Those who expose the ugly, beautiful and fascinating parts of themselves and their larger world through their work.

3. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

JP—Well, I didn't know Rob Mathes at the time, so it wasn't him. I always thought I'd end up as a lawyer or politician. All the way up to my senior year of high school, I was looking at colleges to go to where I could do some kind of pre-law work. I was always fascinated by the legal system, by our government, and I was one of the thousands of kids who thought he could be president one day. Or at least vice president.

BP—I'm still trying figure that out… but maybe I'll be a fireman one day, or a figure skater.

4. Who is your real life hero and why?

JP—I said it earlier -- but I'll say it again: my family. My wife, who is the most solid, dependable, creative, brilliant person I've ever met. I'm astonished by her every day. And my parents—they were strong but not demanding, unconditionally supportive of what I wanted to pursue, and they modeled a way of living that I'm still striving to achieve. They passed down traditions of faith and morality that I'm so thankful for. They are my heroes... because at the end of the day all that life stuff is a heck of a lot more important than writing show tunes, right?

BP—My mom and dad. They taught me to see what could be rather than what is.

5. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

JP—Well, I'm hoping that I haven't achieved it yet! But thus far, I'm really proud of the scores we've written, and of the collaboration and friendship Benj and I have formed as writing partners. But as far as accomplishment goes -- it's up to my wife. If she says I have been a good husband, then that would really be the greatest accomplishment I could claim so far in my life. Being a good husband, being a good father. Those are my goals in terms of accomplishments. Only time will tell.

BP—Surviving middle school

6. What is your idea of perfect happiness?

JP—Perfect happiness is living where I can see the water, being in a funk band that plays at local clubs just for fun, having a happy home and happy family, and writing musicals that mean something to people. Aaahhh…

BP—Eating Thai food and playing running charades with the people I love.

7. What do you most fear?

JP—Drowning. Not pursuing opportunities aggressively enough. Running out of ideas.

BP—Crocodiles, serial killers, and falling short of personal goals.

8. What is the trait you love most about yourself?

JP—While it makes me a somewhat intolerable person, I really enjoy the organization and structure of my life. I like that I make to-do lists practically every day, and I have my entire life scheduled in my iPhone, which immediately and remotely syncs to both of my computers. I'm happy to be a hyper-structured person. It just makes living with me a very difficult task.

BP—My spontaneity.

9. What is the trait you hate most about yourself?

JP—I hate that I cannot stop eating cookies and pies and cupcakes. I really, really hate it. I have the most horrible sweet tooth, the most awful gluttonous spirit when it comes to food and dessert. And I know I'm doing something wrong, there is just this place deep within me that demands more and more. It's absolutely an addiction.

BP—Being disorganized. I'm working on that though...

10. What is your most treasured possession?

JP—Three things: 1) This one isn't actually mine... it's my parents' baby grand piano. I like to think we share it; it just permanently lives at their house. But it was at this piano where I spent a large portion of my childhood. 2) I have a collection of notes, cards, and sweet messages my wife has left me since the time we first started dating. I cherish these. 3) My Bible. While it's certainly true that I don't read it enough, I could never live without it.

BP—Old photo albums.

11. What do you love most about musical theater?

JP—I love the storytelling and I love the invitation to suspend the rules we've lived by for just a few hours and transport to a different world. The coolest thing about musical theater is that every story we see up on the stage is ours -- it resonates, it relates, it reminds of something or someone from our own life. And yet we don't realize because we're watching something magical and out of this world. Characters sing big productions, giant sets move on and offstage, animals come to life, magic is real -- and we buy it all. Because we know that underneath it all is a story that feels as natural and familiar to us as the conversation we had yesterday with a friend or the journal entry we wrote last night. I love being deceived into thinking I'm watching something other-worldly, but then reminding myself that it couldn't be more like my life.

BP—That you get to capture memories and stories in songs.

Watch the video below to hear a portion of the song "Somewhere Hovering Over Indiana", written by Pasek and Paul.

Memories of Jean Shepherd by -Lorraine McConaghy, Professor of Museum Studies, University of Washington

Jean Sheperd. Photo by Fred W. McDarrah (above)

