“Steppin’ Out of the Shadows:” An Interview with Murder for Two’s Kellen Blair

By KWAPI VENGESAYI, 5th Avenue Community Engagement Specialist

Murder for Two is a hilarious musical comedy to die for. It received rave reviews during a record-breaking run at Chicago Shakespeare Theater prior to a critically-acclaimed run Off-Broadway at Second Stage Uptown. Called “Ingenious” by The New York Times, it is the perfect blend of murder, music and mayhem! In an interview with lyricist and co-writer Kellen Blair we get a little bit more insight into the show’s creation and success.

Joe Kinosian (left) and Kellen Blair (right)

Do you have any prior connections to The 5th and/or ACT?
I grew up in Seattle and most of my family still lives here (all proud subscribers at 5th Avenue, thank you very much). And interestingly enough, my very first theater experience was at ACT. I was two years old and my parents took me to see A Christmas Carol. It was a terrible idea because the sight of Jacob Marley had me screaming my head off and made everybody hate us, I’m sure. But I’ve been back every year since (and the screaming has definitely mellowed since then). So you can imagine, having my show here, the first theater I set foot in, is extremely meaningful to me. It’s also meaningful to my mom, who has been waiting for this day since our first reading seven years ago. Actually, when I found out Murder for Two was going to New York, I told my mom, and her response was, “Does that mean it’ll be coming to Seattle anytime soon?”

Continue reading ““Steppin’ Out of the Shadows:” An Interview with Murder for Two’s Kellen Blair”

Volunteer Spotlight: Susan Jackson

This is the first in an ongoing series, shining a spotlight on our many amazing volunteers. As a non-profit arts organization, we truly would not be able to do all that we do without our fabulous volunteers. Continue reading “Volunteer Spotlight: Susan Jackson”

Behind the Curtain: Rising Star Project Rehearsal

We’re lucky to be part of an amazing group of students participating in Rising Star Project: The Pajama Game. Everyone from acting students to administration students have been collaborating to ensure that the project runs smoothly and that the outcome is unforgettable for all of us. We are so excited to show you what we’ve been working on. We can’t wait to see you come and support this product on which we’ve all been working so hard. — Marketing Students Eliana Coe and Yvonne Mmata Continue reading “Behind the Curtain: Rising Star Project Rehearsal”

Creating Common Ground: Reflections on the First Day of Rising Star Project’s Empowering Young Artists Initiative (EYAI)

about-rspIn 1996, August Wilson famously stated: “We can meet on the common ground of the American theater.” He also insisted that “we must develop the ground together.”

These are the words that I can’t help but recall as I sit on the floor of our rehearsal studio surrounded by 19 young performers— the inaugural cohort of the Empowering Young Artists Initiative (EYAI)—as they meet together for the first time. Continue reading “Creating Common Ground: Reflections on the First Day of Rising Star Project’s Empowering Young Artists Initiative (EYAI)”

An Introduction to The 5th Avenue Theatre’s Writers’ Group

By MAKAELA POLLOCK

Often when I mention that I work with the Writers’ Group at The 5th, I get the response, “Cool!—So what do you guys actually DO?” The answer is both simple and huge. On the simple level, we write scenes and songs that add up to a whole musical, we give feedback to each other, we discuss what it means to create musical theater, and most importantly, we commit to being in the room with each other every other week in order to make that happen. Continue reading “An Introduction to The 5th Avenue Theatre’s Writers’ Group”

The Seven-and-a-Half Cent Solution: The Birth of the Labor Movement in America

By Gretchen Douma, Arts Writer

In 1955, The Pajama Game took home the Tony Award for Best Musical. Who would have thought that a musical humorously focusing on the labor troubles at a pajama factory would have been such a success?

