New Works Program

The 5th Avenue Theatre is one of the nation’s leading producers and creators of new work, having premiered over 16 original musicals in the past 10 years. A musical cannot be created in a vacuum. Writers need actors, directors, producers, and ultimately an audience to inform their work. A new musical requires dynamic collaboration, time, space, and the freedom to test out radical changes in a safe environment. It can take anywhere from one to more than ten years for a musical to be ready to meet the stage and its first audience because, as Sondheim says, “Musicals aren’t written, they are rewritten.”

The New Works Program operates year-round to foster the creation of new musicals. From the smallest kernel of an idea to a main stage production, the New Works Program is committed to creating a positive and safe environment that supports the unique needs of each project.

The New Works Mission

  • To advance the art form of musical theater through the creation and production of the next generation of musicals.
  • To support and respond to the specific needs of individual projects throughout each phase of development.
  • To create integrated, dynamic partnerships between The 5th Avenue Theatre and writers of new musicals in Seattle, across the country, and around the world.

New Works News and More Information

Find out more about the New Works program by checking out these useful links.

How to Submit Your Work

New Works In Development

New Works in the News

Now Playing on Broadway


Creating New Musicals

The 5th Avenue New Works Program is dedicated to process-based development, allowing each project to take a unique development path necessary to its full realization.  At the 5th Avenue, we craft a specific plan for each project that comes our way, tailored from the following opportunities (or a combination thereof).

Writers Intensive
A Writers Intensive provides writing teams with artistic support, time and space necessary to achieving their specific goals for their new musical.

Table Read
An opportunity to hear work read aloud by a group of actors in order to experience and evaluate a new musical in process.

A rehearsal process that allows 29 hours of collaborative interaction between the writers, creative team and a company of actors, culminating in a read and sing through of the material.

Developmental Lab
An intense developmental process that immerses writing teams in a three-week collaboration with a creative team and company of actors.  The Lab provides writers with the time, space and support to take risks and test out significant changes. The process also includes one or more presentations to gather feedback and fuel further work.

New Works Projects and People

Check out these useful links to find out more about the New Works currently in development at The 5th.

New Works in Development

Profile:  Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda

From The 5th to Broadway

How to Submit Your Work


Investing in Local Writers

The 5th Avenue Theatre continues its ongoing commitment to the support and development of our rich community of Northwest musical theater writers through the 5th Avenue Seattle Writers Group.

What The 5th Avenue Seattle Writers Group Offers

The Writers Group is a two-year program providing six writers the opportunity to attend monthly meetings to share and discuss their work in progress. They also receive staff-level access to 5th Avenue projects, space and equipment, along with a small stipend and a showcase of their work each year.

At the end of the first year, the 5th Avenue New Works Program produces a reading of three one-act musicals written by teams formed from within the group.

At the end of the second year, the 5th Avenue New Works Program will deepen the collaboration of the writing partnerships formed within the group and will produce a reading of a full-length musical written by each team.

Seattle Writers Group:   People and Process

Click the links below to learn more about the wriers in our current Writers Group.

Profile:  Chris Jeffries

Profile:  Lauren Marshall

Profile:  Rich Gray

Profile:  Harold Taw

Profile:  Ian Williams

Profile:  Stephanie Timm

How to Apply to the Seattle Writers Group


Ian Eisendrath
The Alhadeff Family Director of New Works & Music Supervisor

Ian Eisendrath has been passionate about new works for many years.  In his tenure as The Alhadeff Family Director of New Works, he has worked with composers and lyricists including Michael Weiner, Alan Zachary, Rupert Holmes, Thomas Meehan, Brendan Milburn, Valarie Vigoda, Duane Poole, and many others. Under his leadership the New Works Program has created a formalized program for developing musicals at all stages ranging from writers retreats to three-week developmental labs.  He has also overseen the creation of the Writers Group, a program committed to supporting teams of musical theater writers in the Pacific Northwest.  This season, Eisendrath will act as music director for two 5th Avenue world premiere musicals – Secondhand Lions and A Room with a View – shepherding them through continued development and a mainstage run.

