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FUN HOME, THE SECRET GARDEN & More Set for 5th Avenue Theatre's 2016-17 Season


With nearly 2000 subscribers in attendance, The 5th Avenue Theatre Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong revealed the season line-up for its 7-show 2016/17 season. "This year, we are proud to celebrate the 90th anniversary of this historic theater in Downtown Seattle with a spectacular season that truly covers the breadth and depth of our great indigenous art form-The Musical," said Armstrong. "This season will include seven exciting new musicals-five of them never before seen on our stage, including three Northwest premieres and one world premiere. Five of the musicals in this season are inspired by acclaimed works of literature, both classic and contemporary. And women are front and center this season as writers, composers, lyricists, directors,choreographers, and as central characters in the stories we will tell."

"The season will start a little later than normal," Armstrong added, "with the first performances taking place in October. And there's an exciting reason for that! Our beloved theater turns 90 this fall and has been showing its age. Keeping in mind our responsibility as stewards of this historic venue and the comfort the 300,000 patrons who walk through our doors each year, The 5th is making a major investment in improving our facilities. We believe this will move us into the Next Stage of great musical theater at The 5th and will radically improve our patron experience." This summer, The 5th Avenue Theatre will kick off the Next Stage campaign by replacing its aging sound system as well as expanding the lobby and adding additional restrooms, all to be complete before the first performance of the 2016/17 season.

The 2016/17 season opens with one of the most epic and enduring musicals of all time, Man of La Mancha (October 7-30, 2016) with book by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion and music by Mitch Leigh. Not seen on The 5th Avenue stage for 20 years, this glorious tribute to the resilience of the human spirit will be helmed by an all female creative team including director Allison Narver, whose work on The 5th Avenue stage includes the critically-acclaimed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and choreographer Maria Torres (associate choreographer of Broadway's On Your Feet). Featuring stirring classic songs including "The Impossible Dream" and "Dulcinea," Man of La Mancha is a multi-Tony Award-winning theatrical masterpiece that first debuted on Broadway in 1965. It has since been revived four times and is performed around the world in fifteen languages. Inspired by one of the greatest novels in Western literature, Man of La Mancha enters the mind and world of the mad knight Don Quixote as he pursues his quest for the impossible dream. In a tale told by Cervantes himself, Quixote is against all odds, a man who sees good and innocence in a world filled with darkness and despair.

This holiday season, audiences will take a trip to the tropics at The 5th with Disney's The Little Mermaid (November 23-December 31, 2016). Headstrong Ariel is no longer content to live on the ocean floor under her father, King Triton's rule. Convinced she'll only find happiness on land, she sets off to find a world where she belongs, battling a cruel sea witch and finding true love along the way. Based on the beloved 1989 animated film, this magical family treasure features a book by Doug Wright with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater. All of the familiar Academy Award-winning hits including "Kiss the Girl," "Part of Your World," and the dazzling show stopper, "Under the Sea," are present in this fairytale production, in addition to new songs written for the stage. Disney's the Little Mermaid opened on Broadway in 2008 and was revamped for a production at Paper Mill Playhouse in 2013. The 5th's production will utilize the new book and score, and will feature the Paper Mill's colorful costumes, beautiful pop-up book inspired set designs, and stunning special effects that can only be described as pure magic. This stunning holiday production be directed by Glenn Casale.

The 5th Avenue Theatre rolls out the new year with that swinging musical theater classic, The Pajama Game (February 9-March 5, 2017) a musical that "goes down as easily and intoxicatingly as spiked lemonade at a summer picnic" (The New York Times), directed by 5th Avenue Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry. In this Golden Age of Broadway hit making its 5th Avenue debut, a labor furor over a 7 ½ cent pay raise at a pajama plant complicates the course of true love for Sid Sorokin, the new factory superintendent, and Babe Williams, the feisty firebrand heading the Union Grievance Committee. The show that defined Fosse style with seductive dance numbers like "Steam Heat" and "Hernando's Hideaway," this critically acclaimed musical won three Tony Awards including Best Choreography and Best Musical when it opened in 1954. The brassy, jazzy score includes the timeless hits "Hey There" and "There Once Was a Man" performed by a sensational Seattle cast. The Pajama Game features a book by George Abbott and Richard Bissell with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, and is based on the popular novel 7 ½ Cents by Richard Bissell.

