Meet the Factory: Strikers and Scabs

As we ramp up to the sexy, steamy production of The Pajama Game, we’re taking this opportunity to introduce you to the members of our fantastic cast. Or, as we’ve come to know them, the workers at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks to learn more about each worker in our factory.

Richard Peacockpg_richard-peacock-web

Richard recently returned from Tucson where he was a featured dancer in Fiddler on the Roof at the Arizona Theatre Company. You may have seen earlier this season at The 5th in Man of La Mancha, last season in How to Succeed…, or in A Christmas Story and A Chorus Line.

pg_paul-flanagan-webPaul Flanagan

Like many of our motley crew, Paul was in our production of How to Succeed… last season. Or perhaps you saw him in our revisal production of Lerner & Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon, or in one of his numerous previous roles at The 5th. He was also recently in SCT’s production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Find out more about Paul at his website.

McKayla Marsopg_mckayla-marso-web

McKayla was also seen last season in our production of How to Succeed…, and earlier last season in The Sound of Music. Other 5th Avenue credits include A Christmas Story and A Chorus Line. She’s also been out on the road several times in National Tours of Monty Python’s Spamalot and The Wizard of Oz.

pg_lauren-du-pree-webLauren Du Pree

Lauren graced our stage earlier this season in Man of La Mancha and was part of the steno pool last season in How to Succeed… She’s been seen regionally at Village Theatre, Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre and Signature Theatre. Lauren has also been seen on TV in Biz Kid$. Find out more about Lauren at her website.

Ryan Patrick Kellypg_ryan-patrick-kelly-web

Ryan is making his 5th Avenue debut with The Pajama Game! Ryan performed on Broadway in Wicked, and has been seen regionally in productions of Cats, Music Man, Sweet Charity and Pippin. He’s performed in a Radio City Christmas Spectacular and at Tokyo Disneyland. Film and television credits include Smurfs, Across the Universe, Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon, Two and a Half Men, Mozart in the Jungle, America’s Got Talent and Nurse Jackie.

pg_carolyn-willems-van-dijk-webCarolyn Willems Van Dijk

Carolyn is returning to The 5th after having previously trod the boards in productions of Paint Your Wagon, The Sound of Music, ELF, Oklahoma! and Cinderella. She received a BFA from the University of Oklahoma.


The Pajama Game is directed by our own Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry, and runs February 10 through March 5. To find out more and to purchase tickets, click here.

Steam Heat Coloring Contest

In partnership with The Seattle Times, we are presenting our annual coloring contest. This year’s theme: Steam Heat! Check out the information below about what to do and how to enter to win some of the fantastic prizes. Plus, pick up the first piece of the contest! You can win a date night out at The 5th by entering! Look for the pieces every week day beginning today, with the final piece and entry form in the Sunday edition of the paper! Color all the clothing pieces and the paper dolls of Sid and Babe and send them in for a chance to win!

A big shout out and thank you to our partners at The Inn At The Market and Purple Cafe and Wine Bar for their generous additions to our prize pack!

coloring-contest-rules babes-pajama-top

Meet the Factory: Operators and Stitchers

As we ramp up to the sexy, steamy production of The Pajama Game, we’re taking this opportunity to introduce you to the members of our fantastic cast. Or, as we’ve come to know them, the workers at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks to learn more about each worker in our factory.

pg_trina-mills-webTrina Mills

Trina was seen at The 5th last season in Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon and How to Succeed… Other 5th Avenue credits include West Side Story, A Chorus Line, A Christmas Story, RENT, ELF and Spamalot. Trina is a native Seattleite who earned her BA in acting from WWU. She is pulling triple duty in this production; in addition to her role in the ensemble, Trina is also the Associate Choreographer and the Dance Captain.

pg_katherine-strohmaier-webKatherine Strohmaier

Katherine is returning to The 5th after having last performed on our stage as Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls, among others. She has worked regionally at Village, SCT, Showtunes, Harlequin, Milwaukee Rep, Seattle Symphony, Pasadena Pops and Opera de Rennes. She is a soloist with pianist Peter Nero, and an instructor at Cornish.

pg_emily-ann-johnson-webEmily Ann Johnson

Emily made her 5th Avenue debut as a performance intern last season in How to Succeed… Regional credits include Village Theatre, SecondStory Rep, Leavenworth Summer Theater (where she was Kathy in Singin’ in the Rain) and others. To find out more about Emily, visit her website.

molm_davione-gordon-webDavione Gordon

Most recently, Davione was on stage at The 5th in our production of Man of La Mancha earlier this season. Prior to that, he made his debut at The 5th in Carousel the season before. Davione has been part of the company at Spectrum Dance Theater for four seasons, and is a native of Fort Washington, Maryland.