Ian Eisendrath began his tenure as resident music supervisor at The 5th Avenue Theatre in 2004 where he has served as musical director and conductor for many mainstage productions, including Sunday in the Park with George, West Side Story, SweeneyTodd, On the Town, Miss Saigon, Company, Into the Woods, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and A Christmas Story.  Additionally, he has assembled and supervised the orchestra and music staff for all mainstage productions at The 5th Avenue during his residency.

Eisendrath graduated from the University of Michigan in 2003, with a degree in conducting musical theater and choral repertoire.  His passion for new work and the development process emerged during his final years of college, when he was music director for multiple projects at the Ann Arbor Festival of New Works.  This opportunity led to a relationship with the Banff Centre for the Arts in Canada, where he has served as a music director and dramaturge on multiple new musicals over the past years.

In addition to his work at the 5th Avenue and the Banff Centre, Eisendrath has conducted three seasons of the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker and been the music director for Cabaret at American Theatre of San Jose, Ordway Center in St. Paul, and TheatreUnder the Stars in Houston.  He is currently the music director and music supervisor of the national tour of A Christmas Story, which was developed at The 5th Avenue Theatre and played Broadway this holiday season.


Makaela Pollock
New Works Associate

Makaela Pollock began working with The 5th Avenue Theatre in 2012. She has served as assistant director on main stage productions of Elf, and Hairspray in Concert, as well as working on New Works projects such as Paint Your Wagon, Cry To Heaven and Beautiful Poison. Additionally she has taught several classes with the Education program.

Pollock received her MFA in directing from the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Consortium in 2008. While studying there she thrived in collaborations with Paula Vogel’s playwriting program, which developed festivals of new plays every year. Her MFA thesis project was adapting and directing a new hybrid musical from Mozart’s & Beaumarchais’s Marriage of Figaro.

In addition to her work at the 5th Avenue, Pollock has directed locally for Seattle Shakespeare Company, Village Theatre, Book-It Repertory, Seattle Public Theatre, and New Century Theatre Company. Other artistic credits include work with Steppenwolf, Writer’s Theatre & Looking glass Theatre in Chicago, Trinity Repertory in Providence, and both Shakespeare Santa Cruz & Summer Repertory Theater in California. She is a regular director and adjunct faculty member at Cornish College of the Arts.


The New Works Artist Network

The 5th Avenue New Works Program is honored to support and collaborate with a vast array of writers locally, nationally and internationally.  We are proud to introduce you to the many skilled and talented writers who have become part our family in the New Works Program:

Marc Acito
Howard Ashman
David Austin
Chad Begueiln
Nell Benjamin
David Bryan
Chris Dimond
Joe DiPietro
Marc Elliot
Roy Freirich
David Friedman
Aaron Gandy
Kathy Lee Gifford
John L. Haber
Sean Hartley
Jack Heifner
Tim Herlihy
Jack Herrick
Rupert Holmes
Robert  Horn
Marc Jordan
David Kirshenbaum
Michael Koomin
David Lindsay-Abaire
Steve MacKinnon
Jon Marans
Terrence McNally
Thomas Meehan
Ivan Menchell
Alan Menken
Brendan Milburn
Debrah Neal
Mark  O’Donnell
Ryan Scott Oliver
Benj Pasek
Justin Paul
David Pomeranz
Duane Poole
Noah Racey
Tim Rice
Marc Shaiman
Matt Sklar
Amy Sky
Bill Steinkellner
Cheri Steinkellner
Jeffrey Stock
Jeanine Tesori
Stephanie Timm
Valerie Vigoda
Michael Weiner
Scott Whittman
Matthew Wilder
Austin Winsberg
Alan Zachary
David Zellnik
David Zippel