Workshops for High School Students 

Especially for high school students, ages 14-18, with an interest in musical theater, these workshops give students the opportunity to create the characters, sing the songs, learn the choreography, and meet with the cast and crew for the productions on our stage. At each workshop, the participants enjoy a pizza** party, see the show, and attend a talkback with the cast after the evening's performance--all for only $25! *

Urinetown The Musical 
Acting, Physicality Forward

with cast member, Chris Ensweiler

April 19, 2019
4:30 - 11:00 PM (4 PM Check-In)

The darkly comic musical Urinetown is set in a dystopian city where water is scarce and citizens are forced to use public toilets operated by a greedy corporation. At the heart of the story is an idealistic young man, Bobby Strong, who fights for freedom, inspired by the young, Hope Cladwell. Together these two are part of a quirky mash up of characters that live within the story. In this interactive workshop, students will learn from Urinetown cast member, Chris Ensweiler, techniques for developing characters. Using Laban Movement Analysis students will explore ways to express characters through physicality, rather than emotion. Come prepared to move and have fun. No experience is necessary. 

Take the workshop, enjoy a pizza dinner**, see the show and meet the cast and crew—all for only $25!* Space is limited to 25 students, so register here today.

Click here for Urinetown content advisories

* Scholarships available
** Pizza dinner options include traditional crust with cheese or pepperoni topping

Mark your calendar for the final Fridays at The 5th of the 18/19 season!

West Side Story: June 14, 2019 

Registration forms for each upcoming workshop are posted four weeks prior to the event date!  


Marie, Dancing Still—A New Musical
A Muse-ical

Marie, Dancing Still-A New Musical tells the story of ballet dancer Marie van Goethem and her relationship with the French artist Edgar Degas. Marie was his model and the inspiration for his famous statue, La Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans (Little Dancer of Fourteen Years). In this unique workshop, students worked with a teaching artist to explore figure drawing, sculpture, and the complex relationship of an artist and his or her muse.

Rock of Ages
We Wanna Rock!
With Gretta Harley

Told through the songs of popular 1980s rock bands such as Bon Jovi, Styx, REO Speedwagon and Twisted Sister, the show, Rock of Ages, takes us on a musical journey to the world of 1980s rock and roll clubs and the vibrant characters that inhabit them. While male dominated rock bands held the spotlight in the 1980s, women were making music just as loud and rockin’.  In this fun and engaging workshop, local singer, music director, and instructor Gretta Harley explored the history of rock and roll including the amazing women. Students learned techniques for performing rock and roll, as well as the style and culture of 1980s. 


Tomorrow – A Song for Today
With Cayman Ilika

5th Avenue Theatre star, Cayman Ilika (Lilli/Kate, Kiss Me Kate) and Annie cast member, looks at how singer-actors infuse new life into musical phrases which have become so familiar we’ve forgotten the heart that made them vocal standards.  Students worked with Cayman to discover how to use their voice to best bring out the truthful storytelling which these famous lyrics and beloved tunes contain.

Come From Away
People are the Story
With Kendra Kassebaum

September 11, 2001 is branded forever as a horrific date in United States history, but Come From Away is born not out of that horror, but out of the humanity that followed in a small Canadian town.  Real people rose to meet the needs of real people, in a spirit of kindness and community.  5th Avenue Theatre star, Kendra Kassebaum (Mamma Mia, Ragtime) was a member of the original Come From Away Broadway cast and knows firsthand what it meant to bring  a moment in history to life using the stories of the people who experienced it.  Students joined Kendra explore how to develop a stage character based on an actual person. 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame 
Showing Your Story
With Kellie Martin

We use body language to communicate every day. But great actors intentionally use their bodies and facial expressions to create strong characters, tell the story, and draw the audience into their world. In this fun and engaging workshop, students will work together and learn techniques to use body language, facial expression, and sign language to communicate a story. This workshop was presented with ASL interpretation.

