By KWAPI VENGESAYI, Community Engagement Specialist
During the run of the Tony Award winning musical, Fun Home, The 5th Avenue Theatre hosted a series of insightful free-to-the-community events. Featuring presentations, spoken word performances and guest panels with Gay City, PFLAG, ArtsWest and other community leaders, these events explored themes from the show and discussed topics related to the Seattle LGBTQ community and experiences. A huge thanks to our amazing community partners and sponsors, Bank of America and Virginia Mason, who helped make these special community events possible. Below are few moments captured from our Celebrating PRIDE at The 5th event series:
Featuring a diverse group of spoken word artists, Gay City hosted a community talk that showcased the artistic voices of poets from the LGBTQ community as they shared their powerful stories and observations
Hosted by The 5th Avenue Theatre’s Artistic Associate Albert Evans, our Show Talks shone a spotlight on one of the most celebrated women in musical theater, composer, producer and arranger, Jeanine Tesori
Featuring guest panelists from the Greater Seattle Business Association, Pride Foundation, Seattle Men’s and Women’s Chorus, Bank of America and Virginia Mason, this Out in the 21st Century was an event that explored portrayals of LGBTQ people in media and art and the presence of LGBTQ people in an industry, discipline or social sphere
Titled Fun Clinic: The Personal is Clinical and hosted by Virginia Mason, this event had presenters share their personal stories and efforts to right health disparity and inequity among the LGBTQ community
Hosted by Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and moderated by Viola, this community talk allowed those in the audience to hear the coming out stories of three out and proud members of Seattle’s LGBTQ community – Kevin, Sara and Ginger
Located in Seattle, The 5th Avenue Theatre is one of the nation’s leading musical theater companies with a deep commitment to creating Broadway-caliber productions and developing the nation’s new musical theater. Since 2011, The 5th has premiered 17 new musicals, nine of which have gone on to Broadway including Best Musical Tony Award-winners Hairspray and Memphis. Creating live theater that serves our community is expensive, and like most theaters in the country, cannot be funded through ticket sales alone. We are proud to say that the NEA has been with us, supporting us along the way. Their financial support has been invaluable, allowing us to engage and entertain an audience of over 300,000 each year. Over 11 years, the NEA has provided us with 11 unique grants totaling $435,000 that support our projects. Some of these include our 2011 commission, Rosie the Riveter, which traveled to elementary and middle schools across Washington; our 2016 “revisal” of Paint Your Wagon that featured a brand new book; and our 2017 reimagining of The Secret Garden, currently poised for a Broadway revival.
The 5th Avenue Theatre spent the weekend at the Northwest Women’s Show, talking to attendees about our upcoming shows in the 2016/17 season. Folks were really excited to hear about our World Premiere musical, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion! Based on the popular 1997 movie about quirky best friends on their way to their 10 year high school reunion, we are proud to present the musical’s premiere to Seattle audiences first!
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. Continue reading “Accessibility at The 5th”
By ORLANDO MORALES, Director of Rising Star Project and Internships
This fall marked the premiere of the 10-Minute Musical Project, The 5th’s newest education initiative focused on empowering Washington state students (ages 14-19) and supporting their future achievement by introducing them to the process of writing, workshopping and presenting brand new musicals.
By ORLANDO MORALES, Director of Rising Star Project and Internships
Eight high school students and two adult mentors are seated around a large table in The 5th Avenue’s Rehearsal Studio B. Everyone has a freshly photocopied script in hand. Old scripts and well-worn notepads are strewn across the table. Otherwise, the fluorescentlylit studio is an unassuming space, furnished with some chairs, a large folding table and an upright piano waiting in the corner. Yet the room transforms as the students begin to read from the draft of a recently written scene.
The 5th Avenue Theatre, one of the nation’s leading musical theater companies, has significant economic impact on the Seattle area. A numbers study done by the theater, in partnership with the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, indicates that The 5th infuses $27.3 million annually into the local economy.
Thank you to the generous corporations, foundations, government agencies, board members, and countless individual donors who supported our education programs this season. With your help we reached over 83,000 students across the Pacific Northwest region, increased our service by 14% and kept our thriving programs accessible to all students.
Can you succeed in business without really trying? Our Community Engagement Specialist Kwapi Vengesayi wanted to find out. In the second of a three-part series, we meet Ethan Stowell and Stephen Krempl and hear what they have to say. It’s interesting to consider how many of these suggestions and recommendations for succeeding in business are applicable to working in the arts as well!
Inspired by our production of How To Succeed in Business without Really Trying, I went out into the community to ask a few inspirational people from diverse backgrounds and professions a few questions about their success. Here were their answers.
Ethan Stowell is the executive chef and owner of Ethan Stowell Restaurants. His highly acclaimed restaurants include Tavolàta, How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies & Olives, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, Ballard Pizza Company, Rione XIII, Bar Cotto, Mkt., REd Cow, Frēlard Pizza Company, and Braming Cross, as well as Goldfinch Tavern in Four Seasons Hotel Seattle. His food philosophy is all about keeping it simple, using fresh ingredients and allowing the food to do the talking. Deeply devoted to his hometown, Stowell is a fervent advocate committed to seeing that Seattle is recognized nationally as a culinary destination.
