Welcome theater lovers! Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre is back with a brand new, explosive season! The 2022-2023 season was announced on April 11, after dozens of teasers were posted in the weeks leading up to it.
First up is “The Griswolds’ Broadway Vacation, The Musical” starting in September 2022. You’ve seen the Griswolds on film in the “National Lampoon’s Vacation” series where they head to Walley World, Vegas, and Europe, and now you get to see them hit New York! Be sure to watch out for tickets as this is a strictly limited-run production. This musical in particular is very special because it has a rumored future on Broadway, making it one of many musicals to get its run launched at 5th Avenue.
Next is “Choir Boy,” which, according to the 5th Avenue website: “Follows a group of students at a prestigious prep school for young Black men as they struggle with issues of identity, sexuality, and manhood. When the leader of the school’s legendary gospel choir Pharus Young’s pride is sullied by one of his fellow students, we are sent on an electrifying voyage through the growing pains of humanity.”
Following “Choir Boy” is “The Wiz,” which I am more than excited about. “The Wiz” is a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz,” following in the footsteps of Dorothy as she forges friendships with the Tinman, Lion, and Scarecrow on her venture down the yellow brick road. It carries the message that “no matter where you’re from, home isn’t really where you live; it’s who you love.” “The Wiz” has an electrifying R&B, soul, and gospel score, and is the recipient of seven Tony awards.
Next is an absolute classic; the Tony-winning show “Into the Woods,” written by the recently departed Stephen Sondheim. Songs like “Children Will Listen” and “No one is Alone” have never hit as hard as they do now after his passing. “Into the Woods” follows Little Red Ridinghood, Cinderella, a baker and his wife, Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk), and a Witch as they all try to make it through their various ventures through the same woods. Happily ever after is not nearly as simple as it seems in this chaotic mixing of classic tales.
The demon barber of Fleet Street is making his home near you with 5th Avenue’s production of “Sweeney Todd.” Another musical by our fallen musical theater giant, Sondheim. These two musicals were chosen as a tribute to Sondheim, to carry on the legacy he left, and to remember his numerous contributions to the art form. Sweeney Todd is a stranger with a mysterious past who arrives in London bent on getting vengeance on the judge who destroyed his life. He teams up with Mrs. Lovett, the owner of a failing pie shop, and together they develop a gruesome revenge plot.
To wrap up this glorious season full of old hits and new adventures is the remarkable “Les Miserables.” Set in 19th century France, it is a tale of unrequited love, broken dreams, passion, sacrifice, and redemption. It’s not one for the faint of heart as it is filled with pain, suffering, and the harsh realities of France’s revolution. But you leave with a feeling of thorough melancholy and a new outlook on the human experience. And, of course, it has some of the most iconic (and dare I say best) music in the whole of the musical theater genre.
There’s no doubt that this season has many hits and fewer “out-there” shows because the theater needs the funds. 5th Avenue is typically known for its world premiers and new shows with only a few runs under their belt. The pandemic hit the arts hard with doors closed for an entire season. I know as well as the next person that there are dozens of bootlegs available online, but there’s truly nothing like the feeling of a live show. While it’s nice to watch things from the comfort of your own home, the theater is meant to be experienced with a community. Community is at the very core of theater, and that cannot be transmitted through a recorded version. So leave your beds, your couches, your blanket forts, and come to a place where we gasp, weep and laugh together. Come experience the reemergence of the arts in one of Seattle’s staple theaters.