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Renovation Announced for The 5th Avenue Theatre

The 5th Avenue Theatre embarks on an exciting renovation called The Next Stage Campaign: a multi-phase plan to update, refresh and re-energize Seattle's home for musical theater. Beginning this summer, the historic 5th Avenue Theatre will undergo its first significant renovation since 1980. The highly-anticipated updates include a new sound system, a refreshed lobby, a new Producer's Club donor lounge and expanded restroom facilities.

Phase One of The Next Stage focuses on improving a variety of systems before the first production of the 2016/17 season, Man of La Mancha. Updates include a new digital sound system, a renovation of the existing mezzanine restrooms as well as new lobby and mezzanine carpeting. The current sound system consists of outdated analog equipment that was installed over 35 years ago and can no longer be repaired. A new state-of-the-art digital sound system will deliver clear, lush sound to every seat in the house. The new sound system is supported, in part, from generous grants awards from The Norcliffe Foundation and 4Culture/King County Building for Culture Program. The existing mezzanine restrooms will be refreshed with a modern design and updated fixtures. The lobby will be re-carpeted with a design that replicates the original lobby carpeting from 1926. Additional Phase One projects include an expansion of the sound room, a new stage light dimming system and a new permanent merchandise location in the north wall of the lobby.

"While The 5th's stunning original architecture and decor have retained their incredible impact for nearly nine decades, other aspects of the theater's infrastructure are in need of renewal," said David Armstrong, Executive Producer and Artistic Director of The 5th. "We are thrilled that each phase of The Next Stage Campaign will improve audience's overall experience at The 5th."

The next phase, slated for the summer of 2017, marks the construction of an improved and expanded lobby space, including a new Producer's Club and increased restroom capacity. The expanded lobby will honor the theater's iconic style with a contemporary Chinese garden-inspired design. The south wall of the theater lobby will expand into a previous commercial storefront through a prominent circular Chinese moon gate. The striking doorway is a traditional element in Chinese architecture that historically separates the outside from the inside or acts as a passage between gardens. The 5th's moon gate will act as a natural pedestrian concourse, easing traffic flow from the original lobby space into the new expansion.

The expanded lobby will feature rich colors and textures with a deep blue ceiling, shimmering terazzo flooring, an Anniversary Wall, textured screens, lotus-inspired lighting and a two-story feature wall evoking a waterfall. A grand staircase leading down to a lower concourse will house expanded restroom facilities. Restroom capacity will increase by 16 new women's restrooms, eight new men's facilities, two new ADA restrooms and one new family restroom. The sophisticated new Producer's Club will be accessible through the moon gate. The space was designed with comfortable elegance and guests in mind, featuring private bathroom facilities, a coat check and expanded seating for Club Members.

"Rather than attempt to replicate the design of the theater, the idea was to create something complimentary, yet contemporary and modern," said David Armstrong. "Adjacent to our current lobby, the design is quite dramatic."

The renovation plans for future phases consist of updates to the auditorium, including refreshed seating, updated house and lobby lightning, new auditorium carpeting and an upgraded HVAC system. The theater's 2,100 seats were originally installed in the 1950s and were last refurbished during a 1980 renovation. The seats will be re-upholstered and restored for increased guest comfort. For the first time, an automated sound and lighting system will alert guests to return to their seats at the end of intermission. In addition, new carpeting and lighting on the orchestra level and balcony will improve the theater's safety. Finally, an updated HVAC system will provide consistent heating and air conditioning inside of the auditorium during all seasons.

Preserving and updating an aging historic theater requires significant resources that are not provided by ticket sales or the Annual Fund alone. Through the Next Stage Campaign, The 5th Avenue Theatre is actively fundraising for these renovations. The completion and timing of future phases is dependent upon show schedules and fundraising.

For more information on The Next Stage Campaign, visit

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