In its seventh annual co-production with ACT - A Contemporary Theatre, The 5th will present the Northwest premiere of Murder for Two (March 25-June 4), a side-splitting musical comedy to die for! Everyone is a suspect in Murder for Two-a drop-dead funny musical murder mystery with a twist: One actor investigates the crime; the other plays all the suspects-and they both play the piano! A zany blend of classic musical comedy and madcap mystery, this ninety-minute whodunit is a highly theatrical duet loaded with killer laughs. Called "ingenious" by The New York Times, Murder for Two is the perfect blend of murder, music and mayhem. Murder for Two has a book by Kellen Blair and Joe Kinosian with music by Joe Kinosian and lyrics by Kellen Blair. The show had its world premiere in 2011 at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre where it extended four times and ran for more than six months. Murder for Two opened Off-Broadway at New World Stages in October 2013 to great critical acclaim. It was hailed as "A charmingly frenetic new musical comedy" by Entertainment Weekly and "a hilarious musical whodunit" by the New York Observer.

Spring blooms at The 5th Avenue Theatre with a hauntingly beautiful new presentation of The Secret Garden (April 14-May 6, 2017), a co-production with Washington D.C.'s Tony Award-winning Shakespeare Theatre Company directed by 5th Avenue Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong. With book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winner Marsha Norman and music by Lucy Simon, this captivating show will mesmerize audiences of all ages and transport you to a world where beauty and love blossom, and a forgotten seed of life can still flourish. Based on the beloved novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden follows recently-orphaned ten year old Mary Lennox, a young girl who is sent to live with her estranged uncle on the Yorkshire moors. When she discovers the key to her deceased aunt's secret garden, Mary unearths a renewed sense of spirit for herself and her sickly cousin, bringing the weary estate and its occupants back to exuberant life with the full force of spring. This astonishing and magnificent hit premiered on Broadway in 1991, running for 709 performances and making Daisy Egan, who starred as Mary, the youngest female Tony Award winner in Broadway history (Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical). A recent limited engagement concert featured Daisy Egan as Martha, Sydney Lucas (of Fun Home fame) as Mary Lennox, and Ramin Karimloo as Archibald Craven, among many other dazzling Broadway stars, and was described by the New York Times as "a steady journey from clammy darkness into blazing light."

The 5th is thrilled to welcome two of the quirkiest and most endearing best friends in pop culture history to the stage when it presents the world premiere of the totally awesome new musical, Romy & Michele's High School Reunion (June 8-July 2, 2017), based on the 1997 cult hit film. This bubbly '90s confection features a book by Robin Schiff who penned the screenplay, with music and lyrics by Gwendolyn Sanford and Brandon Jay. The show features a creative team including Rock of Ages' director Kristin Hanggi and choreographer Kelly Devine. Romy and Michele are two inseparable best friends whose relationship is put to the test when they invent fake careers to impress people at their 10-year class reunion. Regularly featured in media roundups of the top tales of female friendships including Cosmopolitan, Indiewire, Popsugar, Bustle and more, the story of Romy & Michele is, like, totally the coolest thing since the invention of Post-its. This will be the 18th new musical that The 5th has produced over the past 16 years.

The season closes with the arrival of Tony Award winner Fun Home (July 11-30, 2017). Every once in a while a musical comes along that surprises, moves and excites audiences in ways only a truly landmark musical can. One of the most remarkable productions ever to hit Broadway, Fun Home is the winner of five 2015 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Based on Alison Bechdel's best-selling graphic memoir, Fun Home features music by Jeanine Tesori, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron and direction by Sam Gold, whose work on this production earned them the Tony Awards for Best Score, Best Book and Best Direction. The musical made Broadway history as the first show written only by women to ever win Best Musical. Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori also became the first female writing team to win Best Score. A refreshingly honest musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes, "Fun Home is extraordinary, a rare beauty that pumps fresh air into Broadway" (New York Times).

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

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