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Musical Chronology

1979

With an eye toward bringing Broadway entertainment to Seattle for the first time, 43 community business leaders form the non-profit 5th Avenue Theatre Association. They raise the necessary funds and the theater’s renovation begins.

Apr 14, 1980

Marilynn Sheldon, who later becomes the theatre’s Managing Director, begins her career as the Box Office Treasurer. Two years later, she’s promoted to General Manager. In 1987, she becomes Managing Director.

Jun 16, 1980

At the Grand Opening Gala for the renovated theatre, legendary actress Helen Hayes christens the stage with a kiss and declares The 5th “a national treasure.” The theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Jul 3, 1980

The 5th presents Annie, the first touring Broadway musical to appear at the theatre. The sold-out show runs for 10 weeks with a total of 77 performances.

1980–1989

The 5th operates as Seattle’s exclusive musical theatre roadhouse.

1983–1985

An economic recession results in a shortage of touring Broadway musicals. Many of the country’s Broadway houses go “dark.” The 5th remains open, but reduces its staff.

1986–1989

The 5th makes itself available for community events and local promoters.

1989–1999

The 5th, Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS), and Artistic Director Frank Young enjoy a collaborative partnership. The two theaters successfully produce 10 seasons of musical theater, which include both national tours and self-produced musicals.

Oct 17, 1989

The first 5th Avenue/TUTS self-produced musical is presented: Mame, starring renowned dancer Juliet Prowse.

1991

The National Tour of Les Misérables makes its Seattle debut at The 5th. It attracts record-breaking crowds and returns to the theatre six more times over the next eight years. More than 341,000 theatergoers have enjoyed this blockbuster during its 169 sell-out performances.

1992

Numbers of subscribers reach an all-time high of 36,040. The 5th remains one of the most highly subscribed musical theater houses in the country.

Apr 1997

After premiering in 1995, Jekyll & Hyde becomes the first 5th Avenue Theatre production to open on Broadway. The show is produced in cooperation with Houston’s Alley Theatre and TUTS.

1999

David Armstrong directs his first musical at The 5th: The Secret Garden.

Aug 2000

David Armstrong joins The 5th as its first resident Producing Artistic Director, launching a new era of collaboration with leading musical theater companies and producers across the country. The theatre’s partnership with TUTS draws to a close.

Feb 28, 2001

At the time of Seattle’s earthquake, actors were on stage rehearsing 1776. Subsequently, the show was nicknamed, 1776.8!

Jun 2002

The 5th co-produces the world premiere musical Hairspray. It moves directly to Broadway, where it garners eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The 5th gains national acclaim and establishes a reputation as an ideal place to premiere Broadway-bound musicals.

Aug 2005

The 5th co-produces the world premiere Broadway-bound musical Princesses.

Sep 2005

The 5th celebrates its 25th Anniversary Season.

Jan-Feb 2006

The theatre co-produces the pre-Broadway world premiere of The Wedding Singer as part of its 2005-2006 season

May 24, 2006

Les Misérables returns to the theatre for the eighth time and a total of 185 performances. Nearly 375,000 people have seen the show at The 5th.

June, 2006

The Wedding Singer is nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Musical.