Behind the Curtain: Q & A With Pajama Game Costume Designer Rose Pederson

Rose Pederson is back at The 5th for The Pajama Game. She made her debut last season with another workplace musical comedy: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Rose’s designs have been seen in other local theatres, including 47 shows at Seattle Repertory, 28 shows at ACT Theatre, and productions at Intiman Theatre, New Century Theatre and Seattle Children’s Theatre. She has also worked extensively in regional theaters across the nation, including the Broadway production of Largely New York, the Kennedy Center, Arizona Theatre Company, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Portland Center Stage, Artists Repertory Theatre, Playmakers Repertory Company and The Merc Playhouse.

She took some time to answer a few questions about the costumes for The Pajama Game.


Tell us a bit about your vision for the costumes in The Pajama Game.

I originally talked with Bill Berry about the show and how we saw the “look.” We decided it would be real clothes, based on research of the period. I found many pictures of women working in factories in the Midwest in 1954. I also was able to use the Public Library picture file which has a collection of magazine articles, calendars, news articles, etc. from the period. Sometimes there are treasures there that can’t be found on the internet. My favorite finds were from the category of picnics. Continue reading “Behind the Curtain: Q & A With Pajama Game Costume Designer Rose Pederson”

Can You Succeed…? with Michael Brown and Vicki Giles Fabre

Can you succeed in business without really trying? Rising Star Project students are considering this right now, as they prepare for their production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying this weekend. Our Community Engagement Specialist Kwapi Vengesayi wanted to find out as well. Completing this three-part series, we meet Michael Brown and Vicki Giles Fabre and hear what they have to say.


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.

MICHAEL BROWN

Michael Brown is the Vice President of Community Programs at The Seattle Foundation. From 1997 to 2000, he served as a legislative aide to City of Seattle Councilmember Richard McIver. Michael also served as Deputy Director for the Washington Association for Community Economic Development, a non-profit organization that provided training and technical assistance to statewide community-based development organizations. Throughout his career, he has been devoted to work that positively impacts and uplifts diverse communities. A native of New Orleans, Michael received his Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington and his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Loyola University (New Orleans). Michael is a board member of Building Changes, Impact Capital, the King County Housing Authority and the Washington State Budget and Policy Center.

Hear what Brown had to say about mentors, being the best you can be and surrounding yourself with intelligent people.

VICKI GILES FABRE

Vicki Giles Fabre is the Executive Vice President of the Washington State Auto Dealers Association (WSADA). Prior to joining the team at WSADA, Fabre worked as legislative counsel and held various administrative positions with the Washington State Legislature. Fabre has also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Seattle, King County, Snohomish County YWCA, and for the Washington Federation of Highway Users.

In this interview, Fabre 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

Can You Succeed…? with Ethan Stowell and Stephen Krempl

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

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

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

Flashback Friday: Sarah Rudinoff: From the Palace to the Steno Pool

Sarah SelfieHow to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying opened on January 28 on our stage, and there are MANY familiar faces and remarkable talents.

One of the stellar cast is our friend Sarah Rudinoff, checking in as sassy secretary—and Rosemary’s best friend—Smitty. Here’s a sneak peek of Sarah in one of her costumes!

But Sarah is no stranger to The 5th. Previous roles include Ruth in Wonderful Town, Hildy in On the Town.

And remember when she graced our stage in Cinderella? Watch a clip from “The Stepsisters’ Lament” below!

Catch Sarah and the rest of the steno pool in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, open NOW at The 5th Avenue. Find out more information and purchase tickets at http://www.5thavenue.org.

Can You Succeed…? with Roger Levesque and Mary Knell

Can you succeed in business without really trying? Our Community Engagement Specialist, Kwapi Vengesayi wanted to find out. In this first of a three-part series, we meet Roger Levesque and Mary Knell 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 with my little camera and tripod to ask a few inspirational people from diverse backgrounds and professions a few questions about their success. Here were their answers.

ROGER LEVESQUE

Roger Levesque is the Director of Community Outreach with Sounders FC (Football Club), the official soccer team of Seattle. He graduated from Stanford University where he played soccer for the Cardinals and was named second-team All-American at the end of his junio year. He was drafted by the Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes before joining the Sounders. After he stopped playing, he took time off from the soccer world and earned his Master’s degree at the UW Foster School of Business. Since coming back into the organization, Levesque has endeavored to strengthen the club’s presence in the community, spearheading many community focused initiatives and programs.

Hear what Levesque had to say about succeeding in business in the video below.

MARY KNELL

Mary Knell is the Chief Executive Officer of Wells Fargo’s Washington and Western Canada Commercial Banking teams. She is a Seattle native and graduated from the University of Washington. While in college she worked part-time as a teller and after completing her studies, she continued to work in the banking industry. Her involvement in the community and the initiatives she champions have undoubtedly inspired and empowered girls and young women who will be tomorrow’s CEOs and leaders in the business world.

Mary’s advice for succeeding in business? You can never be too prepared, but it’s still important to be flexible! Listen to some other suggestions Mary has in the video below.


