New Musical Development

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.

First Draft: Raise Your Voice​

  • First Draft: Raise Your Voice is designed to introduce and nurture new musical theatre writers from traditionally marginalized populations. Across an 18-month cycle the program will shepherd writing teams representing an intentionally targeted community from a simple concept on a page through the completed draft of a show. Each year submissions will be open to a different targeted group. Our 2018-2019 cycle will solicit submissions from womxn (women and female-identifying) writing teams. 
  • We will begin to accept submissions from teams in March 2018. Writing teams need only submit short bios and a brief description of the concept for their show. 
  • The 5th will select 10-15 teams from the submissions that will be invited to Seattle for a week-long Story Summit. During the Summit, each team will work with musical theatre industry leaders to develop their concept into a "pitch," inclusive of a story line and two songs. At the end of the Summit, these pitches are presented to a panel of established theatre artists, theater producers and regional theater artistic directors. The panel will select 3-5 teams they recommend to The 5th for a "First Draft Commission." Selected teams will receive guidance in developing their draft over a year long process, culminating in a 29-hour reading. 
  • If you have any questions, please email Casting Director & Artistic Associate Kelsey Thorgalsen at 

Script Submissions 

  • We accept submissions of musical scripts throughout the year. Please note that we do not accept non-musical submissions at any time.
  • We only accept full-length scripts submitted by literary agents. If you do not have an agent and would like to submit, you may do so by professional recommendation from an artist we have a previous relationship with. 
  • If you are submitting through professional recommendation, please send us your bio, script sample of 10-pages, and 3 song demos. 
  • Submissions can be sent to 

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).


At The 5th Avenue, we believe in supporting work from idea through to completion. To that end, we take every chance we can to fully support the pieces we believe in. We are proud to have multiple works under commission includng "'64" by Cheryl West, Ethan D. Pakchar, and Douglas Lyons

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.

29-Hour Reading
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.


What is NextFest?

The 5th Avenue Theatre’s NextFest is a celebration of new musicals at various stages of development—from a first read-through of the text and music to a fully staged studio presentation. NextFest is an immersive process-driven festival that draws on the riches of the Seattle community in order to give each musical the time and support necessary to reach its full potential. We aim for the work being developed at NextFest to be seen on stages at The 5th Avenue and beyond.

NextFest will not be open to the general public. However, festival passes are a benefit of an Artist’s Circle Membership. To learn more about becoming an Artist’s Circle Member, please call 206-625-1418 and ask for the Circles Office.

Our third annual NextFest will take place February 26th - March 13th, 2018. Stay tuned for further details!

Click here to read about our 2016 Festival
Click here to read about our inaugural 2015 festival