But consider this. That same year, the two most powerful unions in the United States merged. The American Federation of Labor, founded in 1886 and the Committee for Industrial Organization, founded in 1935 joined forces to become the AFL-CIO, working to expand the country’s union movement and to more effectively champion workers’ rights. So maybe a musical about labor relations was a concept whose time had come. Continue reading “The Seven-and-a-Half Cent Solution: The Birth of the Labor Movement in America”

Our Mission: One-of-a-Kind Collaborations

Did you know that The 5th Avenue Theatre and ACT Theatre share an artistic collaboration unlike any other in the country? For the past seven years, our two cornerstones of Seattle’s cultural landscape have partnered to co-produce one musical each year, including First Date which went straight to Broadway. Continue reading “Our Mission: One-of-a-Kind Collaborations”

Meet the Factory: Sid and Babe

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. Today we’re introducing you to the last two members of the assembly line: Sid Sorokin and Katherine “Babe” Williams.


pg_josh-davis-webJosh Davis (Sid)

Josh is making his 5th Avenue debut with our production of The Pajama Game! Most recently, Josh was seen on Broadway as an original cast member in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Off-Broadway, Josh has graced the stage in White’s Lies and My First Time. Regional credits include Bella: An American Tall Tale, Les Miserables, Guys and Dolls and Beauty and the Beast. Josh has been seen on TV and in film in Law & OrderAs The World Turns and The Graduates. He also has an extensive voice over career with clients that include Papa John’s, Chase Sapphire, Hulu, Vizio Smart Cast, 3M, Royal Canine and Shark Week. You can find out more about Josh by following him on social media, on Twitter and on Instagram.

pg_billie-wildrick-webBillie Wildrick (Babe)

Billie Wildrick is a fan favorite here at The 5th, having graced our stage numerous times in the past. Audiences may have seen her previously at The 5th in Carousel, Guys and Dolls, Sunday in the Park with George, Pirates of Penzance, Candide, Wonderful Town, Into the Woods, Hair and Company. She has been seen on Broadway in Scandalous. You may also recognize her from her other appearances on stages around Seattle, including Vanities, First Date and Das Barbecu at ACT; and Cabaret, Lizzie Borden, Man of La Mancha and Hello, Dolly! at Village. Other regional credits include The Sound of Music and A Christmas Story at the Ordway, and The Secret Garden at Shakespeare Theatre Company. Billie has a vibrant career as a director in addition to being an actor, and for her many roles both on and off stage she has received three nominations, a Gregory and three Footlight Awards. Find out more about Billie at her website.

Check out this sneak peek at the show of Josh and Billie singing “There Once Was a Man” at our Spotlight Night for The Pajama Game.


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.

Meet the Factory: Hines, Gladys and Prez

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_greg-allen-webGreg McCormick Allen (Hines)

Portraying tap dancing, Time Study company man Hines is Greg McCormick Allen. Most recently, you saw him tapping away in Singin’ in the Rain and Billy Elliotat Village Theatre. Most recently at The 5th, Greg was part of the numerous cast members who graced our stage in last season’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. His favorite shows include White Christmas (Phil), Mary Poppins (Bert), Billy Elliot (Mr. Braithwaite) and Cinderella (Lionel, the Herald). His upcoming projects include Fire Station 7 at Seattle Children’s Theatre.

pg_sarah-rose-davis-webSarah Rose Davis (Gladys)

Sarah is no stranger to The 5th: she starred last season as Rosemary Pilkington in, you guessed it, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying! This is her 22nd show with The 5th, and some of her favorite credits include: Paint Your Wagon (Lotta), A Chorus Line (Maggie), Grease (Frenchy), RENT (Mark’s Mom), A Christmas Story (Mrs. Schwartz), CarouselJasper in Deadland (Hel) and many more! She also starred as Fanny Brice in Village Theatre’s production of Funny Girl. For more information about Sarah, visit her website.

pg_kyle-robert-carter-webKyle Robert Carter (Prez)

Kyle is stepping into the shoes of union president “Prez.” Rounding out the trifecta, Kyle was also in our production of How to Succeed… last season. Or perhaps you saw him even later last season in our revisal production of Paint Your Wagon as Wesley. Other 5th Avenue credits include Grease (Teen Angel) and Jasper in Deadland. Kyle played Benny in the National Tour of In the Heights, as well as playing the role regionally. Other regional credits include Cubamor (Renato) and Sister Act (Eddie Souther). Off-Broadway, Kyle portrayed Butch “Cobra” Brown” in Storyville. Find out more about Kyle at his website.


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.