As a girl my transistor radio – a pale beige plastic box with rounded edges – first opened nighttime worlds to me. My Uncle Charles, a dashing bachelor, drove out to our tract house in northern New Jersey each Christmas from his New York apartment. Even as a child, I saw his sophistication, his polished and urbane contrast to my parents. And he always gave me Christmas gifts I really wanted. One year, it was a subscription to Seventeen magazine. Another year, a gift certificate to Bloomingdale’s. Each year, each gift, my mother frowned and shook her head. But finally, in 1959, I unwrapped my own transistor radio, with the batteries already installed, and took my transistorized Nutcracker to my little pink bedroom and closed the door. In the Christmas afternoon’s deepening twilight, with snow drifting past the window, I began to explore the world through my radio. Those parts of the world, at least, that boasted a strong enough signal. It was great. I learned that there were alternatives to our drab suburban life of meatloaf, layoffs and property taxes.
I especially liked listening to the radio after dark, in my bed – the house was still, my imagination worked better and so did the reception. I pressed my face to the transistor radio on my pillow, so that my mom wouldn’t hear that I was still awake, listening to “that damn thing.” Occasionally, I could get stations from Philadelphia, Washington, DC and Wheeling, West Virginia – I’d hold my breath so I could hear better. I heard my first gospel, my first jazz, my first folk music. But radio was much more than music. I also heard my first John Birch Society member, my first Marxist, my first holy roller. And, boy, did I listen. My transistor radio opened the world for me.
My first great AM radio love was Jean Shepherd, who broadcast out of a New York studio on WOR. I stumbled on him, just cycling through the stations, and after that, I listened to Shep’s show every night. He seemed to be speaking just to me, in the dark, over the transistor radio, creating an extemporaneous and magical story. I thought of him much differently as a kid than I do now. Jean Shepherd was a brilliant American humorist and writer, a gifted monologist, an uncompromising social critic and a Renaissance man of many skills and interests. But back then, he was just Shep. He had grown up in Hammond, Indiana, and remembered the town, its people and himself with penetrating insight.
Shep began so many radio stories, “So I’m this kid, see…,” and his voice was warm and confiding. And then he would weave a story before the eyes of my imagination – his mom stirring a pot in the stove wearing her rump-sprung chenille robe, his dad doing battle with the coal-fired furnace, his kid brother sobbing quietly under the kitchen sink, his teacher Miss Shields, the neighborhood bully Scut Farkus, and his pals Flick, Bruner and Schwartz. Shep invoked Ovaltine promos, a guy’s batting average, freezing your tongue to a metal pole on a triple-dog dare, gazing at the allure of a lamp modeled as a woman’s leg, ads from Popular Mechanics – “Do you really know any popular mechanics?”, he would ask, “I mean, really? Are there any, anywhere?” And then he would chuckle, a deeply amused and knowing rumble. He moved easily back and forth between being a kid and being a grownup, exploring the mutually incomprehensible terrain. Shep could convince me that a Red Ryder BB gun was a kid’s holy grail, and that grownups just didn’t get it. “You’ll shoot your eye out!”, they all said, foolishly. But there it was, under the Christmas tree. As a kid myself, I felt liberated by Shep’s triumph but, after all, his dad did buy the gun for him and he nearly did shoot his eye out. Life, I learned from Shep, was nicely complicated.
Jean Shepherd was a satirist who mined his own life to develop his art, and his humor was benevolent and wise, endearing and enduring. And so we are drawn to the gentle satire of “A Christmas Story,” which Shep was working on in his monologues when I began listening to him in 1959, on my little transistor radio. For all of us, Jean Shepherd is the voice of our childhood and somehow, also, the voice of our adulthood. We see both, through his eyes, and we just have to smile and shake our heads.

Adapted from “Waves and Signals: Greenwich Village and Jean Shepherd,” originally published in Humanities Washington’s Port, 1999, with many thanks to Humanities Washington.

Monday, November 29, 2010

First dress rehearsal with Sarah Davis

Tonight is our first orchestra dress rehearsal! I will probably be watching from the balcony to get a different perspective of the show.
A friend of mine is in town and she is also swinging on a tour right now and she thought my little color coordinated books for the actors were amazing and super organized! Score! The more I watch the show the more I fantisize about going on for Miss Shields... Sadly, I'm not the Miss Shields understudy ( but I have all her blocking down just in
case!) I'm pretty sure if I ever went on for Miss Shields for some odd reason I would just be playing Carol Swarbrick as Miss Shields, which could also be quite hilarious. Carol Swarbrick is a complete genius. She is the most hilarious woman on and off stage and no one should miss this opportunity to see her in the show.

We have our first preview Friday and it occured to me that I need to be just as prepared to perform Friday as the rest of the actors, which is slightly frightening because that means mastering all 6 tracks but I have no doubt that I would be ready and I know my cast would help me out.

Starting with our first dress tonight I will start to really focus on one track at a time because now I have all 6 written down and it's time to really follow one at a time, and I'm finding that to be the hardest part of being a swing at this point. I have so many details and notes flying through my head that it's hard to focus on one thing at a time...
(point being made... I just got distracted writing this because three ensemble members dressed as elves just did the single ladies dance on stage... I love it here) and I could write a whole blog on how fabulous Clarke Hallum is as Ralphie... But sadly I do not cover him so I will save my gushing for later.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tech week with Sarah Davis

Tech week went really well... We finished up our 10 out of 12s yesterday and we got through the whole show! Amazing! It's so much fun to watch and I'm amazed that it is still hilariously funny to me and I've seen it so many times. Sitzprobe was Sunday....there are no words for how beautiful the arrangments are! Ian wanted Jared and I too sing along with the ensemble which was really fun. I can't lie though...
It's very different sitting in the house watching for 12 hours as opposed to being onstage the whole time. Both are exhausting in very different ways. I'm certainly getting a whole new perspective on being an actor though... Being able to watch how everything comes together on the stage and taking that step away from it all to look at the big picture has been really interesting. My tracking books are coming together though ... Almost all caught up with writing all the entrance and exits and such, but as expected things are changing so I will keep updating them.

This is Sarah Davis’ method to swinging the show – a
different color highlighter for every track she’s covering.

A Swing-ing Blog!

We've asked our Male and Female Swings, Jared Michael Brown and Sarah Davis to give us a backstage perspective on what it means to be a Swing in a brand new show like A Christmas Story: The Musical! First, get to know Jared with this fun journal entry from last week's tech rehearsals.

We’re underway with day four of tech rehearsals for ‘A Christmas Story,’ starting Act II this afternoon and hopefully wrapping up the entire show before tomorrow at 11:30pm. I can tell you, from my seat in Row J, orchestra right, it’s been a whirlwind of a tech rehearsal process. This will be my second experience here at the 5th Avenue Theatre, but my first main stage show I’ve been involved with. I was a part of the Adventure Musical Theatre tour last season and had an absolute blast! ‘A Christmas Story’ has more than a few rolling backdrops, though, and by looking around the house right now, I see a lot more people involved in the process.

My role in the show is a ‘Swing.’ As defined, I am a cover for the seven ensemble men in the show, able to step in for any of the actors at a moment’s notice, and responsible for performing the track exactly as the other actor would. And because I’m not on stage during the tech process I’m able to observe and take extensive notes on each of the actors’ track. These notes will be moved into separate track scripts I’d be able to use if I ever had to step in for someone. It’s a daunting task and it’s a lot of work, but it’s so much fun.

