“I’m just in love with the city of Seattle and the artists that create here,” says Eric Ankrim, star of The 5th’s upcoming production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. And it’s no wonder. The talented theater artist is one of the most in-demand professionals in the area. At The 5th, audiences love Ankrim not only for his incredible stage presence (Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, First Date), but for his talent in the director’s chair (Grease, ELF – The Musical).
Taking center stage as J. Pierrepont Finch is coming full circle for Ankrim. “This show is actually the first show I ever auditioned for and performed in, back in my sophomore year of high school. In many ways that experience was the reason I pursued theater moving forward.”
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The collaboration of Richard Maltby, Jr. and David Shire is one of the longest-running “acts” in show business, outlasting the partnerships of Gilbert & Sullivan, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Loewe and—well, just about any other team you could name. That fact speaks to the deep artistic affinity between the two men, who began writing theater scores at Yale in the late 1950s and now, more than a half century later, are unveiling their latest creation, Waterfall.
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Last season, our education programs served over 74,000 students throughout Washington State. On October 2, we hosted our first ever Educator’s Night. Because we know that educators are at the heart of student learning we wanted to celebrate the creativity, passion, and dedication they bring to their classrooms each day.
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Everyone enjoys a good love story told well and on this alone, Waterfall delivers. But beyond its captivating story of forbidden love, Waterfall possesses a socially conscious essence as it moves from Bangkok to Tokyo in the 1930s, exploring issues of culture and identity, race, globalization, immigration and the eternal tug of war between tradition and modernity. These themes not only capture the tensions of the times, but seem quite familiar and relevant to the present.
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Last season, the Rising Star Project welcomed nearly one hundred students into The 5th Avenue Theatre to mount a full-scale production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. The theater also partnered with educators to bring nearly 2,000 students from over 20 local schools to see the production created by their peers. None of this would be possible without the dedication and support of our partner teachers. They make amazing things happen for students every day. This is a snapshot of one of them.
At six thirty-five in the morning on any given school day, you’ll find Heath Thompson in front of a heavy-eyed group of teenagers at Kent Meridian High School. It’s time for vocal warm-ups. Gradually, amid a couple of yawns and a few tired sighs, creaky voices give way to rising scales, arpeggios, and eventual melodies.
Continue reading “Harmony in the Hallways: Connecting High School Students to Musical Theater”