Ride the Cyclone
Create the world, and sing it!
With cast member Lillian Castillo

In the weirdly wonderful, West Coast premiere of the musical Ride the Cyclone, six teenagers face their untimely demise when the train on the roller coaster they are riding unexpectedly derails. Stuck in a strange, carnival-like purgatory, they are each given the opportunity to tell their story of a life interrupted. Set to a rock-pop score, the musical asks the question, what gives a life value? Join Lillian (Costance Blackwood in the production)  and learn the wonderfully wacky songs featured in the show. Get to know this new musical and explore how each actor contributes to the world of the play in an ensemble cast.  

Kiss Me, Kate
Kiss Me, Conflict!
with 5th Avenue favorite, David Quicksall

Join us for an enlightening Fridays at The 5th workshop and discover how the tumultuous relationship of Petruchio and Kate in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is mirrored by Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi in Cole Porter’s musical, Kiss Me, Kate. Both the musical Kiss Me, Kate and The Taming of the Shrew, the play that serves as the inspiration for the musical, deal with a conflict—a battle of the sexes. In both stories the principal characters act out a tension-filled romance full of passion, wit, cunning, and ultimately, love. Join us in a fun and exciting workshop taught by local Shakespearean actor and teacher, David Quicksall. Learn how to play the conflict in a scene in order to heighten the tension and drive the story. No experience is necessary, just come prepared to learn a little and laugh a lot.

Mamma Mia!
Taking Direction/Taking Action
With Mamma Mia! Associate Director, Billie Wildrick

Constantin Stanislavski once said, “Acting is action.” Mamma Mia! is about characters taking action: action to create relationships, action to create family, action to connect to past and create future.  Billie Wildrick, a popular and much loved performer on The 5th Avenue stage (Evelyn Nesbit, Ragtime; Babe, The Pajama Game) is also well known as a director, and has been Associate Director for our production of Mamma Mia!.  As an actor herself, Billie can share unique insights from both sides of the creation process, helping students learn to embrace, rather than be intimidated by, a director’s vision.  Using scenes from Mamma Mia!,  students will discover how director and actor work together to bring action to the characters and relationships on stage. 



Develop your skills and learn from professional musical theater artists with our Musical Theater Classes. With offerings in dance, voice, audition skills, and even conducting, there is something for everyone and for all ages.

Mastering Style -  Musical Theater Dance
with Nikki Long
April 17, 2019
4:30 - 6:30 PM

Designed for intermediate/advanced dancers interested in musical theater dance, this master class will focus on building strength, technique, and choreography. During the two hour class, choreographer, dancer, and instructor, Nikki Long will guide students through advanced dance techniques based on ballet and jazz, finishing with choreography from the world of musical theater. Nikki is an inspiring teacher who brings a wealth of dance knowledge and performing experience.

Nikki Long is an original cast member and dance captain for Aladdin on Broadway and was formerly a cast member of The Lion King, both on Broadway and as an original cast member for the first National Tour. She was also an original cast member for the first National Tour of Monty Python’s Spamalot, and was a Radio City Rockette in NYC. She is currently a vacation swing for both the Broadway and National Tour companies of Aladdin. Her regional theater credits include ElfCinderellaCatch Me If You CanOn The TownWhite ChristmasJoseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Mame. She was the Associate Choreographer for Annie. Nikki is also a professional photographer, Pilates instructor and a mother of two. 

To register, click here.

And, if you're interested in a unique Urinetown workshop, we also have our Fridays at The 5th workshop registering now!

Past Classes

Singing for Social Change—a Master Class
February 11, 2019  with Felicia Loud

Music has the power to bring together communities, and create positive change in our world. On February 11, 2019, join us in a powerful master class with Rock of Ages cast member, Black Stax co-founder,  local performer, vocalist, and activist, Felicia Loud.  Learn about Felicia’s unique style and techniques. This will be a fun, interactive class where participants will sing together and learn about the work and musical styles of Felicia Loud and her musical group, Black Stax. 

Smart College Planning for Acting and Musical Theater 
November 5, 2018 with Caryl Fantel 

Are you a high school senior, junior or even sophomore? - It is never too early to start planning for college—especially for students interested in musical theater performance. Join us for an informative workshop designed for high school students and a parent or guardian. High school educators and career counselors are also welcome. Taught by the award-winning Music Director of Annie and Irving Berlin’s Holiday Inn, Caryl Fantel, this workshop will provide participants with helpful tips for navigating the often daunting process of pursuing a degree in acting and/or musical theater.