Aaron Shanks

Like many of our amazing cast members, Aaron was part of the How to Succeed… cast last season. He was also in Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon last season. Other 5th Avenue credits include A Christmas Story, Carousel, Oliver! and Pirates of Penzance. Aaron has worked regionally at Village Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Showtunes Theatre and Spectrum DAnce Theatre.

pg_greg-stone-webGreg Stone

Greg is no stranger to The 5th. You may have seen him in Pirates of Penzance, Music Man or Titanic in Concert. Greg has been seen on Broadway in Les Misérables, Oklahoma!, Urban Cowboy and The Pirate Queen. He toured extensively with Les Misérables as Jean Valjean and as Chris in Miss Saigon.


The Pajama Game is directed by our own Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry, and runs February 10 through March 5. To find out more and to purchase tickets, click here.

Fostering and Supporting New Works with NextFest


This past October, The 5th presented NextFest, its second annual Festival for New Works. Eleven new projects were introduced during the three week festival, at varying levels of evolution, from cold table reads and writing intensives to week-long workshops complete with writers, actors and creative members working together to revise and improve new musicals.

Richard Andriessen, Andrew Russell and Marya Sea Kaminski working on The Rumble Within.

Three of the works at NextFest (The Long Game, The Rumble Within and Anybody Can Do Anything) emerged from another new works initiative, our inaugural Seattle Writers Group, which is a two-year program providing six writers the opportunity to attend bi-weekly meetings to share and discuss their work in progress.

Some photos from Week 1 of NextFest.

NextFest also featured a writing intensive and table read of a new commission for The 5th’s education program, Adventure Musical Theater Touring Company (AMT). Free Boy, based on the book by Seattle historians Lorraine McConaghy and Judy Bentley, tells the true story of Charles Mitchell’s harrowing escape from Washington Territory in 1860 through the Canadian Underground Railroad. In a more immediate sense, the work completed on Free Boy during NextFest will be seen in spring 2017 when it is performed by AMT in elementary and middle schools throughout Washington State.

Planning and organizing while working on new musicals sometimes takes up an entire wall.

“The 5th is committed to making sure that future generations will be able to enjoy relevant and compelling musical theater,” said Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry. “This year’s festival celebrates the richness and breadth of storytelling that is possible in musical theater.” For The 5th, the development and initial support of new works is just as important as the end product. Without the support and freedom to fully investigate and intensively examine these new works throughout the entirety of the creation process, they would never progress to the point of being ready to present on a stage.

Our inaugural cohort of the 10-Minute Musical Project.

It’s also imperative to engage and instruct the next generation of writers and artists in all stages of musical development, which is why The 5th was proud to present the result of the inaugural 10-Minute Musical Project, a new education program. Designed for students ages 14 to 19, the program aims to empower local teens and support their future achievement by introducing them to the crafts and skills associated with songwriting, book writing, directing and the workshop process. Students participated as book writers, composers, lyricists, directors, music directors, stage managers, actors, marketing administrators and photographers/videographers. Following several months of work during the summer, these students culminated their program with a presentation of four original works at NextFest. To read more about the 10-Minute Musical Project, please visit:

All of the cast and creative team members who worked on The Crazy Ones, one of the new works presented at NextFest.

NextFest is not currently open to the general public. Festival passes are a benefit of an Artist’s Circle Membership, offering access to behind-the-scenes interviews with writers, sneak peeks, special concerts, cocktail events and panels. To learn more about Membership before next year’s NextFest, please contact Development at (206) 625-1418.

To learn more about these and other musicals, please visit:

The History of Pajamas

By JORDAN LUSINK, Communications Coordinator

When you think of pajamas, probably the first think you picture is the two –piece model, with a buttoned and collared shirt and matching drawstring bottoms. Perhaps something like this:


While the term “pajamas” has become something of a catch-all to refer to any type of sleepwear, that word wasn’t part of the English vernacular until the early 1800s. In fact, it’s origins specifically referred only to the pants portion of sleepwear. The worldwide use of pajamas (the word and the clothing) began in the late 18th and early 19th century as a result of British colonization in India. The word “pajama” first appeared in the English language with the spelling “pyjama,” adopted from a Bengali word (which was adopted from the Persian word “paejama”) for leg-garments. The word referred to loose, lightweight pants, usually with a drawstring waist which were worn by Muslims in India. Along with the term, Europeans adopted the style as well, though initially for lounging rather than sleepwear.


