Rising Star Project

Rising Star Project Puts Theater in the Hands of Youth

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By Anya Shukla, RSP Marketing Intern

This summer, nearly 100 high school students from all over Washington State will convene at The 5th Avenue Theatre for Rising Star Project: West Side Story. West Side Story, the awe-inspiring musical, beloved by many, reimagines Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the context of gang violence and racial prejudice. Although created 50 years ago, West Side Story is still as impressive, vibrant, and influential as ever; this Rising Star Project production of West Side Story makes the show new again.

This special production is part of The 5th Avenue Theatre’s Rising Star Project, a program that places musical theater in the hands of tomorrow’s artists, innovators, and leaders. Rising Star Project allows teenagers to develop professional skills by producing and performing a musical on The 5th’s mainstage. Students will remount The 5th’s professional production of West Side Story (playing May 31 – June 23, 2019), created by an all-student cast and crew, as well as students working in producing, development, marketing, and casting departments, with guidance and mentorship from The 5th’s staff.

Rising Star Project helps every young person achieve a fulfilling career, a stronger sense of self, and confidence in their ability to inspire positive change in the world. The Rising Star Project strives to take a proactive role in creating a theater community which is inclusive and representative of our region; provide students with direct mentorship from working theater professionals, introducing them to the diversity of viable careers in the theater industry; create a collaborative and authentic learning environment in regard to professional practices and expectations; connect students to American musicals not only as vehicles for self-expression, but also as significant artistic achievements, rich texts, and unique expressions of our nation’s history and heritage; and support classroom learning by providing quality arts-based education experiences for students—both at The 5th and in-residence throughout the community and in areas where opportunities for arts education are limited.

With quintessential score and choreography, West Side Story brings a relevancy to musical theater, coupling artistry with a reexamination of bias and stereotyping. The production, remounted entirely by students, makes the storytelling even more special. Audiences will watch a cast of dedicated high schoolers perform this iconic and sweeping tale with all the grace, passion, and quality of its mainstage counterpart. These students are only two weeks away from beginning rehearsals, while the arts admin and creative teams have already begun their work over the past few months. Soon, The 5th Avenue Theatre will be filled with teenage laughter, chatter, and excitement as youth prepare to make this expansive show a success.

Rising Star Project: West Side Story runs July 12-13. Click here for tickets and info. 

Rising Star Project is a tuition-free program made possible through a generous grant from The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation with additional support from the following sponsors: The Hearst Foundations, The Herman and Faye Sarkowsky Charitable Foundation, Schultz Family Foundation, Susie and Phil Stoller, RealNetworks Foundation, Michael Amend and Jeffrey Ashley, Linda and Kevin Cheung – Start It! Foundation, GM Nameplate, The Jean K. Lafromboise Foundation, Tom and Judi Lindquist, Claudia and Bob Nelson, Todd and Donna Rosenberg, Seattle Rotary Service Foundation, Elizabeth and Gary Sundem, and Becca and Bill Wert.

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