During the long hours of tech rehearsals people get a little run down after dancing a number 15 times to try and time lights out perfectly. Run down, and sometimes a little crazy. I’d like to take this time to share with all of you some of the gems we’ve heard here at the swing table during rehearsal:

“Let’s take it from the top of the Riverdance” – Amy (Stage Manager)

“Can I wear these shoes in my fantasy? / Can we make it so I slide down the banister into my fantasy?” - Carol Swarbrick (Miss Shields)

“People are much funnier on God Mics.” - Sarah Davis (Swing)

(Upon discovering that the lamp doesn’t light) “Boys, check the fusebox!” – John Bolton (The Old Man)

“You’ve got the longest legs in the world, Carol!” – Kelly, “Three of ‘em!” – Carol Swarbrick during the leg lamp dance.

“Funny, Eric, but be gentle with your leg.” – Amy (Stage Manager)

“Kids, please don’t eat the snow… It’s plastic.” - Kelly Devine (Choreographer)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Meet the Kids of A Christmas Story: The Musical!

Need another reason to catch A Christmas Story: The Musical? We've got 13, and despite these hilarious lyrics, trust us, these kids are anything but wimps! Catch a sneak peek of the children's ensemble performing "When You're a Wimp" from A Christmas Story: The Musical! here:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meet the Parkers—And All of their Neighbors!

We are pleased to announce the cast for A Christmas Story: The Musical!, the 5th Avenue Theatre’s upcoming holiday production. The roster features an impressive array of Seattle area talent, as well as three actors from New York.

After a coast-to-coast search that included auditions in New York, Seattle and Los Angeles, as well as video submissions from across the country, Olympia, Washington-based actor Clarke Hallum (left) was chosen to play the lead role of Ralphie Parker. The 11-year-old Hallum has most recently appeared at the Capital Playhouse as Charlie in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

“I’m proud, but not surprised that, after a nationwide search, we found our Ralphie right here in the Pacific Northwest,”

says 5th Avenue Theatre Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong. “Casting Clarke -- as well as the many other children who will be featured in this exciting production -- says a lot about the incredible talent pool of performers of all ages who live here in the Puget Sound.”

The adults in A Christmas Story: The Musical! include several familiar faces, as well as performers new to 5th Avenue audiences. The principals are John Bolton (The Old Man), Anne Allgood (Mother), and Frank Corrado (Jean Shepherd). Featured performers include Carol Swarbrick (Miss Shields), Orville Mendoza (Elf/Waiter), Eric Polani Jensen (Pierre), and Matt Wolfe (Santa).

The rest of the children in the cast have also primarily been drawn from the Puget Sound area. They include Keenan Barr (Grover Dill), Ashton Herrild (Scut Farkus), Matthew Lewis (Randy Parker), and Dexter Johnson (Flick). River Aguirre (Schwartz) joins us from New York. The ensemble includes Walker Caplan, Wilder Cufley, Larson Eernissee, Drea Gordon, Shaye Hodgins, Olivia Mora, Erich W. Schleck, Cameron Washington, and Mira Wellington.

More About the Cast
John Bolton is a New York-based actor who has originated roles in several Broadway productions including Curtains and Spamalot. Anne Allgood has performed locally at ACT, Seattle Rep, Intiman, Village Theatre, and of course at The 5th, where she was seen in a bravura turn as The Old Woman in last season’s critically-acclaimed Candide. Frank Corrado, a veteran of the Seattle theater scene, last appeared at The 5th Avenue in White Christmas as General Waverly. He is joined by Carol Swarbrick, who also appeared in White Christmas as Martha Watson. Orville Mendoza is based in New York and his work has included a Drama Desk-nominated performance in Adrift In Macao. Eric Polani Jensen, another 5th Avenue regular, was last seen behind an astonishing moustache as The Governor in Candide. And Matt Wolfe graced our stage in Catch Me if You Can.

Rounding out the cast are Seattle-based performers (and 5th Avenue favorites) Jadd Davis, Candice Donehoo, Brandon O'Neill, and Billie Wildrick as the Radio Quartet. Joining them are Krystle Armstrong, Jared Michael Brown, Sarah Davis, Aaron Finley, Frances Leah King, Jenny Shotwell, and Ty Willis as members of the Ensemble.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In the Heights is a Hit!

The reviews are in and Seattle critics agree-- In the Heights is a smash hit!

Check out some of the highlights below in our review roundup:

From the Seattle Times - “This Tony Award-winning Broadway musical first devised by Lin-Manuel Miranda arrives on tour with a splendid cast, and its street-smart humor, sentimental soul and fiery dancing intact."

From the Woodinville Weekly - This fast-paced, moving, funny and internationally-flavored story sizzles with an exciting score, inspired choreography and terrific performances by a charismatic cast that knows how to rock the house."

The Examiner - "The energetic and highly talented cast of performers bop, sway, salsa, and hip-hop their way to the show’s upbeat ending.”

The Broadway Hour - “It is the catharsis that we all need from time to time to connect us to what is truly important: family, friends and embracing who you are. No wonder it won the Tony for Best Musical.”

Only two weeks remain to catch the smash hit-- get your tickets at!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sneak a Peek of A Christmas Story: The Musical!

If you happened to attend Spotlight Night September 16, you were privy to a surprise world premiere from A Christmas Story: The Musical! performed by composer and lyricist team Benj Pasek & Justin Paul. If you hadn't heard of Broadway's hottest young songwriters before, chances are you were scouring the search engines for more shortly thereafter (or maybe that was just our staff...). The charming pair so entertained our audience that we received several requests for videos of their performance -- and, despite it being a little early for Christmas, we happily obliged! Here is the FIRST clip of their performances. Stay tuned for more performances and backstage interviews to come!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Spotlight on In the Heights: Videos are UP!

