Category Archives: Theater


Grayson J. Smith as Artful Dodger at 5thCongratulations to my brother, Grayson J. Smith, for being awarded the The 5th Avenue Theatre’s First Annual Subscriber Choice Award for Outstanding Young Actor for his performance in Oliver! as the Artful Dodger!!!

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Newsies North American Tour!

Anthony RosenthalCongratulations to our family friend, Anthony Rosenthal!  My brother, Grayson J. Smith, was in Oliver! at the 5th Avenue Theater with Anthony last year.  Anthony was recently cast in the Newsies North American Tour, which begins October 11, as Les!  We are so excited for him!   See the full cast here.



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Leavenworth Summer Theater 2014 Season

Leavenworth is Washington state’s Bavarian village.  Leavenworth provides shopping and fun for all ages.  It is also the home of Leavenworth Summer Theater.  LST began in 1994, and was started by John and Susan Wagner and Bill Weis.

This summer Leavenworth Summer Theater will be producing three fantastic shows.  Fiddler on the Roof at the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery Park Stage, The Drowsy Chaperone at The Festhalle Theater, and their 20th annual production of The Sound of Music at the Ski Hill Amphitheater.

The signature performance of The Sound of Music at the Ski Hill Amphitheater is a wonderful outdoor experience.  Directly behind the stage is a beautiful view of the mountains in the background, creating a wonderful setting for the show.  Sitting under the stars, enjoying the story of the Von Trapp family, and hearing the crickets accompany the show creates an experience like no other.   It is an ideal way to end a fabulous day in Leavenworth.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music is based on the true story of the Von Trapp family.  It tells the story of a young postulant, Maria, who is sent by the Reverend Mother of the Nonnberg Abbey to be a governess to Captain Von Trapp’s seven children.  She discovers the children don’t know how to sing, and accidentally falls in love with the Captain.

Word has gotten around about this excellent summer evening fun in Leavenworth, and the tickets sell quickly!  To learn more about the theater, the experience, and how to get tickets visit the Leavenworth Summer Theater website.

The Sound of MusicJuly 4, 5, 11, 12, 17, 19, 22, 24, 25, 31 and August 1, 5, 8, 14, 16, 19, 22, 27, 30, 31 at 8:00pm

Fiddler on the RoofJuly 16, 18, 23, 26, 30 and August 2, 7, 9, 12, 15, 20, 23, 26, 29 at 8:00pm

The Drowsy ChaperoneJuly 29, August 6, 13, 21, 28 at 8:00 p.m. and August 2, 9, 16, 23 at 2 p.m.


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Aladdin on Broadway


The classic 1992 Disney film, Aladdin, has been transformed into a magical Broadway musical!  The musical debuted in 2011 at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle.  In 2013 it ran a pre-Broadway tryout in Toronto.  On March 20 2014, the musical opened on Broadway in the New Amsterdam Theatre and is enjoying favorable reviews.

Aladdin, of course, is the story of a street urchin who falls in love with a princess.  Unfortunately, she can only marry a prince.  Solution?  Find a magical genie in a lamp that can grant wishes!

The cast includes Adam Jacobs as Aladdin (Broadway: Les Miserables, The Lion King), Jonathon Freeman as Jafar, who is also the voice of Jafar in the film, James Monroe Iglehart as Genie (25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), and Courtney Heights as Jasmine (In the Heights, Mamma Mia!).  The cast also includes Seattle actors Brandon O’Neill and Don Darryl Rivera.

The cast recording will be released on June 17 2014, and is now available for pre-order.

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Next Season at The 5th Avenue Theatre

What’s up next at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle?  The most successful theater in the Northwest announced their 2014-2015 season last week.  Here’s the line up!

A Chorus Line

Kinky Boots (Tour)

A Christmas Story


Something Rotten!  (A New Musical)

Jacques Bell is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (Co-production with ACT)


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The 5th Avenue Theatre SPAMalot Rising Star Project

“After The 5th Avenue Theatre wraps up its professional production of Monty Python’s Spamalot, the curtain will rise again for an all-student production, featuring more than 70 students from across Washington State. The Rising Star Project: Spamalot is not only a brilliant artistic collaboration between some of the area’s most promising up-and-coming young talent, but an educational program unlike any other in the country.”

Teen performers have the opportunity to rehearse with sets and costumes from the mainstage production as they learn the responsibilities of working in a professional theater. Meanwhile, students produce, develop, and market the student production under the mentorship of The 5th Avenue staff. The program is tuition free and open to all who wish to participate.”

There is no other educational program like this in the country,” said 5th Avenue Theatre Producing Director Bill Berry. “What makes this project truly unique is the opportunity young people have to be mentored by professional artists, staff and crew, at no cost to the student.”


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Secondhand Lions: A New Musical Adventure

On September 7th at 8pm at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle, Washington the world premier musical, Secondhand Lions: A New Musical Adventure performed for the very first time.

Based on the 2003 movie, young Walter is sent by his mother to live with two grouchy great-uncles he’s never met, he feels all alone.  But then Uncle Garth tells Walter a tall tale of his and Uncle Hub’s adventures in foreign countries to raise his spirits.  The story fills Walter’s summer with excitement.  It’s a tale of a princess, a sultan, treasure, sword fights and true love!  The story is so extraordinary, could it actually have happened?

