Meet the Director: Bill Berry – The Pajama Game

Bill Headshot

Bill Berry will be directing our spring production of The Pajama Game. He recently directed another workplace comedy for The 5th-How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Find out more about Bill below!

Is this your first time directing at The 5th?
This is not my first time directing here, as Producing Artistic Director I have the privilege and honor or shepherding one or more projects each year at The 5th Avenue.  What keeps me excited and constantly engaged is the level of talent and the craftsmanship that The 5th is able to bring to the work on the stage- and this is largely about the designers, the crew, the artisans, the actors, musicians and admin teams at The 5th. All of them are top notch, and bring such dedication to the work, and always invest fully whether we are producing a new show, a revival of a well known title, or a little known show from the past.

What has been your favorite directorial experience, either here or elsewhere?
That question is hard- each thing I have directed in the past 20 years have been my favorites for various reasons-  but a constant theme in my favorite experiences has to do with the people I get to work with. That is what turns a good experience into a great experience.

Why this show? What is intriguing or interesting about it to you?
I love the score, I love the story, I find the show so relevant to the world we live in, including union vs. management, Fair Pay (what constitutes fair pay?).  These are things we are still talking about today, and getting to engage in that dialogue through a fun musical- that is really exciting for me.

Dream show to direct?
GOSH- that is another tough question.  The list changes on a pretty regular basis- I feel like I want to go back and have a second crack at Cabaret,  I would love to direct Follies and Ragtime is always on my dream list.

What’s your favorite thing about Seattle?
The weather in the summer- spectacular long days filled with light, the way the mountains sparkle in the distance, the smell of the Sound in the early morning when I walk to work.

BILL BERRY is the Producing Artistic Director here at The 5th. Berry served as The 5th Avenue’s associate producing artistic director and casting director from 2002 through 2009. During that time, he directed productions of West Side Story (Seattle Times Footlight Award), Wonderful Town (Seattle Times Footlight Award), Wizard of Oz and Smokey Joe’s Café. In 2014, he made his Broadway debut as the director of the hit musical First Date at the Longacre Theatre. Berry’s directing work has been seen at theaters across the country, most recently at New Jersey’s Paper Mill Playhouse where he directed a critically acclaimed production of On the Town. Directing highlights include Cabaret performed at The 5th Avenue Theatre, St. Paul’s Ordway Center (Ivey Award), San Jose’s American Musical Theatre, and Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars, as well as the smash hits How to Succeed…, Little Shop of Horrors, First Date, RENT, The Music Man, and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel at The 5th. From 2002 to 2009, he served as the producing director for The 5th Avenue’s education and outreach programs. During that time he significantly expanded the scope and impact of these initiatives, including spearheading the creation of Fridays at The 5th and The 5th Avenue Awards, honoring excellence in high school musical theater, as well as substantially increasing the reach of the Adventure Musical Theater Touring Company throughout the Northwest. These programs combined now serve over 70,000 students annually. He also initiated the Show Talk series, which seeks to deepen the theater-going experience. Prior to his work at The 5th Avenue Theatre, Berry was a freelance theater artist based in New York City.

If you loved How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying this spring, don’t miss The Pajama Game in our 2016/17 season. It will run February 9 to March 5, 2017. Subscriptions are available now, and single tickets will be available on November 25, 2016 at 10AM. Click here to find out more!

Renovation Update: Kicking Down Walls and Taking Names!

Things are moving right along with our scheduled renovations. This summer we’re working on installing the all-new, state-of-the-art digital sound system; updating the mezzanine-level restrooms; and going retro (in a good way) with the lobby carpeting.

Continue reading “Renovation Update: Kicking Down Walls and Taking Names!”

Renovations are Underway!

The updates to our beautiful, historic theater have started.Some destruction has to happen in order to accommodate our brand new digital sound system, and our fearless leaders were only too happy to help it get started!
Continue reading “Renovations are Underway!”