Hear what Stowell had to say about hard work, surrounding yourself with good people, and loving what you do in the video below.
Stephen Krempl is a speaker, author, consultant, and the President and CEO of Krempl Communications International (KCI). Krempl acquired his global perspective and unique style over two decades of service with Fortune 500 companies including Motorola, PepsiCo Restaurants, YUM Brands and Starbucks, where he was Chief Learning Officer and VP of Global Learning. He has now dedicated much of his time and expertise working with college students—in seminars, workshops and training opportunities—in an effort to help them figure out what is expected of them in the work world.
In this interview, Krempl explains how theater and real life are the same and how strategies for succeeding in business are often the same as those for succeeding in theater.
Produced by KWAPI VENGESAYI, Community Engagement Specialist
The Rising Star Project was first presented in 2011, and since 2013 it has grown and developed in partnership with The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation. While preparing for this year’s Rising Star Project—our fifth year mentoring Washington teenagers—we chat with Sheri and Les about their hopes and goals for the program to continue creating new opportunities for students, the community and the theater.
“Musical theater is America’s art form. It’s our quilt,” says Sheri with a smile. “It has enabled us to share stories and discuss social issues through every critical period in our nation’s history. This is why it’s so important that we continue nourishing the growth of musical theater.”
The Rising Star Project is part of a diverse and ambitious portfolio of initiatives led by The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation. Driven by a mission to invest in bold ideas that inspire collective action in order to achieve powerful results, the Foundation makes grants to numerous organizations in Washington State and Los Angeles County.
Les: “We work in four areas—supportive care, public education, career training and theater arts. We want to try to do as much as we can in these areas to benefit the community and to advance positive and sustainable change.”
The story of how theater enrichment—and more specifically, Rising Star Project—has become an integral part of the Foundation’s vision begins with Sheri’s childhood:
Sheri: “Theater was a big part of my youth. It was important to my family. As a child and as a teenager, I had my share of issues and got bored in school. But one of the things that saved me was being around theater, being involved in theater, and performing in theater. Having this creative outlet helped me learn how to express myself, and in such a positive way.”
Les: “I came to theater through Sheri. It wasn’t necessarily a part of my childhood—but through Sheri, I became a lover of theater and musical theater. Sheri also brought into focus for me how theater can have a social impact.”
The beginning of a new partnership
Sheri: “Because I have firsthand experience with the importance of exposure to theater as a young person, we seek to support inspiring theatre productions with immersive educational components. We believe that students need to have the arts in their lives if they are to become well-rounded adults.
What caught our attention about Rising Star Project is that it isn’t just an arts program. We realized it touched on all four pillars of our Foundation’s work—theater, public education, job training and, as far as I’m concerned, supportive care as well. It embraces young people and can help them deal with issues in their lives. It’s very supportive in that sense. And exactly the kind of program we needed to become involved with.”
Collaboration, new ideas, and lots of fun
Les: “We love Rising Star Project because it teaches life skills. We like that it brings kids from different parts of our community together in a unique setting where they learn how to work together as a team and gain self-confidence while doing it. The other part of Rising Star Project that we are very proud of is when we bring new audiences from local schools lacking access to arts programming into the theater. The students see themselves reflected in the people their age on stage and behind the scenes.”
Sheri: “But Les and I also value the act of collaborating with others. Trying to create collaboration between an arts organization and a foundation may have its challenges, but the important thing is that people are willing to work together and try new ideas. And that also makes it a lot of fun.”
Sheri also draws a connection between the Rising Star Project partnership and the collaborative nature that is intrinsic to musical theater.
Sheri: “If we’re making a musical, it’s not just about having great voices and great performers. There are so many other important roles that are required for this to succeed. Most students don’t understand that. Most adults don’t understand that. When they go to a musical, most people only notice the orchestra and the actors standing on the stage. And of course, that is only a small piece of the puzzle. There are many squares on the quilt.”
“And now we’re back to talking about quilts,” she laughs.
Stories for the future
Sheri: “Another dream for Rising Star Project and this partnership is in the possibility of encouraging other communities to do this as well. In the coming years, could we multiply tenfold the number of students who can participate? We want to work with The 5th to create an example—the model for others to follow.”
Les: “It’s important work. We have thousands of years of history. And history is a form of storytelling—whether it’s done in a verbal way, or visual way, or done through performing a musical. We’re telling stories and that’s how history and values get passed down from generation to generation.
“My other hope is that while this important work is happening, the broader community will realize what it’s about and will also want to get involved and support it. We hope that the Rising Star Project story is one that is widely told and widely known and that many people will want to be a part of the story as well.”
Click here to buy tickets for the Rising Star Project’s performances of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Or click here to find out more about the Rising Star Project.
By ORLANDO MORALES, Director of Rising Star Project and Internships