For those of you who didn't catch our first Spotlight Night of the season, here's a preview of what you missed!

Broadway producer Kevin McCollum (Rent, Avenue Q, In the Heights) shared his trade secrets on what makes a Tony Award-winning best musical and gave a preview of the upcoming Broadway tour of In the Heights. Check out interview clips below -

And stay tuned for more Spotlight Night clips, including performances from A Christmas Story: the Musical! composer and lyricist team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul!

Monday, September 20, 2010

In the Heights Events

Looking for a pre-show dinner or fun event to heighten your theater experience? Whether you're more intellectually or gastronomically inclined, we've got something for you!

Free Events! - The 5th Avenue Show Talk: Sponsored by Macy's

Meet theater artists and special community guests throughout the run of In the Heights as we examine many of the topics and themes from the show, including:

New York as a Musical Theater Character
Hip-Hop Storytelling Slam Poetry
Displacement Issues within Minority Groups
Immigration Debate in the United States
Dominican Culture and Community
Communities in Change

Show Talk events are free and open to the public - find dates and details here.

Pre-Show Spotlight Dinner

For the perfect pre-show dinner and drink spot, check out our neighborhood restaurant partner Sullivan's Steakhouse located just two blocks from the Theatre. See a sneak peek at their special 3-course Spotlight Menu below:

Make reservations and find information, here.

In the Heights opens next week! Don't miss out on the Tony Award-winning best musical, get your tickets today!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Come to Spotlight Night!

Tomorrow night (Thursday, September 16) is the first Spotlight Night of the season! For those of you still debating whether to sign up for your FREE tickets (yes, they're free, so what's the debate about?) here are 10 reasons to log on and sign up now:

10. It's FREE! Spotlight Nights are a mini-production from The 5th. That means you get the same top-notch talent, entertainment and experience you've come to expect from The 5th, but best of all, it's absolutely FREE!

9. You'll get the inside gossip. Host Executive Producer & Artistic Director David Armstrong has been known to get pretty excited during Spotlight Nights, and when David gets excited about a production, he sometimes spills the beans on top-secret info. (And by "sometimes," we really mean often...) That means you'll get behind-the-scenes gossip and news before anyone else!

8. Special offers.

7. Premiere performances! Last season Legally Blonde composer and lyricist Laurence O'Keefe performed a sneak peek of his new work Heathers -- and our Spotlight Night audience was the first in the world to hear it! Expect more of the same this season, starting tomorrow night...

6. Did we mention it's free?

5. Eric Ankrim. The Gregory Award nominee and upcoming star of Oklahoma! will perform with upcoming 5th Avenue performers Cayman Ilika, Jennifer Sue Johnson and

4. Billie Wildrick. Star of countless 5th Avenue productions such as On The Town, Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park with George, the songstress will preview songs from the upcoming season, including Vanities: A New Musical.

3. The Theatre. While many of our admin staff enjoyed sunshine-filled activities outdoors this summer, many of the crew were hard at work inside the Theatre during the three-month break. Be the first to see the fruits of their labor as we unveil a surprise!

2. Kevin McCollum will be there. If you haven't yet heard of the Broadway hall-of-famer, tomorrow is your chance to hear first hand what it's like to produce some of Broadway's hottest hits. Kevin's repertoire includes the Tony Award-winning productions of Rent, The Drowsy Chaperone, Avenue Q and In the Heights.

1. Surprise guests! Due to the nature of show biz, airlines make a killing off some of our illustrious guests and their ever-changing schedules...which means some of our guests won't be announced until they arrive at the event. Trust us, it's worth the wait!

Availability is limited -- sign up for your FREE tickets now at!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thank You & Giant #FollowFriday

Thank you to all who have participated in our Christmas in July one-day sale through buying tickets and spreading the word!

For those of you on Twitter, you'll recognize the term #FollowFriday. Follow Fridays are posts where people recommend other twitter accounts as ones their fans should also follow. We often get recognized in #FollowFridays that talk about great arts orgs in Seattle - merci!

In honor of the #FollowFriday tradition, we would like to dedicate this post to all of you who have spread the word! We're sure there are hundreds of you not listed, so feel free to post your Facebook name/Twitter name in the comments if we didn't include you!

A HUGE "Thank You" goes out to the following individuals and organizations for supporting The 5th Avenue and helping to spread the word about our Christmas in July sale for A Christmas Story: The Musical. 5th Avenue fans, be sure to follow these guys - there's a reason they are our friends!

Seattle Convention & Visitors Bureau

Seattle Chamber of Commerce

Downtown Seattle Association

Inn at The Market

Heavy Restaurants (Purple Cafe & Wine Bar, Barrio, Lot No. 3)

Seattle Metropolitan

Seattle Magazine and Inside Seattle

Shuttle Express

Warm 106.9

Spectrum Dance Theatre

Seattle Repertory Theatre

Pacific Place

Fairmont Olympic Hotel

Made in Washington Stores

Hotel Max

Marqueen Hotel

Hotel Andra

Seattle Events

Rosemary Jones

Oliver's Lounge , Andaluca & Mayflower Park Hotel
Clear Awakening Massage

Seattle Night Out

Four Seasons Hotel

Suite 410

Argosy Cruises

Also a great thank you to @twit_willow, @clarknuber @mylifebalance, @rumstrypze, @keridwyn, @kcrep, @thejathan, @sandmear, @dealpop, @k8malone, dnm_sea_travel, @whatagooddeal, @denaliswisher, @glutenfree23, @2pawprints, @juliatran, @superbetch, @chrismarcacci, @rickjameswife ...and SO may more!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Find The Leg Lamp" Contest!

It's Leg Lamp Week!