This adoption was made possible by the technological advances that were made in the early 19th century. In 1829, the first practical and widely used sewing machine was created by a French tailor. In conjunction with the advent and increased use of sewing machines, the traditional Muslim pajamas became much easier to make. In fact, all types of sleepwear became possible, and they gradually became more diverse and intricate.

Until the advent of the sewing machine, sleepwear was focused on function over fashion. Essentially before that point, everyone wore shapeless and colorless nightshirts and nightdresses. Most of these were made with white linen. The purpose for this was mostly practical; in addition to being easier to produce via hand sewing, the plain sleepwear simplified the laundry process, and linen absorbs body oils and perspiration. Laundry was a time consuming and difficult process, often using harsh chemicals. Colored dyes wouldn’t have been able to survive the constant boiling and bleaching, not to mention that night clothes were not worn publicly, so why waste time, effort and resources?


Once the Muslim style of pajamas was adopted, it quickly became a staple of the male wardrobe. Both two-piece pajama sets (as we often picture) and union suits were versions of this more close-fitting approach at sleepwear. The union suit, named for its use by Union soldiers during the Civil War was what we might today term long johns. It was a one-piece knitted thermal undergarment that covers legs and buttons in the front. Women also wore the union suits, as you can see in this Lewis Union Suit ad from 1898.


While nightgowns still continue to be popular for women as sleepwear today, the trend away from the nightgown and towards the two piece pajama set and a more tailored approach was solidified by the 1920s. Here’s an example of Ginger Rogers wearing “lounging pajamas” in the 1940s.


In the early- to mid-1900s, the union suit idea was adapted specifically for children into what were called blanket sleepers (or footie pajamas, as we might know them). While the union suit would often have shorter legs and no sleeves, blanket sleepers offered full coverage, often adding jiffy gripped foot coverings and drop seats (aka the butt flap). For most of the early twentieth century, they were manufactured exclusively by Doctor Denton Sleeping Mills, and were marketed as “covers that can’t be kicked off.” While their popularity waned a bit in the 1960s and early 1970s, they got a boost in the later 1970s and early 1980s due to the energy crises. Advertisements from that time often emphasized that thermostats could be set lower at night when children used blanket sleepers.


Housecoats and bed jackets were also popular in the 1940s, over both two-piece pajama sets and nightgowns, and were frequently designed with “kangaroo pockets,” allowing women to grab and stash a few important things should she have a need to leave her house unexpectedly in the middle of the night.


While there are many options for your sleepwear needs, we recommend you consider the wise words from The Pajama Game about the good old-fashioned two-piece pajama set:

Married life is lots of fun,
Two can sleep as cheap as one.


Meet the Factory: Time Study Guys and Union Gals

As we ramp up to the sexy, steamy production of The Pajama Game, we’re taking this opportunity to introduce you to the members of our fantastic cast. Or, as we’ve come to know them, the workers at the Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks to learn more about each worker in our factory.

pg_eric-ankrim-webEric Ankrim

You may have seen Eric earlier this season as the Duke in our production of Man of La Mancha. Or perhaps you saw him last season as J. Pierrepont Finch in our blockbuster production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, also directed by Bill Berry, or in our revisal production of Lerner & Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon. Other 5th Avenue credits include Jacques Brel…, Carousel, First Date, Oklahoma!, RENT, Into the Woods, The Rocky Horror Show and Miss Saigon.  Eric also returned to the role he originated in First Date on Broadway. In addition to being a Sleep-Tite Pajama Factory worker, Eric is also serving as the Associate Director of this production.

Kevin Vortmannpg_kevin-vortmann-web

Kevin makes his 5th Avenue debut with The Pajama Game! He’s had an extensive career on Broadway and Off-Broadway, including A Little Night Music, Most Happy Fella, Juno, On the Town, Lost in the Stars, Applause, Fiorello!, Stairway to Paradise and Paint Your Wagon. Kevin has been a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the New York Philharmonic and Omaha Symphony.

pg_matthew-posner-web Matthew Posner

Many of our amazing How to Succeed… cast members are returning for The Pajama Game, and Matthew is one of them. In addition to How to Succeed… last season, you may have seen him previously at The 5th in Damn YankeesPirates of Penzance, Secondhand Lions, Oliver! and A Christmas Story. He’s also been seen at Village in Show Boat, Fiddler on the Roof and Billy Elliott. His tour/regional credits include Camelot and Les Miserables, and also has a prominent voice over career. You can hear his voice over work at!

pg_hannah-schuerman-web Hannah Schuerman

Hannah is returning to The 5th after making her mainstage debut in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music last season. Hannah recently graduated from Seattle Pacific University.