The stellar cast includes Johnny Rabe as Walter, Gregg Edelman, Mark Jacoby, Jason Danieley, Jenny Powers, Kevin Earley, Kendra Kassebaum, and Sophia Anne Caruso.  A stunning ensemble backs up the leading characters.

Grayson J. Smith, recently seen as Michael Hobbs in ELF – The Musical at The 5th Avenue Theatre, is in the show as Walter’s understudy.  He also appears nightly as part of the ensemble.

The book is by Tony Award winner Rupert Holmes with music and lyrics by Zachary and Weiner.

I have seen the show twice, and it is truly astounding and wonderful!  Don’t miss out on this amazing adventure!  Tickets are being sold for the remaining performance.  Click the above Secondhand Lions picture to visit the 5th Avenue’s website.

Many criticize the fact that there is no lion in the show.  If we recall, the lion plays a very small part in the movie.  Some may argue that the lion saves Walter from Stan, Mae’s evil boyfriend.  In the musical, the uncles save Walter from Stan.  This result is even more satisfying.  The uncles are given a new fight, they protect their great-nephew without regard for the personal cost.  The lion in the movie was an interesting addition, but not a necessity for the musical.  This is evident, because the absence of a real lion in the musical does not damage or confuse the story line.

In reality, the logistical difficulty of a lion on stage is enormous.  A lion on stage with dozens of actors, crew members, and over 2,000 people in the audience, would create an unmanageable safety issue for all concerned.  It would be far too dangerous. Furthermore, if not a lion, some have suggested use of a puppet lion.  If one saw a puppet lion on the stage you would criticize it’s unrealistic appearance far more than no lion at all.  The title is Secondhand Lions, so why don’t you expect two lions then in the movie?

Metaphors are common in the arts, and the metaphor in Secondhand Lions is clear to me. I will explain the meaning of the title.  The “lions” the title refers to in both the musical and the movie are the two uncles who are grizzled and worn.  They fought a score of battles long ago, but now, old and grey, they can’t fight great battles anymore.  Walter turns up and gives them something new to live for.  They are “secondhand lions”, used already and being used once more to raise Walter into a fine man.  The title does not refer to a lion with four paws and a mane, as those without an ounce of imagination believe.

Below are links to performances of numbers from the musical by the cast:

See Zachary and Weiner perform “Sand” from Secondhand Lions: A New Musical Adventure. 

See Johnny Rabe perform “Do Something for Me” from Secondhand Lions: A New Musical Adventure.

See Johnny Rabe perform “Just Right” from Secondhand Lions: A New Musical Adventure.

See Kevin Earley and Jason Danieley perform “Unlike Anyone I’ve Ever Known” from Secondhand Lions: A New Musical Adventure.

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The 5th Avenue Theatre

The 5th Avenue Theatre
The 5th Avenue Theatre was designed and planned in 1924. The interior of the theatre was designed by Gustav Lilijestrom.  The architect was Robert C. Reamer, also the designer of The Fox Theatre.  By October 1925, construction began and totaled to $1.5 million dollars. 

On September 24, 1926, the 5th Avenue Theatre had its grand opening.  The end of World War I Armistice celebration was said, by newspapers of the time, to be smaller than that the crowd in attendance at the grand opening of The 5th Avenue Theatre.

From 1926 to 1930, The 5th Avenue Theatre served as a stage for shows by the Franchon and Marco Company.  The theatre was Seattle’s downtown premier movie venue.

In 1978, after years of struggle due to diminishing crowds, The 5th Avenue Theatre closed its doors.  The following year, community leaders and companies raised funds to renovate the theatre.  The renovation would take two years, and cost $2.6 million dollars.  Following the construction, the theatre successfully produced Annie, which ran for 10 weeks.  Recession from 1983 to 1989 caused many theatres to close.  The 5th Avenue decreased staff, and remained open for community and locally promoted events.

For ten years starting in 1989, the theatre successfully ran 10 seasons of musicals.  One of the most successful shows at The 5th Avenue was Les Miserables, which the theatre has produced 9 times in the past 22 years.

Today, The 5th Avenue Theatre produces about 7 shows a year, as well as special events.  The theatre not only presents Golden Age and Contemporary musicals, but also premieres new musicals.  Shrek: The Musical, which ran for 441 performances on Broadway, and A Christmas Story, on Broadway in 2012, are only two of the shows that premiered on The 5th Avenue stage and proceeded to go to Broadway.  Disney’s Aladdin will run on Broadway in 2014 after the 5th Avenue premier of the show in 2011.

The 5th Avenue Theatre continues to provide the Northwest with Broadway quality shows.  The 2013-2014 season includes two new musicals.  The musical adaptation of the movie Secondhand Lions will take the stage this August, 2013.

Along with the usual productions put on at the 5th, the theatre also has a large education program for all ages of students.  This program includes workshops for students interested in all aspects of musical theatre, summer camps, and classes, all taught by professional actors of Seattle.

The 5th Avenue Theatre had repairs from various earthquakes in 2003, and a new marquee built in 2008.  The non-profit organization of the 5th Avenue thrives as the largest theatre in the Northwest.

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