Meet the Director: David Armstrong – The Secret Garden

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David Armstrong will be directing our spring production of The Secret Garden, which is a co-production with D.C.’s Shakespeare Theatre Company being performed there this fall. He recently directed our revisal production of Lerner & Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon.

What has been your favorite directorial experience?
Every show is my favorite when I am doing it but looking back I would say that our 5th Avenue production of Candide was one of my favorite experiences. The musicals that are very open to interpretation are usually the most rewarding.

Why this show? What is intriguing or interesting about it to you?
There are very few plays or musicals that I have directed more than once over the course of my career, but this will be my fourth time directing The Secret Garden (although I have not directed it since 1999). Everything about this show draws me in—the moving story, the incredible music and lyrics and most important the effect it has on the audience. To make people both laugh and cry in the same show is very satisfying. The musical expands several of the narrative threads and minor characters, and amplifies the Gothic mystery aspects of the novel. Like most stories, in that genre, our heroine Mary Lennox is brought to a big, dark, gloomy mansion—where secrets hide behind every door—and is thrust into a complicated relationship with a moody, tortured, romantic hero. Continue reading “Meet the Director: David Armstrong – The Secret Garden

Paint Your Wagon Pioneers

The 5th has a tremendous history of nurturing writers and composers that in turn leads to new musicals on both our stage and on Broadway. With the leadership support of the following donors, The 5th can continue investing in the next generation of writers and further our commitment to producing new works.

Thank you to our Paint Your Wagon Pioneers!


Rushing for Gold: The Shiny Siren and the American Dream

Inspired by the real-life Gold Rush of the late 1840s, Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon explores the lives of prospectors who traveled thousands of miles and spent hundreds of dollars attempting to strike it rich. The would-be miners came from all over the world and all walks of life. The stories of gold lying on the ground just waiting to be picked up were irresistible, though of course not at all a reflection of what most prospectors actually experienced. Still the lure of instant wealth was enough to bring thousands of people to the new state of California, though very few found the wealth they thought they would and many returned home penniless and disillusioned.

Continue reading “Rushing for Gold: The Shiny Siren and the American Dream”

Meet the Pioneers

Our final trio of pioneers join the wagon train today: Pearl (Brenna Wagner), and a special treat: our two Swings, Nicholas Tarabini and Carolyn Willems van Dijk! Pearl joins Timberline, Lotta and Mary as an entertainer in the area, as well as playing the character of Elisa. Swings act as understudies to basically all of the ensemble roles, which is no mean feat for Nicholas and Carolyn with such a well-rounded ensemble! (Read this great article from Playbill about the importance of a swing to any show.)

Brenna Wagner Web

We are thrilled to have Brenna here for her debut at The 5th with Paint Your Wagon! Although this is her first show here, Seattle audiences may have seen her recently in ArtsWest’s production of Violet as Violet or in Village’s productions of Mary Poppins and My Fair Lady.




Nicholas is stepping in as our male swing. You may have seen him earlier this season in our production of The Sound of Music. He’s also been seen regionally in American Idiot at ArtsWest and Next to Normal at Second Story Rep.


Carolyn Willems Van Dijk Web


Carolyn is stepping in as our female swing. She’s no stranger to this particular challenge – she was also the swing for Cinderella and ELF, as well as being seen regularly onstage in Oklahoma! and The Sound of Music.



Don’t miss Brenna, Nicholas, Carolyn, and the other gold diggers in our ‘revisal’ production of Lerner & Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon. The show runs June 2 through June 25. Visit our website for more information and to purchase tickets.

Meet the Pioneers: Silas, Timberline and Merchant Reed

Three more pioneers pursue the American Dream: Silas (Paul Flanagan), Timberline (Trina Mills) and Merchant Reed (Aaron Shanks). Silas is an immigrant from London who has come to find his fortune. Timberline arrives with the other girls with an iron will and a drive to make money. Merchant Reed is a hard working man who sells mining equipment to prospectors.



Paul is returning to The 5th Avenue stage after two forays earlier this season in How to Succeed… and The Sound of Music. Before that, Paul was already a regular on our stage before this season, having been in productions of Oliver! and A Chorus Line. You may also recognize him from The Fiddler on the Roof or Chicago at Village.


Trina Mills Web

Trina is a well-known face at The 5th, also having performed in How to Succeed earlier this year. She’s also been in our productions of West Side Story (Velma), A Chorus Line (Sheila), A Christmas StoryELF and Spamalot. Trina is pulling double duty in this show as the Dance Captain in addition to her role as Timberline. She also choreographed our production of The Sound of Music this past winter.

Aaron Shanks Web

Aaron is rounding out this trio nicely by also having been in How to Succeed…! What a reunion! Before that, you may have seen him in A Christmas StoryCarousel or Pirates of Penzance. Audiences may also recognize him from other regional roles at Village, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Showtunes Theatre, Tacoma Opera, Spectrum Dance Theatre, or numerous cabarets and concerts.

Don’t miss Paul, Trina, Aaron, and the other dreamers in our ‘revisal’ production of Lerner & Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon. The show runs June 2 through June 25. Visit our website for more information and to purchase tickets.

Meet the Pioneers: Nathaniel, Lotta and Vlad

Three more No Name City citizens join the ranks: Nathaniel (Ethan Carpenter), Lotta (Sarah Rose Davis) and Vlad (Eric Esteb). Nathaniel travels from Cleveland to find a new home (and hopefully gold) in California. Lotta arrives with several other ladies, all of whom are entertainers for Jake’s Palace of Pleasure on Main Street. Vlad is an immigrant from Poland who is driven and determined to make his way in a new country.

Ethan Carpenter Web


Ethan is returning to our stage after making his debut last season in A Chorus Line. His other Seattle credits include Les Miserables, Funny Girl and My Fair Lady at Village, and The Fantasticks at Showtunes.



Sarah Rose Davis Web

Sarah is no stranger to The 5th: she was seen earlier this season as lovelorn secretary Rosemary Pilkington in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Other favorites at The 5th include A Chorus Line (Maggie) and Grease (Frenchy), among others! Sarah has also been seen at Village in Funny Girl as Fanny Brice.

Eric Esteb Web


Eric is a regular here, having most recently been in our production of A Chorus Line last season. Other 5th Ave credits include Little Shop of Horrors, Spamalot, Secondhand Lions and others! Eric is also an aerialist with his partner Quynbi, who perform together under the name Duo Reves.


Don’t miss Ethan, Sarah, Eric, and the other new California citizens in our ‘revisal’ production of Lerner & Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon. The show runs June 2 through June 25. Visit our website for more information and to purchase tickets.

Meet the Pioneers: Deza, Angus and Chee Weng

Three more hope to strike it rich in California: Deza (Kyle Bernbach), Angus (Jared Michael Brown) and Chee Weng (Ulyber Mangune). Deza hails from Peru who was already a miner in Chile, and arrives carrying lots of knowledge of how to be effective at mining. Angus has traveled across the country from the mid-West in hopes of finding gold. Chee Weng is originally from Hong Kong, where he first learned English, and hopes to achieve the American Dream.

Kyle Bernbach WebKyle was seen earlier this year in our production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, as well as last season’s productions of Jasper in DeadlandCarousel and A Chorus Line. He was part of the Broadway and First National Tour casts of Memphis.


JMB Headshot


Jared (who is pulling triple duty by playing Angus, understudying Jake AND serving as Fight Captain for the show) was at The 5th earlier this season in The Sound of Music. Other 5th Avenue credits include Jasper in DeadlandOliver!Secondhand LionsPirates of Penzance and Oklahoma!.

Ulyber Mangune Web


Ulyber is returning to The 5th after previous performances in A Christmas Story and Secondhand Lions. He was trained by Sheri Lewis at Westlake Dance Center, as well as Benjamin Bentler and Marianna Groves.



Don’t miss Kyle, Jared, Ulyber, and the other prospectors in our ‘revisal’ production of Lerner & Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon. The show runs June 2 through June 25. Visit our website for more information and to purchase tickets.

The Life of A ‘Revisal’: An Interview With the Paint Your Wagon Creative Team


Over the course of several years, Director David Armstrong, Writer Jon Marans, Music Supervisor and Vocal Arranger Ian Eisendrath and Choreographer Josh Rhodes worked together to develop and re-write a new version of the Lerner and Loewe musical, Paint Your Wagon. I sat down with them recently to talk about the process of recreating a classic. Continue reading “The Life of A ‘Revisal’: An Interview With the Paint Your Wagon Creative Team”

What Is A ‘Revisal’?


Lerner & Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon is being revived-brought back to life-on our stage, but it is also going through an extensive revision. When we combine a revival and revision, we get a revisal!

This is not the first musical from the past to receive this kind of renovation. The current Broadway smash Shuffle Along is a revisal of a legendary 1921 Broadway hit. The new version dynamically incorporates the original show’s classic songs into a brand new book that was just nominated for a Tony Award. Continue reading “What Is A ‘Revisal’?”

Meet the Pioneers: Jameson, Mary and Craig

Three more pioneers journey west: Jameson Woodling (Allen Fitzpatrick), Mary (Taryn Darr) and Craig (Eli Lotz). Jameson Woodling is the husband of Cayla, until she frees herself from him. (Allen is pulling double duty, also portraying Craig’s Dad.) Mary is one of the ladies who comes to town after the miners have set up camp. (Taryn is also pulling double duty, starting out as Sarah Woodling, the second wife of Jameson Woodling.) Craig is a young man who travels west with his father, both hoping to make a new start for their family.

Allen Fitzpatrick WebPortraying Jameson Woodling is 5th Avenue veteran, Allen Fitzpatrick. Most recently on our stage, Allen was seen as big boss himself Biggley in How to Succeed… He has over forty appearances on Seattle stages, including 21 here at The 5th. Allen was also a regular on Broadway, having performed in ten shows on the Great White Way. He is also the Artistic Director of the Icicle Creek New Play Festival. You can find out more about him at

Taryn Darr WebTaryn Darr is also no stranger to our stage, having also been seen earlier this season in How to Succeed… Some of her other favorite roles at The 5th include A Chorus Line (Val), White Christmas (Judy), Jasper in Deadland (Secretary Hathaway), ELF, Catch Me… and Spamalot. Taryn has also been seen regionally in Chicago (Roxie), Legally Blonde (Brooke), South Pacific (Nellie) and Something Rotten (NYC Lab).

Eli Lotz Web

Eli is returning to The 5th for the first time this year, but he’s practically a veteran of our stage at this point: he has been in our productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Oliver!, as well as the Rising Star Project: Spamalot. Eli has also been seen in A Christmas Carol at ACT, and has been involved with over 30 shows at Edmonds Heights K-12.

Don’t miss Allen, Taryn, Eli, and the other pioneers, in our ‘revisal’ production of Lerner & Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon. The show runs June 2 through June 25. Visit our website for more information and to purchase tickets.