Gearing up for Friday's Christmas in July sale, we decided to launch a fun contest this week as well!

Somewhere in downtown Seattle, our Leg Lamp is out on display! Solve this puzzle to find out where the Leg Lamp will be (now through Friday) and visit its location for your chance to win!

When you find the Leg Lamp, simply fill out a form to enter to win VIP tickets to A Christmas Story: The Musical. Bring your camera with you - when you email us a photo of you with the leg lamp (or post the photo on our Facebook wall) you will be entered to win for a second time!

Here's the puzzle - happy hunting!

From the Atlantic to the _ _ _ _ _ _ _, A Christmas Story has a special _ _ _ _ _ in the hearts of many.

Based on the _ _ _ _ of short stories by Jean Shepard, this holiday classic movie comes to life as a “delightfully over the top” musical this holiday season.

Don’t miss out on all the fun that is in _ _ _ _ _!

Monday, July 26, 2010

It's "Christmas In July" this Friday - save up to $50!

Christmas in July is this Friday, July 30th!

Get tickets to A Christmas Story: The Musical for only $30 (save up to $50)!

To celebrate our 30th anniversary, The 5th Avenue Theatre is giving you a special gift – on Friday, July 30 – for one day only, tickets to our new holiday production of A Christmas Story: The Musical will be on sale for just $30!

Discount applies to performances from November 26 – December 8. Don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with this hilarious musical inspired by the classic 1983 film.

The special pricing will be available online at, in person at the box office at 1308 5th Avenue, or over the phone at 206-625-1900.

*Price does not include $3 facility fee per ticket. Service fees apply to all web and phone orders. No refunds or exchanges, all sales are final. Limit 9 tickets per person. Sale runs online from 9:30am Friday July 30 - 9:30am Saturday July 31. Box Office & Phones open 9:30am- 6:00pm on Friday.

For more info on A Christmas Story: The Musical, click here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Contemporary Classics features 5th Avenue performers

Our casting associate and artistic project manager, Brandon Ivie, has a busy job supporting the artistic department in a wide varity of ways. Somehow, Ivie still finds time outside of The 5th to be an active freelance director and artistic director of Contemporary Classics, a company dedicated to producing and developing contemporary musicals in Seattle.

This summer, Brandon and Contemporary Classis bring two great musicals to Seattle - and brings 5th Avenue Theatre fans the opportunity to get tickets at 25% off.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Now - August 14 at Ballard Underground Theatre) is the hilarious Tony Award-winning musical about six social outcasts competing for the biggest spelling championship of their pre-pubescent lives. Spelling Bee features 5th Avenue Theatre actors Brian Demar Jones (Hello, Dolly!) and William Williams (Adventure Musical Theatre). Use discount code social5thave on BrownPaperTickets to recieve 25% off.

Playing July 23 - August 1, The Yellow Wood is an exciting new rock musical about a 17-year old boy with ADHD trying to memorize the poem “The Road Not Taken” without his Ritalin. The world of the poem starts to come to life in the hallways of his school as he tries to navigate his way through all the facets of his not-so-normal life. The Yellow Wood explores the angst, joy and highly imaginative state of one teen's amazing brain. The Yellow Wood features 5th Avenue Theatre actors Diana Huey (Mame), Heather Apellanes (Joseph...), Jared Michael Brown (Adventure Musical Theatre), Bob DeDea (Into The Woods) and is directed by Brandon Ivie. Sarah Davis, 2003 Award Recipient for Best Actress at The 5th Avenue Theatre High School awards, also takes the stage. Use discount code social5thave to receive 25% off tickets, here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

5,000+ Celebration Contest!

This week, we passed 5,000 followers on Facebook! In honor of the Facebook "occasion" and all our fans, we are celebrating with a very special contest!

The winner will recieve:


Two VIP Tickets to The 5th Avenue Theatre (Winner chooses between A Christmas Story, Guys & Dolls or Oklahoma!)


A Night's Stay at Inn at The Market - with an amazing water view room (value $400!), including valet parking. Inn at the Market is Seattle’s only hotel in Pike Place Market, with view of the market and Puget Sound. Wait until you see their deck! This 5th Avenue Theatre favorite is a fabulous treat for out of towners or your own staycation!



Dinner at your choice of Purple Café & Wine Bar (amazing global wine selection and a menu that blends classic American styles with seasonal northwest ingredients in downtown Seattle) or Barrio Restaurant ($50 value) (creative, classic and Latin focused cocktails and a menu that takes a unique and modern approach to Mexican inspired cuisine).

How to enter:

1. Be sure you're following us on Facebook, here.

2. In honor of our 30th anniversary, write YOUR favorite memory from The 5th Avenue on our facebook wall. You can post the memory on our wall directly or link us to a blog entry you write about one of your visits to The 5th Avenue Theatre. (If you haven't yet been to The 5th Avenue, you can tell us who you'd bring and what show you're most excited to see in the coming 2010/2011 Season.)

3. Share our page on your facebook wall or invite your friends to join our page!

Thank you to all our fans on Facebook - you are so important to us!

Join us online!

5th Avenue Theatre Facebook Page
5th Avenue Theatre on Twitter

Inn at The Market Facebook Page
Inn at The Market on Twitter

Purple Cafe & Wine Bar Facebook Page
Barrio Restaurant Facebook Page
Heavy Restaurant (Purple, Barrio & LOT No. 3) on Twitter

Entries must be posted by July 22nd. One entry per person. 5th Avenue Theatre tickets valid for one of the first eight performances of each run of the select shows, excluding Saturday evenings. Inn at hte Market gift certificate is valid October 1, 2010 until May 31, 2011. Not valid New Years Eve or Valentines Day weekend. Reservations must be made in advanced and will be based on availability. Winner will be chosen by using on July 23rd.