Landing the part: Audition Skills for High School Students
August 6th, 2018 Taught by Kelsey Thorgalsen

In this class, designed specifically for young performers, students learned the essential skills for auditioning for musical theater. Students will understand how to prepare for an audition, what to expect in the audition room, what to do when they receive sides, and how to be honest and true in their performance in order to present their best selves. 

Gospel for Musical Theater!
July 30-31, 2018 Taught by Shaunyce Omar

This energetic and uplifting vocal master class exploreS the history and influence of gospel music in musical theater. In this two-part course students work with Seattle-based singer and actress, Shaunyce Omar, to examine how gospel music has influenced both musical theater and pop music; learn the power of ensemble singing; and discover how to adapt their own personal style to gospel singing. 

Sing Out! Vocal Technique and Song Interpretation for Middle School Students
July 25, 4 PM-6 PM Taught by Jeannette d'Armand

How do musical theater artists present strong, character-driven performances through song? In this master class, students learn the fundamentals of singing--from breath support to articulation and diction. Students work on their own pre-selected songs to develop techniques for healthy vocal practice and strong performances. 

Making Intentions Clear:  Directing for Musical Theater
Tuesday, July 24, 2018Taught by Ruben Van Kempen

Communication is key when directing!  In this class, the recipeint of The 5th Avenue Theatre Award for Outstanding Educator, Ruben Van Kempen, helped high school students learn the skills for guiding and inspiring actors in telling stories on stage, and in  learning the craft of creating clear pictures and clear motivations. No Small Roles: Creating Memorable

No Small Roles: Creating Characters Through Movement and Play 
Monday, July 23, 2018 Taught by Marisol Rosa-Shapiro

In this workshop, students explored the world of movement-based theater and character creation.  Through movement analysis, play, embodiment, and an exploration of archetypes, students build skills, creating and recalling unique and delightful forms, from the body.  The techniques nurtured in this workshop serve the actor in principal roles and chorus roles, alike.  

Musical Theater Dance 
July 16-19, 2018 Taught by Nikki Long

Designed for intermediate/advanced dancers interested in the different styles of musical theater dance. Classes will focus on building strength, technique, and choreography. Choreographer, Dancer and Instructor, Nikki Long will guide students through advanced techniques in ballet, tap, and jazz and incorporate choreography in a variety of dance styles. 

Conducting for Musical Theater 
A Master Class for ages 16-20
July 17, 2018 Taught by The 5th Avenue Theatre's Resident Music Supervisor Matt Perri

In this two hour workshop, participants will learn the skills and techniques of conducting for musical theater. Basic conducting concepts will be introduced with the goal of improving clarity and gaining tools for expressive conducting in a supportive and fun learning environment. Taught by the 5th’s Resident Music Supervisor, Matt Perri, this class will provide students the opportunity to put their skills to work and conduct a band of local professional musicians with selections from the musical theater repertoire. 

Singing with Heart: Vocal Technique and Song Interpretation  
July 9, 2018 Taught by Mary Jo Dugaw

Designed for intermediate/advanced singers, students  learn vocal technique and song interpretation in a master class setting. From breath support to articulation and diction, students will develop the fundamentals for healthy vocal practice and strong performance. Using these vocal techniques, students will work on a pre-selected song to understand how text and musical structure work together and how to deliver honest, character-driven performances. 



The tech rehearsals you love and the skills you need.   

Learn from the professional!  If you are a high school student with a strong interest in technical theater, then TECH TUESDAY is for you!


At these workshops, you will learn skills, tour backstage, observe the various teams setting and adjusting cues at rehearsal, and meet working theater professionals and technicians. You will also enjoy a pizza party** and receive a ticket to a preview performance of the mainstage production which you observe in rehearsal.

*Scholarships Available - Call 206-625-1418 for information.

** Pizza dinner options include traditional crust cheese and pepperoni pizza

Registration forms for each upcoming workshop are posted four weeks prior to the Tech Tuesday event date!