Produced by KWAPI VENGESAYI, Community Engagement Specialist

A Rather Sticky Wicket [RECIPE]

In honor of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, and all the personnel at the World Wide Wicket Company, enjoy this recipe for the Sticky Wicket. This smoky variation on an Old Fashioned is the perfect cocktail after a long day at work. Or you can take a page from Mad Men’s book and put it together while you’re still at the office—if you happen to have maple syrup handy.

 

Sticky Wicket Cocktail Recipe1516_H2$_Sticky Wicket

1/2 ounce soda water

1/2 ounce maple syrup

1/4 Fernet-Branca bitters

4 dashes barrel-aged bitters

Orange peel

2 ounces Jim Beam bourbon (or bourbon of your choosing)

 

Pour all ingredients on the rocks in a lowball glass and stir. Squeeze orange peel over drink, then garnish.

It’s been a long day. You deserve to treat yourself. Enjoy!

Come see our Jolly Wickets and Wickettes at work in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, playing through February 21! Buy tickets here: www.5thavenue.org/show/how-to-succeed.

The Many Faces of J. Pierrepont Finch

Many recognizable faces have taken on the role of J. Pierrepont Finch, the window washer who aspires to succeed in business while doing as little as possible to deserve it. Read more about some of the most famous faces of Finch.

Faces-of-Finch_Robert
Robert Morse was the first to play J. Pierrepont Finch. His iconic performance of the role is revered by many. He won the Tony Award® for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical in 1962. He would later go on to play Pierrepont in the 1967 movie adaptation of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying.

Faces-of-Finch_Matthew
Matthew Broderick played J. Pierrepont Finch in the 1995 Broadway Revival of How to Succeed, a performance which won him the Tony Award® for Best Leading Actor in a Musical. A then relatively unknown actress named Megan Mullally played opposite Broderick as Rosemary Pilkington. Mullally was succeeded by Broderick’s soon-to-be wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, allowing the lovebirds to share the stage for a brief time.

Faces-of-Finch_Dan
From Hogwarts to the World Wide Wicket Company! The Harry Potter star played J. Pierrepont in the second Broadway revival from 2011 to 2012. Radcliffe himself received critical acclaim for his portrayal, winning the Broadway.com Audience Award for Favorite Actor in A Broadway Play, and the production was nominated for eight Tony Awards® in 2011.

Faces-of-Finch_Darren
In January of 2012, Broadway went from Harry Potter to Glee when they cast Darren Criss as the new Pierrepont. This was Criss’s Broadway debut and his performance did not disappoint. The heartthrob was a major box office draw, selling out several performances and leaving the stage door to be greeted by throngs of fans. He would go on to in win Broadway.com’s Favorite Replacement Award.

Faces-of-Finch_Nick
Follow Darren Criss’ limited engagement, Nick Jonas replaced him as the young, charismatic window washer and played the role until the end of the revival’s run in May. Jonas is no stranger to Broadway; when he was seven years old, he was cast as a young Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. His other Broadway credits include Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast and Annie Get Your Gun.

Faces-of-Finch_Eric
Eric Ankrim plays J Pierrepont Finch in The 5th Avenue production of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. This isn’t Eric’s first time on The 5th Avenue stage. His 5th Avenue credits include: Jacques Brel, Carousel, First Date, Oklahoma!, RENT, Into the Woods, The Rocky Horror Show and Miss Saigon. He has also directed for The 5th, helming our celebrated productions of ELF – The Musical and Grease. Ankrim reprised the role he originated in First Date, presented by The 5th and ACT, during the Broadway run of the musical comedy.

Don’t miss Eric Ankrim as Finch in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, playing at The 5th until February 21. Critics say “it’s a big fat hit” that “had the audience screaming with laughter.” Read more and buy tickets here.

Graphics by KEVIN HARRIS, Graphic Designer

Women in the Workplace: Just How Far Have We Come?

A woman running for president. A woman heading the Federal Reserve. Three women sitting on the Supreme Court. Women CEOs leading Fortune 500 companies. These are not positions that women held (or even thought possible) back in 1961, the year that Loesser and Burrows’ How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying took Broadway by storm.

Lady Justice
Left to right: Current female Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Elena Kagan

The world of women in the corporate workplace and in our American culture was decidedly different then than it is in 2016, and those differences are deftly captured in the characters of this satirical musical. The three main female figures – Rosemary, Smitty and Hedy – each represent a different kind of “working woman.” To paraphrase the old Virginia Slims cigarette ads, “We’ve come a long way, baby.” Or have we?

The answer is both yes and no. The timeline of selected  milestones for women in the United States shows that much of our progress is relatively recent and often slow moving. Consider that our country was effectively established in 1776, but women in the U.S. only received the vote in 1920. It took 144 years (!) for women to have the right to participate in our electoral process as equals to men.