Jasmine Jean Simpg_jasmine-jean-sim-web

Jasmine is also making her 5th Ave debut! However, you may have seen her around town: she is a member of ACT Theatre’s Core Company 2016, and has been seen regionally in Dangerous Liaisons, Winter’s Tale, Bonnie & Clyde, Stupid F*cking Bird, 9 to 5 and A Christmas Carol. Find out more about Jasmine at her website.

pg_alexandria-henderson-webAlexandria Henderson

Like Eric and Matthew, Alexandria is returning to The 5th after appearing in How to Succeed… last season. Other 5th Avenue credits include Little Shop… and Hairspray in Concert. Regional credits include Stardust Christmas Enchantment with Harlequin, Working with Seattle Musical Theatre, Hairspray with Twelfth Night Productions and The Wiz with Tacoma Musical Playhouse.

The Pajama Game is directed by our own Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry, and runs February 10 through March 5. To find out more and to purchase tickets, click here.

Accessibility at The 5th

Did you know that The 5th has sign language interpreted performances? How about Braille programs? Or large print programs, audio described performances, assistive listening devices, captioned performances, and wheelchair seats? All of these are true! At The 5th Avenue Theatre, we are committed to making our theater as accessible as possible for all of our guests. In pursuit of that goal, we are constantly expanding our offerings. Read below to find out more about each of these services, and to be directed to more information.

American Sign Language-Interpreted Performances

We have an ASL-interpreted performance for each production that we present, usually the last Sunday evening of the production run. Ticket prices for ASL performances vary based on seating location close to the ASL interpreters. Click here to find out more and learn how to purchase tickets.

Audio Described Performances

We also have an audio described performances for each production, usually the last Saturday matinee of the production run. Click here to find a schedule and learn more.

Open Captioning Performances

Our open captioned performances feature a text display located to one side of the stage on which dialogue and lyrics scroll in synchronicity with the actual performance. Click here to find a schedule and learn more.

Wheelchair Seating

Wheelchair seating is available on the orchestra level (main floor) of the auditorium. There are reserved areas for wheelchair seats, and if no wheelchair seats are available, you can contact our Guest Services team by phone or email and they will do everything they can to accommodate you during the performance of your choice. Click here to learn more.

Braille and Large Print Programs

Both Braille and large print programs are available, free of charge, from Coat Check. Guests may check these programs out with a valid ID, and we ask that they please be returned at the end of the performance. These programs are subject to availability.

Elevator Access Inside the Theater

If you are seated on the balcony level and stairs present a challenge, we can provide you with elevator assistance. However, please note that all seating in the balcony will involve negotiating some stairs. You can proceed directly to the lobby of the Skinner Building for elevator assistance, or you can request assistance when you arrive. Click here for more information about elevator access inside the theater and wheelchair-accessible parking nearby.

Click here, call 206-625-1900, or email to find out more about any of our accessibility offerings. We’d also love to hear from you if there is an accessibility service that you think our guests would benefit from which we do not currently offer.

Rising Star Project Orientation: Students From Across the State Gather!

In early December, the 2016/17 Rising Star Project cohort came together for the first time. This orientation was a chance for the teens to meet and to begin learning what it takes to put up a musical at The 5th. This year’s cohort will include over 90 students who will be mentored by 5th Avenue staff and who will also mount an all-teen production of The Pajama Game on our stage in March 2017 (after the professional production closes).

This year’s Rising Star Project brings students together from as far away as Yakima and Marysville and as near as Rainier Valley and West Seattle.


Orientation included a tour of the historic venue where the students will be working and learning in the coming months.


In addition to helping the students create theater, the Rising Star Project also aims to create future leaders and a stronger theater community.  The students spent most of the day learning about each other.  Post-Its became a primary vehicle for dialogue and collaboration!



In a cohort of close to a hundred students, participants also found opportunities to connect in smaller teams. Each team had some fun creating their own team identities and brainstorming ways to support each other and the rest of their peers in the coming months.

Since 2012, the Rising Star Project has used the resources and professional knowledge that exist at The 5th Avenue Theatre to help young people achieve a fulfilling career, a stronger sense of self and confidence in their ability to inspire positive change in the world.  With one-on-one mentorship, local teens take on all the roles of putting on a full scale musical production—from director to technical crew to hair and wardrobe, to cast and orchestra. This year’s program will culminate in four performances of The Pajama Game on March 16-18.