Rock of Ages: We Built this Frizzy, or, Waiting for a Curl Like You
With Hair and Makeup Artist Leah Culala
Tuesday, January 29, 2019 

The styles of the 1980s were all about excess—extra wide shoulder pads, neon bright colors, acid washed denim, and big hair. And nowhere was the hair bigger than on the heads of the stars of rock and roll! The bigger, flippier, and more feathered, the better. Come experience the age of big hair in a fun and interactive Tech Tuesday workshop. Students will work with designer Leah Culala to learn how to create the big hairstyles and makeup of the 1980s as seen on stage in the musical Rock of Ages. 

Annie: Lighting the Way, or, The Way to Light!
with Lighting Designer Andrew D. Smith
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"Find your light!" is a frequent cry from directors during tech rehearsals.  Whether you are the actor finding their mark or the designer creating the playing area with light, this workshop will enhance your skills. Our “hands on“  workshop examines the world of theater lighting, with instruments of various types being examined for their best use practices.  Discover how your school’s tools and resources can be used most effectively! 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Sound and Signs
with Audio Technician, Johnny Baca
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Sound and Signs – Two techniques for enhancing storytelling!  Our “hands on“  workshop will examine the world of theater sound, with microphones of various types being examined for their best use practices.  Discover how your school’s tools and resources can be used most effectively! And, along the way, meet people who use American Sign Language as a tool and resource for communicating story. You will also meet the Sound Designer of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Kiss Me, Kate: Costume Magic
with Emily McLaughlin
Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Ever wondered how those miraculously fast costume changes happen during a show? Join us as we examine the “quick change” in a hands-on workshop with wardrobe professionals!  This practical and fun workshop will be followed by the unique opportunity to tour backstage, observe during technical rehearsal, and meet more working theater professionals and technicians. 


Placing musical theater in the hands of tomorrow's leaders...

2018/19: West Side Story

Beyond being entirely student performed, the 2018/19 Rising Star Project production of West Side Story will be run by a student technical crew and supported by a team of students who have taken on roles in the marketing, development, producing, creative and casting departments.  All participants are trained and mentored by dedicated theater professionals at The 5th Avenue Theatre.

We are still seeking students for the following roles:

  • Costume and Wardrobe
  • Orchestra (strings, brass)

READ the 2018/19 Rising Star Project Application Packet

APPLY for the 2018/19 Rising Star Project


Rising Star Project is an educational program offered tuition-free to Washington State students. Please note that participants are responsible for expenses associated with day-to-day transportation and meals. 

Rising Star Project is made possible by a generous grant from The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation and with additional support from The Hearst Foundations, The Herman and Faye Sarkowsky Charitable Foundation, Schultz Family Foundation, Susie and Phil Stoller, RealNetworks Foundation, Michael Amend and Jeffrey Ashley, Linda and Kevin Cheung - Start It! Foundation, GM Nameplate, The Jean K. Lafromboise Foundation, Tom and Judi Lindquist, Claudia and Bob Nelson, Todd and Donna Rosenberg, Seattle Rotary Service Foundation, Elizabeth and Gary Sundem, and Becca and Bill Wert.



This program is available to all Washington State students ages 14-19.  Eligible participants are within this age range for the majority of the project timeline.


Rising Star Project focuses on career exploration and the development of original musicals through a professional workshop and rehearsal process.  Professional mentors work with students to learn skills and execute tasks which immerse students in the process of mounting a production at The 5th Avenue Theatre. 

Students have the opportunity to apply for roles in the following areas:


A professional musical would not be possible if not for dedicated teams who cast, produce, secure funding for, and market the production.

THE PRODUCING TEAM is mentored by the Casting Associate, Associate Production Manager, and Company Manager,  Projects include facilitating general auditions and casting, producing the Rising Star Project cabaret fundraiser, and attending to the needs of the Rising Star Project cast and company,  Strong candidates have a strong interest in the theater industry or business (thespians, FBLA), are good collaborators, have leadership experience (student government, team athletics), and are comfortable working under deadlines.

THE DEVELOPMENT TEAM is mentored by members of the theater’s Development department and is responsible for raising funds for the Rising Star Project production.  This team will set a fundraising goal and then create and execute various campaigns to reach their goal.  Strong candidates are interested in professional networking and Arts advocacy, are involved in fundraising and service clubs (Key Club, ASB), and are passionate about the Arts and its impact on our community.