Groups of 10 or more save 30%!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Seattle's Allen Fitzpatrick joins Broadway Memphis cast!

Seattle Star, Allen Fitzpatrick, is returning to NYC to play the role of Mr. Simmons in the Tony Award winning musical, Memphis! Fitzpatrick created the role of Simmons at the La Jolla Playhouse and returned to play the role here at The 5th Avenue Theatre's production.

Instead of heading to Banff for two weeks (with Ian Eisendrath, David Pichette, Brandon O'Neill, Billie Wildrick, and other 5th Avenue folks to workshop Loulou The Acrobat), he will be joining the Memphis Broadway cast for a multi-week engagement.

Fitzpatrick begins his performances tonight, for an 8 week run. Give our regards to Broadway, friend!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Seattle Star & In The Heights cast appear in So You Think You Can Dance!

Tonight, watch the cast members of the Tony-award winning musical tour of In The Heights, as they show their moves on 'So You Think You Can Dance!' on Fox!

We're excited to see In The Heights cast member and Seattle Star, Daniel Cruz on the program! Cruz has been seen on stage at The 5th Avenue Theatre in West Side Story, A Chorus Line, Hello, Dolly!, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and more.

Many Seattleites remember Cruz as Director/Choreographer of local dance group Cruz Control. Cruz has worked with artists such as Prince, Ashanti, N'sync, and Michael Jackson with renowned choreographers Wade Robson, Brian Friedman, Margueritte Derricks, and Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo. He has appeared on TV at MTV VMA's, BET Awards, Much Music Awards, and more. Daniel was also in the North American tour of Fame.

Cruz and the rest of the In The Heights touring cast perform at The 5th Avenue Theatre September 28 - October 17th. Tickets on sale in August. Click here for more about the show!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Free Concerts This Summer!

Stop by our table at the following Downtown Seattle Out to Lunch concerts this summer to enter to win tickets to The 5th Avenue Theatre!

Enjoy free outdoor music in this great city. Out To Lunch Concerts are from 12 Noon - 1:30pm at various locations.

The 5th Avenue Theatre will have a giveaway table at the following concerts:

Wed June 30: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (Funk/Rock) at Occidental Park

Wed Aug 4: Jovino Santo Neto (Brazillian Jazz) at Two Union Square

Fri Aug 13: Lucy Woodward (Jazz/Blues/Funk) at Harbor Steps

Fri Aug 27: The Dusty 45s (Rockabilly/Swing featuring 5th Avenue's own Billy Joe Huels) at Harbor Steps

Wed Sept 1: Grupo Ashe (Contemporary Cuban) at Westlake Park

Alternate Show Titles

Our box office staff has delighted the rest of us with a list of "alternate" show titles that anonymous patrons have used when requesting tickets over the past season. We don't judge anyone who gets a title wrong, of course, but some of the confusion on show titles does bring a smile to our face, so we had to share some of our favorites:

Catch Me If You Can has been called "Can't Take It With You," "To Catch a Thief," and "Catch You if You Can." (Perhaps the last one is a solo show?)

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat has been called "Joseph and his Music Colored Raincoat," "Joseph and the Technical Raincoat," "Joseph's Jacket," "Joseph and his whatever" and ""Joseph and the Amazing Democrat."

South Pacific was once referred to as "Blue Lagoon."

That "elle" of a show, Legally Blonde, might also be known to some as "Illegally Blonde," "The Gal in Pink" or "Legally Blind."

Candide was a tricky one, too. A rarely produced show, the pronunciation was a bit confusing - but we have to give people credit from trying. "Candida," "Candy-Man," and "Canada-eh," were some of the attempts that brought smiles to our face.

We wonder what fun titles will come out of next season's shows! Don't worry, though, we'll still be happy to find you great seats to In The Heights if you call it "Up in the Air" or Vanities if you ask for tickets to "Vain Mirror Musical!"

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Memphis success continues

Since winning the Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Orchestrations, Best Original Score, & Best Book for a Musical of 2010, the cast recording went from #81 to #9 on the Billboard Charts!

On Friday, July 2nd, ABC will air the President making the finale address in "America Celebrates July 4th at Ford's Theatre. Tony-nominated Memphis star, Montego Glover, joins the star-spangled special by singing her knockout solo, "Colored Woman," and General Colin Powell will honor five distinguished veterans who have recieved the Medal of Honor.

For more updates, visit the Memphis website:

If you missed David Armstrong's personal report from the Tonys, check it out here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Last Week of Candide - special offers, including $20 see it again tickets!

Only 5 shows left of Candide! Now - June 13.

Experience the theatrical event of the season, Candide, for the first time...or see it again for just $20!* And don't forget, Social Media fans can get 50% off tickets through Friday evening - details here.

Don't miss the show the Seattle Weekly calls "Irresistible" and The Seattle Times declares "a rare treat." Ticket start at just $25.50.

*See it again details: Turn in your paid ticket stub in person on the day you wish to attend at The 5th Avenue Theatre Box Office to redeem your $20 ticket. Limit one ticket per paid ticket stub. Cash only. Subject to availability. Offer not good on previously purchased tickets, or in combination with any other offer.

Also, tune in to KUOW today at 2:44pm to hear Seattle Times reviewer Misha Berson's take on Candide and why she loves this 5th Avenue production. After the live airing, you'll be able to hear it again on the KUOW website, here.

Jeannette d'Armand & Seattle Storm game

By now you have probably seen Jeannette d'Armand on our stage either in one of our Spotlight Nights, one of our productions, at our gala, or as one of The Daffodils, our popular girl trio, with fellow singers Candice Donehoo and Billie Wildrick accompanied by Albert Evans on piano.