If that is surprising, consider these five things women couldn’t do as recently as 1961:

  • Get a credit card. A bank could refuse to issue a credit card to an unmarried woman. If the woman was married, the bank could insist that her husband cosign her application.
  • Serve on a jury. At the time women were considered too fragile to handle the graphic details of crime and too sympathetic in nature to be objective. In fact, in 1961 the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a Florida ruling exempting women from serving on juries. It took until 1973 for women to be able to serve on juries in all 50 states.
  • Get the birth control pill. Though it was approved for use as a contraceptive in 1960, the pill was still illegal in some states and restricted to married women in others. It took several more years before the pill was approved for all women in all states regardless of their marital status.
  • Attend an Ivy League university. Yale and Princeton didn’t accept women until 1969. Harvard didn’t accept women until 1977. Columbia didn’t admit women until 1981. Women’s Ivy League options were limited to all-women’s colleges such as Radcliffe and Barnard (albeit excellent schools) until late in the 20th century.
  • Expect and experience equality in the workplace. The landmark 1963 Kennedy Commission on the Status of Women revealed that women earned 59 cents for every dollar men earned and were routinely passed over for advancement. (In case you think that things have evened up, current research shows that women today still only earn 78 cents for every dollar men earn in comparable positions.) And Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender as well as race wasn’t passed until 1964.
First Wave Feminists
Left to right: Gloria Steinem, Rep. Shirley Chisholm, Betty Friedan at the National Women’s Political Caucus news conference in July 1971

All of this is to say that the characters in How to Succeed in Business… are reflections of a time and place that was on the verge of radical change. The 20th century women’s movement, which gathered real momentum in the 1960s and 1970s thanks to the work of such First Wave feminists as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, changed opportunities and expectations for women, as well as helped women to see themselves very differently than they had before. Here’s how Friedan described a woman’s dilemma at the time: “A woman today has been made to feel freakish and alone and guilty if, simply, she wants to be more than her husband’s wife.”

When looking at Loesser and Burrow’s musical, It’s important to acknowledge that first and foremost, the musical is a satire. Its inspiration is a satirical “self-help” book of the same title that was intended to poke fun at both the hypocrisies of office politics and of self-help books in general. J.Pierrepont Finch and his brotherhood of men are funny precisely because they are recognizable, if exaggerated, types – the clever conniver, the clueless boss, the brown-nosing yes man. But the underlying assumption about all of the men in this workplace is that they belong there. The women of this world are types too – the spinster, the sweetheart, the gold digger. But the underlying cultural assumption at the time this musical was first produced was that women mainly belonged in the kitchen, not in the corporate board room.

When we look at How to Succeed in Business … through today’s lens, we look at it with very different assumptions about women’s place in business and society at large. No longer do the Smittys, Rosemarys and Hedys of the world have to limit their dreams to children, a house with a white picket fence and a husband who earns (and controls) all the money, the opportunities and the accolades. The glass ceiling that kept women in the steno pool has fractured and women have risen far beyond what Smitty, Rosemary and Hedy could have ever imagined.

By GRETCHEN DOUMA, Contributing Writer
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying Photo by Mark Kitaoka
Photo of Supreme Court Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Kagan courtesy The New York Times (Credit: Steve Petteway, Supreme Court, via Associated Press)
Photo of Steinem, Chisholm, Friedan courtesy The Washington Post (Credit: Charles Gorry/AP)

How to Write a Satire By Being Really, Really Smart

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a textbook example (if textbooks were hilariously funny) of the standard definition, and a sharp refutation of Kaufman’s gloomy prediction. But it’s understandable why Kaufman made his cynical joke. He was a writer and director, and satires usually appeal more to authors than to the public. Theatergoers stubbornly prefer to go home after a musical cheered and uplifted, rather than reflecting bitterly on “foolishness or vice.”

But if a show is sufficiently nimble and its satirical arrows hit the bull’s-eye, even political and governmental shenanigans can lift the spirits. George and Ira Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing proved the point in 1931, when it combined a presidential campaign with a beauty contest, the winners to be married at the inauguration. Of Thee I Sing became one of the few smash hits of the Depression years. (Ironically, it was directed by Mr. Kaufman.) Continue reading “How to Write a Satire By Being Really, Really Smart”

Frank Loesser

Frank LoesserFRANK LOESSER was a short, pugnacious tough guy who peppered his speech with New York street slang and carried himself like one of the lovable hoodlums from his own musical Guys and Dolls. Meeting him, you might assume he was a lower-class denizen of the outer boroughs, someone who had worked his way up the show-biz ladder driven by hunger and chutzpah.

But if Frank took you home to meet the folks, you would enter a cultured Manhattan residence and shake hands with his father, a well-known professor of music; his mother, who gave lectures on modern literature; and his older stepbrother, a renowned concert pianist. Frank was the outlier of the family—not exactly a black sheep, but the son who chose a different path and created a persona to match.

That path was popular music. At first, he wrote only lyrics, working for $100 a week—a job he later described as “a rendezvous with failure.” In 1936, he placed a song in a Broadway revue. The show folded quickly but the song caught the attention of Paramount Pictures, who put him under contract. He was 25 years old and working in Hollywood! Continue reading “Frank Loesser”