Getting to Know The 5th: A Uniquely Seattle Broadway Experience

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Did you know that the large majority of shows you see on The 5th Avenue Theatre stage are self-produced? This fact actually makes The 5th incredibly unique, so let me explain what this means.

There are two ways that a musical appears on our stage. Once or twice a year, you’ll see a show that is part of a national tour. These musicals are hot from the Broadway stage and are now traveling across the country. In these productions, you will see sets, costumes and staging that is often the same or very close to what audiences experienced during the show’s run on Broadway. Recent national tours have included Tony®-award winners (or nominees) like Fun Home, Matilda and Something Rotten!

The rest of our season, however, is a mixture of classics or more recent musicals in productions that are created right here at The 5th Avenue Theatre. For each self-produced show, we assemble a team that includes a director, choreographer, music director and set, lighting, sound and costume designers. These individuals come from the incredible talent pool here in the Pacific Northwest, as well as from the best and brightest of those working in musical theater around the country. Initial artistic work on these shows begins as far in advance as 12-18 months before the productions hit our stage.

About one month before the first performance, the actors step inside The 5th to begin rehearsals in our dedicated space called “Downstairs at The 5th.” While these talented thespians run lines, learn blocking and choreography, and develop their characters, members of our experienced crew are ramping up for all of the technical demands of the show. The last steps include adding our accomplished pit musicians to create the full musical experience.

Why does all of this matter?  

Because The 5th produces the majority of the shows in our season, we are able to bring you a Broadway-caliber experience right here in Seattle. Serving the artists in our community is important to us and we work hard to foster a creative environment that supports and nurtures artists here in the Northwest.  We are committed to identifying and developing strong artistic talent and helping ensure that artists can live, work, and raise their families here.

Self-produced shows mean that we can look back through the complete canon of musical theater and offer fresh, exciting and relevant interpretations of contemporary hits and American classics, such as this season’s Ragtime and Kiss Me, Kate. Additionally, we are able to foster new writers and composers through our New Works Program, providing a supportive environment that encourages the development of new musicals.

Finally, because so many of shows are built, rehearsed and mounted on our stage, it means that The 5th employs more than 100 people for each show. So whether through money spent on employment or through money spent at local restaurants and parking garages, The 5th helps to fuel our local economy, contributing over $27 million annually. This helps to make Seattle a vibrant and thriving community for audiences, artists, craftsmen and technicians alike.

Keep an eye out for our next installment of Getting to Know The 5th!


David Armstrong
Executive Producer and Artistic Director
The 5th Avenue Theatre

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