Jeannette will be singing the National Anthem at Friday, June 11th's Seattle Storm basketball game! 5th Avenue fans can save big on tickets to Friday's game by clicking here and entering promotion code anthem. Get tickets for $15 - $25 (regularly $19 -$55) by selecting June 11's game, entering promo code, creating an account and then selecting your tickets. (Note: June 11 is currently the only upcoming game that we have scheduled a 5th Avenue Theatre performer to sing the anthem).

Jeannette recently released her debut CD "Stage Road." While she has been a Seattle resident for nearly 20 years, Jeannette still keeps her connections to the New York scene and recorded "Stage Road" in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. Her two producers were Laurel Massé, founding soprano of Manhattan Transfer, and Hubert "Tex" Arnold who did the arrangements and played for Margaret Whiting for 20 years and has also arranged for Rosemary Clooney and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Here's what Jeannette had to say about producing her first CD:

"One of the most challenging aspects of making my first CD was narrowing down the material. There is such a plethora of phenomenal music in the world and I love to sing so much of it. I went through just about every song I've ever known sung by singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan to Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Paul Simon and a zillion more, including a trip to the Library of Congress in D.C. to research Peggy Lee's lesser-known compositions. The challenge was how to release a cohesive album that one could listen to without feeling they just changed the station on the radio six times. This is where working with Laurel Massé and Tex Arnold came in. Using primarily one arranger allowed me to bring the songs together and produce them in such a way that my varied choice in music could live together on one album."

The title of the album has a bit of a story behind it. Jeannette is not only the daughter of two classical singers but the granddaughter of Jeanne Merrill, who starred on Broadway in the 1940s, sang with the New City Opera Company and sang for a weekly radio show during World War II. Aptly enough, the street Jeannette was raised on in her youth was called "Stage Road".

"Stage Road" can be found on, iTunes and

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Win two seats to private reading of A Christmas Story!

Update: Winner has been chosen: Michelle J.F. Congrats Michelle!

On Friday June 11th at 11:30am, a selection of fantastic local actors will be doing a read-through selection from Act 1 of A Christmas Story, which premieres at The 5th Avenue Theatre November 30th - December 19, 2010.

One lucky winner will receive two passes to this private event - you can't buy a seat, you only can win them! Be one of the first of your friends to hear the songs and script of this exciting new musical.

To enter, simply

  • post a comment on this blog entry

  • write a comment on our facebook wall

  • or write a tweet that uses @5thavetheatre in the body of the tweet, such as "You'll shoot your eye out, @5thavetheatre - I want to win!"

One entry per person - entries must be posted by 3pm Thursday June 10th (winner will be contacted by 4pm).

Please note, this is a special reading - elements to the show may be added or removed before performances begin. As this show has not been officially cast, the actors in the reading may not be the actors you see on stage.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Free Event - part of Seattle Celebrates Bernstein festival

Monday June 7, 2010 7:30pm

STG Presents WEST SIDE STORY Stories – Memories of Lenny by Martin Charnin on Monday, June 7, 2010 at 7:30pm in STG’s Paramount Theatre lobby. This free event includes Martin Charnin's (one of the original Jets) personal reminiscences of Leonard Bernstein, and features a never-before heard reading of a 1987 conversation recorded at the Dramatist Guild in New York between Bernstein, Sondheim, Lawrence and Robbins, with Seattle actors portraying the four giants. Bernstein songs performed by Showtunes cast members will round out the event. This free event is part of the Seattle Celebrates Bernstein Festival. To learn more, visit

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Learn more about Summer School programs and enter to win!

Want to know more about Summer Musical Theatre Schools this August at The 5th Avenue Theatre for ages 11 - 20?

Email with the subject line Summer to receive more information on summer camps and be entered to win 2 tickets to A Christmas Story November 30 – Dec 3. One entry per person, contest ends June 10th.

For more on Summer Musical Theatre School, click here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Glowing Reviews & Great Offers for Candide!

We've been so appreciative of all the glowing reviews we've recieved from press, bloggers and fans on our social media sites, so we've decided to extend our social media discount offer for Candide!

Use promotion code FANS to receive 50% off all remaining Sunday evening - Friday evening performances.

Buy tickets over the phone at 206-625-1900, in person at the box office or online using promotion code FANS. When ordering online, be sure to sign in to your account and use the promotion code FANS at that time, before choosing your seats.

Click here for more info on the show, which ends June 13.

Find us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date with all our offers, contests, news and more!

Not valid on previously purchased tickets or in conjunction with any other offer. Not valid on Pearl or Side Balcony seats.

The reviews:
From the Seattle Times: "Candide is a celebration of how far Seattle's musical theater scene has come - and what, at full strength, it is capable of." Read the full review
From Broadway World: "...perfect staging, soaring voices, hysterical and touching performances and of course that brilliant Bernstein score, the 5th Avenue has definitely turned this diamond in the rough into the sparking gem it was always meant to be and has proved that this production truly is the best of all possible worlds." Read the full review
From Seattle Metropolitan: "...a smart, salacious epic with a booming score and voices to match." Read the full review
From The Examiner: "...Candide the musical is wholly unexpected and bitterly insightful; therein lies its genius and fascination." Read the full review
From The P-I Blogs: " enchanting evening that is a fitting tribute to arguably the greatest musical talent America has ever produced." Read the full review

About the show:

Having been taught by his beloved tutor, Dr. Pangloss, that "everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds" our handsome, yet hapless, hero Candide sets off on an epic journey to find his one true love -- the beautiful Cunegonde. Along the way he encounters wars, plagues, shipwrecks, earthquakes, pirates, swindlers, the Old World, the New World, the fabled lost city of Eldorado, and the Spanish Inquisition! Inspired by Voltaire’s classic satire this legendary musical features a sparkling score by the great Leonard Bernstein that includes the famous "Candide Overture", the hilarious and bravura showstopper "Glitter And Be Gay", and the moving and inspiring anthem "Make Our Garden Grow". This Seattle professional première offers you the rare opportunity to experience one of "the best musicals you’ve never seen!"

Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Richard Wilbur, with additional lyrics by Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, John Latouche, Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein
Book adapted from Voltaire’s novel by Hugh Wheeler, in a new version by John Caird
Directed by David Armstrong

Friday, May 28, 2010

High School Musical Awards happening soon!

Along with the glowing reviews for Candide (including this one from The Seattle Times), we’ve been getting some good coverage for the upcoming 5th Avenue High School Musical Awards:

Seattle Times

and some select articles from regional papers:

PNW Local News

Tri City Herald

Broadway Hour

The Olympian

Issaquah Press

It’s a great time to be part of The 5th Avenue family!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Giveaway for Kooza Tickets!

Update: Contest has ended - congrats to winner Rebekah K.

Want to check out the new Cirque du Soleil show, KOOZA? Email by 4pm today with the subject line KOOZA to enter to win a pair of tickets to the opening night premiere performance next Wednesday, June 2 @ 7:30 PM at Marymoor Park in Redmond. One entry per person. For details on the show, click here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Highlights of rehearsal from Lauren Smith, performance intern

written by Lauren Smith (Ensemble, Candide). Being a performance intern, she gets to be a part of our production of Candide while getting college credit.

An internship is often thought of as a thankless job. After spending the last month as a performance intern (and the last five in the Education Department) at The 5th Avenue Theatre, I will strongly disagree. The rehearsal process for Candide has been undeniably demanding. However, it has been full of many delights that make all of the hard work worthwhile. Naturally, I’m thrilled to be singing with some of the most talented actors in the area in my very favorite theater. That is an enormous joy.

Here are a few of the smaller joys that make me love what I do:

David Armstrong is a graceful man. Watching him decide what steps to include in “Easily Assimilated” was surely a highlight.

Hearing Anne Allgood’s accent in the initial reading. Beyond hilarious.

Listening to Laura Griffith sing “Glitter and be Gay” for the first time.(And the second. And the twentieth.

Congratulating our four Cornish interns on their graduation.

The stage managers really take care of us! I was pleased to see stations filled with pencils, pens, highlighters, cough drops and water set up for us throughout the rehearsal space. They really think of everything!

Being treated to a spontaneous performance of “All That Jazz” (complete with choreography) from Stanley and David P. spurred by Stanley’s sultry wall slide.

Joel Fram is not only a fabulous music director; he is King of the Camera. It’s a lot of fun watching him snap photos of goings-on onstage and off.

Mike McGowan frequently describing delicious dishes he cooks at home. Someone get that man a show on the Food Network!

The Female Ensemble’s dressing room is where it’s at. Our resident DJ, Corinna Lapid-Munter, is always willing to spin a “get pumped” tune to get us geared for our 10-out-of-12s.

Tech rehearsals can be rough, but I’m constantly in awe of what the designers and hardworking crew members have come up with. It’s incredible watching the tech elements build on top of each other.

After a long rehearsal, there’s nothing like a long dinner break to unwind, bond with the cast, and take advantage of the nearby happy hour appetizers!

The 5th Avenue’s house is easily one of the most gorgeous I’ve seen, so I was surprised that I fell even more in love with it when all of the lights were out. Standing on the stage, all I could see were the footlights illuminating the aisles. My stomach did back flips.

Many of our actors go shirtless at various points in the show. It’s very endearing watching them huddle for warmth.

Some members of the cast set out to rename Captain Vanderdendur. A couple of the more popular renditions included Captain Chicken Tender and Captain Kindergartener.

The entire Wandelprobe was a pleasure. The orchestra is jaw-dropping phenomenal. I couldn’t tell you how many people teared up when we ran through “Make Our Garden Grow.”

I’m so excited to open this beautiful production and I’m beyond honored to be part of it. Here’s to many more delightful moments in Candide!

Tickets to Candide are still available! For a special social media discount, click here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The joys and challenges of music rehearsal

written by Billie Wildrick (Paquette in CANDIDE)

When someone is trying to calm you down and they say “go to your happy place," most people go to a tropical beach or a mountain vista or a cabin by the fire. I go to music rehearsal. I love music rehearsal more than maybe any other part of my job. And I love it most especially with The 5th’s own spectacular Ian Eisendrath (On the Town) and the wonderful Joel Fram (Candide). And it’s not because they’re mellow, gooey and kind. (Joel introduces himself at a meet and greet as Music Dictator.) But rather, it’s because they both work incredibly hard and in great detail on the score, and they expect the same investment from their singers. It is transcendent, the musicality specificity of emotional intention can bring to a score. The audience probably doesn’t know how much they have a musical director to thank when they can hear and understand every lyric in a show – how much a crisp, snotty “k” at the end of a word can provide in story telling.

Here is a copy of my music for the very last 12 bars of Candide – 12 bars out of a 300 page score.

Every circle and highlight and dynamic marking must be memorized along with the lyrics, notes and rhythms. And I’m sure there will be a few more marks before opening night. But that depth of technical precision and emotional investment is what makes it thrilling to the ear and the heart. Ian Eisendrath’s stirring work on “Sunday” in Sunday in the Park with George is another great example of this.

It’s such hard, detailed work requiring skill, practice and lots of focus. But for a singer who has strived and studied to speak the language of song, it’s like a student who fiercely loves and studies French getting to go live in Paris. Someone recently asked me what my favorite part of theatre is. Music rehearsal, and scene work for that matter, is better than applause and lights and costumes and a well-landed laugh. And I think that falling in love with the work and not the feedback or perceived “glamour” is what makes my life in the theatre so wonderful and satisfying. I’m a lucky girl!

Special blog offer for Candide still available. Details here.