Rising Star Project also encompasses in-class residencies, leadership workshops, and this season, introduced the 10-Minute Musicals Project and the Empowering Young Artists Initiative, intensive musical theater training for emerging performers.

Rising Star Project is made possible by a generous grant from The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation and with additional support from The Herman and Faye Sarkowsky Charitable Foundation, Susie and Phil Stoller, The Boeing Company, Washington State Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, GM Nameplate, Jean K. Lafromboise Foundation, Seattle Rotary Service Foundation, DCG One (in-kind) and Promotion Arts (in-kind).

Click here for more information about Rising Star Project, and our other Education programs.

Spotlight on Hattie Andres: 2016/17 Directing and Artistic Leadership Fellow

When you ask Hattie Andres to describe the best part of being the first recipient of The 5th’s Directing and Artistic Leadership Fellowship, she responds with a cliché that is telling of a young disciple of musical theater:

“The best part is being ‘in the room where it happens.’ I grew up seeing so many productions on this stage and now all of a sudden I’m seeing it all come together—from the ground up.”

However, it hasn’t taken long for Andres to confirm that her fellowship entails a bit more than just being in the room. The fellowship, currently a pilot program at The 5th, seeks to provide an early-career creative artist with a unique growth opportunity while specifically addressing the inequities in access and representation. Andres’s first role this season in line with that fellowship was to serve as assistant director for Man of La Mancha.

“Allison [the Man of La Mancha director] had to step out of the room at one point to speak to someone. And the stage manager looked at me and asked what I wanted to do with rehearsal. I thought, “Whoa—this is me.” That was a thrilling, terrifying, awesome moment. So much of being an assistant director is sitting quietly and getting to know every single detail of the show—and writing down everything the director says so that you have it as a point of reference. But in that first moment— when you need to take all of that and actually lead the room—it’s very exciting.”


The arts have always played an important role in Andres’s life.

“I started playing piano and violin and participating in choir when I was five. I had my first formal theater class when I was seven. And that’s just testament to having parents who are amazing supporters of the arts. My dad is a musician—it was always like, ‘Of course you’re going to sing, of course you’re going to play music.’ Now I think they regret it, because all of their children are going into the arts.” 

Andres lets a mischievous laugh interrupt her sentimental origin story. An interminable twinkle in her eye suggests that she is the kind of person who pursues her goals with passion and grace, but also humor. She discovered an interest in being a theater director by way of being a theater producer. By her junior year of high school in 2008, Andres had founded a theater company which is still producing and run entirely by young people between the ages of 14 and 21.

“Shout out to Young Americans’ Theatre Company!” By her senior year, she had self-produced a musical at her high school—a lesser known pop-influenced show called Zanna, Don’t which she championed in an effort to address issues that she cared about.

“When I was in high school, the majority of the student body still equated heternormativity and masculinity to ‘cool.’ I wanted to flip that upside down for people.”

When she speaks about her path toward artistic leadership and her aspirations of being a theater director, it is clear she is driven by an understanding of the potential impact that musical theater can have on today’s society.

“In The Age of Technology, or The Digital Age or whatever we’re calling it, musical theater has been able to retain its epic storytelling. We are constantly giving and taking things at face value. But I think musicals ask us to step beyond that, let that go and engage in a world that is real. I have a physical, visceral response to watching musicals up on stage. We can tell stories about real, pertinent things, but in a way that is different than just, ‘Here, this is what happened—and now you know it.’ Great musicals invite us to digest for ourselves and interpret for ourselves.”

Her faith in theater and musicals points her toward a horizon beyond her term with The 5th and into a future that she can contribute to in a meaningful way.

“My hope for musical theater is that we continue to be inventive in how we tell stories. And we continue to give more opportunities for all voices to be represented on the stage—voices that aren’t represented in mainstream Hollywood and haven’t been represented in theater in the past. I think that you can tell the same story from many different viewpoints and I hope that we continue to find the overlooked viewpoints—because that is how we better understand each other—and how we better understand the world around us, not just our position in it.”

Behind the Curtain: Sneak Peek at the Set Model for The Pajama Game

Check out these awesome set models for our upcoming production of The Pajama Game! We’re thrilled to have Carol Wolfe Clay in her scenic design debut at The 5th.

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Don’t miss The Pajama Game this spring at The 5th Avenue Theatre. Find out more information and purchase tickets at