Teen Writers Take Charge as 10-Minute Musical Project Takes Off

For the past month, the inaugural class of The 5th Avenue’s 10-Minute Musical Project has been meeting at the theater to learn the ins and outs of creating original musicals.  Though the musicals that they have been tasked with writing will only be about as long as an NFL halftime, the process is still intense.  Luckily they’ve found help and mentorship along the way from local theater artists including Malika Oyetimein, Brendan Milburn, and Makaela Pollock.

Continue reading “Teen Writers Take Charge as 10-Minute Musical Project Takes Off”

Your Man of La Mancha Is…

We are thrilled to announce that Broadway’s Norm Lewis will star in the iconic dual roles of Cervantes/Don Quixote in this legendary Broadway musical. He will make his 5th Ave debut in Man of La Mancha.
Continue reading “Your Man of La Mancha Is…”

Meet the Director: Allison Narver – Man of La Mancha

Allison Narver will be directing the first show of our 2016/17 season, Man of La Mancha. Allison directed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers here at The 5th during our 2008/09 season, but has directed many other productions at theaters around town in between, most recently Sherlock Holmes & the American Problem at Seattle Rep.
Continue reading “Meet the Director: Allison Narver – Man of La Mancha

PSBJ Exclusive: 5th Avenue Theatre to undergo $14M makeover

This article was originally published in the Puget Sound Business Journal on July 26, 2016.  We didn’t want our readers without PSBJ memberships to miss out, so you can read the full feature below!

The 5th Avenue Theatre plans to spend $14 million on a remodel aimed to keep subscribers coming back.

The renovation will happen in three phases over three years, with the first beginning next week after “A Gentelman’s Guide to Love and Murder” closes.

It won’t strip away the theater’s ornate wood carvings of dragons and lotus flowers, instead it will build on the Chinese motif and give subscribers something they’ve said they desperately want — more bathrooms, a less crowded lobby and better heating and sound systems.

Continue reading “PSBJ Exclusive: 5th Avenue Theatre to undergo $14M makeover”

By the Numbers: Wrap Up of the 2015/16 Season for the Education Department

Thank you to the generous corporations, foundations, government agencies, board members, and countless individual donors who supported our education programs this season. With your help we reached over 83,000 students across the Pacific Northwest region, increased our service by 14% and kept our thriving programs accessible to all students.

Here’s a closer look….
Continue reading “By the Numbers: Wrap Up of the 2015/16 Season for the Education Department”

Darko Tresnjak: Director of Gentleman’s Guide

Sit down with Darko Tresnjak, director of Gentleman’s Guide, playing July 12-31 at The 5th Avenue Theatre. 

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the show and I think it’s quite safe to say that a great deal of the success of the show is in the staging and just the absolute fun of it.  Why don’t we start with what your response was to Steven Lutvak and Robert Freedman’s material; how you got involved with Gentleman’s Guide, in the first place.

DT: Well, in the beginning, several friends and agents told me about it; people seemed to think I was the right person for the show. And then Robert came to see my production of The Women at the Old Globe. He loved that and I think he thought that I would be a good match, because that’s another wicked comedy. That seems to be my specialty, you know?  I like naughty things!  I like things that are both appealing and a little bit subversive.  So, we all met up and when I dug into this musical, about a charming young man who lies and kills eight of his relatives and prospers in the banking industry and his punishment is that he ends up in a three-way with two gorgeous women, I said: “Okay!  Sign me on!”  Continue reading “Darko Tresnjak: Director of Gentleman’s Guide”

An Interview with the Writers of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder

Go behind the curtain with Steven Lutvak and Robert Freedman, creators of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, playing July 12-31, 2016 at The 5th Avenue Theatre.

I wanted to talk to you about the whole process of putting Gentleman’s Guide up on Broadway and winning the Tony Award.  As they say in Sound of Music, let’s start at the very beginning.  How did you two get involved with this piece?  And how long ago was it?  It was a while.

RF: Well, we met in the graduate musical theater writing program at NYU [in 1981].  We became friendly and we had threatened to work together for a long time.  We were looking for something and we worked on another show for a while and then, Steve had seen this movie, Kind Hearts and Coronets, on TV… Continue reading “An Interview with the Writers of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder”