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 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”
On January 8th, The 5th’s Executive Producer and Artistic Director, David Armstrong hosted the annual Director’s Dinner and presented a discussion on The Art of Making Music. Fifty Director’s Circle members gathered on the historic 5th Avenue stage to enjoy a festive dinner by Duos and participate in a discussion with Larry Blank, Jason deBord, and Ian Eisendrath.
The theme of the evening was focused on how the music makes a musical. Our guests learned about the impact orchestrators, conductors, musical directors, and dance arrangers play in shaping the story on stage.
Mr. Blank received a Drama Desk Award for orchestrations for A Christmas Story (which premiered at The 5th in 2010) and has been nominated for both the Tony Award® and the Drama Desk Award for his orchestrations in The Drowsy Chaperone, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, and Catch Me If You Can (also heard at the 5th Avenue).
Mr. deBord was the Resident Music Supervisor for Once, as well as conductor/music director for RENT and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. At The 5th, he was associate music director and associate conductor on Shrek – The Musical, dance arranger for Yankee Doodle Dandy and is joining the team as dance arranger for with the upcoming production of Paint Your Wagon.
Mr. Eisendrath is The 5th Avenue’s Music Supervisor and Alhadeff Family Director of New Works. Most recently, he was the music supervisor conductor and arranger for the highly acclaimed Seattle Repertory Theatre and LaJolla Playhouse co-production of Come From Away, a new musical developed here at the 5th Avenue.
This once a year opportunity to engage with artists and explore the 5th Avenue stage in its raw form was a fun and informative experience enjoyed by all!
For more information on how you can become a Circles member, please call Christine Johnson at 206.260.2171.
The holidays are a festive time, a time for thanksgiving, for family and for cheer. And what provides more joy than a good old holiday musical? Throughout the years, The 5th has produced a number of musicals during the holidays, but here are three of our favorites. Continue reading “Holiday Musicals at The 5th Avenue Theatre”
Whether you’re an artist to be envied or an occasional crafter, these projects range from 30 minute setups to multi-day endeavors! Perfect as a gift (for yourself or someone else!), have fun getting your craft on!
The von Trapps Visit the Emerald City
While on Tour in the 1940s
Recently, Marlys McDonald, the Wardrobe Master here at The 5th, discovered a rare and auspicious gem amongst her family archives: original programs from the 1940s when the real-life Trapp Family Singers visited Seattle. And she found them just in time for our revival of The Sound of Music!