THE MARKETING + COMMUNICATIONS TEAM is mentored by the Marketing & Engagement Manager and the PR Manager—with opportunities to shadow graphic designers and production photographers. Projects include writing press releases and blogs, designing marketing materials, and coordinating social media campaigns. Strong candidates are interested in marketing and advertising careers, are involved in marketing clubs (DECA), and are strong writers or have graphic design, photography, and digital video production skills. Specific roles on this team may include: Production Photographer, Graphic Designer



Behind the scenes, professional musicals require the technical expertise of dedicated craftspeople who take on the additional role of mentoring Rising Star Project participants.

HAIR & MAKEUP TEAM will learn essential skills and industry best practices for hair, wigs and makeup. In addition, Hair & Makeup students will put wigs and makeup on actors and perform changes during performances.

COSTUMES & WARDROBE TEAM will learn how to fit costumes on actors, alter pieces and “rig” them for quick changes as well as have the opportunity to analyze costume designs and learn about the design process. Students will also iron and prep costumes for the show, assist with quick changes, and “run” the wardrobe aspects of the show backstage during performances.

THE STAGE CREW will learn industry safety standards and best practices need to run all technical aspects of a professional musical.  Specific roles on this team include: Deck Carpenter, Props, Light Board Operator, Electrics, Automation, Flyrail, Sound



THE CAST will be mentored primarily by theater professionals working on the Rising Star Project creative team—with opportunities to work with members of the professional cast of West Side Story.  General auditions for student performers will take place in July 2018 and January 2019.  Strong candidates will demonstrate commitment to the project schedule and a demonstrated passion for collaboration.

THE ORCHESTRA will be mentored by musicians who play for the professional production of West Side Story.  Students will rehearse and perform the score for the Rising Star Project production.  Ideal candidates are interested in professional music careers, have experience playing in advanced ensembles, and have an interest in learning diverse musical styles. Musicians should submit a complete application.  Strong candidates will be invited to also submit a video audition or to audition in person.

The West Side Story orchestra will include:  piccolo, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, oboe, English horn, all saxophones, trumpet, trombone, bass trombone, violin, keyboard, percussion (mallets), drum set, bass, and guitar.

THE CREATIVE TEAM will by mentored by members of the Rising Star Project creative team.  Strong candidates will have specific interest in pursuing a career in their respective field as well as developed knowledge and expertise, and demonstrated experience in a leadership position.  Interested students will apply for one of the following roles:  Choreography, Directing, Music Direction

STAGE MANAGEMENT TEAM will be mentored by a professional 5th Avenue stage management team and will be responsible for rehearsal preparation, coordinating rehearsals, running technical rehearsals, and overseeing technical aspects of performances. Ideal candidates are passionate about being organized, experienced leaders, detail-oriented, and interested in learning one of the most crucial roles of putting on a show.


The Rising Star Project uses the resources and professional knowledge that exist at The 5th Avenue Theatre to help every young person achieve a fulfilling career, a stronger sense of self, and confidence in their ability to inspire positive change in the world.

Within this mission, we endeavor to:

  1. take a proactive role in creating  a theater community which is inclusive and representative of our region;
  2. provide students with direct mentorship from working theater professionals, introducing them to the diversity of viable careers in the theater industry;
  3. create a collaborative and authentic learning environment in regard to professional practices and expectations;
  4. connect students to American musicals not only as vehicles for self-expression, but also as significant artistic achievements, rich texts, and unique expressions of our nation’s history and heritage; and
  5. support classroom learning by providing quality arts-based education experiences for students—both at The 5th and in-residence throughout the community and in areas where opportunities for arts education are limited.


The Rising Star Project is made possible through a generous grant from The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation with additional support from the following sponsors: The Hearst Foundations, The Herman and Faye Sarkowsky Charitable Foundation, Schultz Family Foundation, Susie and Phil Stoller, RealNetworks Foundation, Michael Amend and Jeffrey Ashley, Linda and Kevin Cheung - Start It! Foundation, GM Nameplate, The Jean K. Lafromboise Foundation, Tom and Judi Lindquist, Claudia and Bob Nelson, Todd and Donna Rosenberg, Seattle Rotary Service Foundation, Elizabeth and Gary Sundem, and Becca and Bill Wert.