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.

How to Submit Your Work


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 Staff

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.


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.

Information about our October 2016 festival is forthcoming.

Click here to read about our inagural 2015 festival.

Read a summary of NextFest.
Learn more about each of the shows that will be presented at the festival.

The projects of NextFest

(from our inagural Seattle Writers Group)
Adaption from Jane Austen
Book by Harold Taw
Music by Chris Jeffries

Persuasion is an adult Cinderella story about a fairy tale that went horribly wrong … and Anne Elliot’s fight to earn an even happier ending. One of the world’s greatest love stories about the power of second chances soars to life in this new musical adaption of Jane Austen’s final novel.

Fixing Einstein
(from our inagural Seattle Writers Group)
Book by Lauren Goldman Marshall
Music by Ian Williams

In Fixing Einstein, Victoria, a cutting-edge scientist facing a degenerative illness, clones herself, intending that her clone will do a better job of carrying on her life.  Her clone, Vicki, has her own ideas about how to live, but finds her unsuspecting husband & sons resistant to change.  Just when everything seems to be working, we run into the problem of splitting yourself in two.

The Fourth Estate
(from our inagural Seattle Writers Group)
Book by Andrew Russell
Music by Richard Gray

The Fourth Estate, an unconventional new musical, unpacks government secrets, questions American history, and celebrates the power of the press by imagining Dorothy Kilgallen, Jack Ruby, Laura Poitras and Edward Snowden together onstage.   

Book by Glen Slater
Music and Lyrics by Wendy Wilf

Beatsville, a be-bop inflected musical, takes place in Greenwich Village, 1959—playground of goateed artists and bongo-playing jazzbos. When hopelessly square Walter Paisley accidentally kills a cat and hides it in a lump of clay, the beatniks declare “Dead Cat” a masterpiece, and Walter a genius.  More “sculptures” bring more acclaim—but will the world discover that Walter’s body of work consists of actual bodies?

Single Girl’s Guide
Book by Gordon Greenberg
Music by Tommy Newman
Table Read

Jane Austen meets Helen Gurley Brown in a new musical that celebrates love and the joys of living on your own terms. Filled with the buoyant sounds and bright spirit of the mid-1960s, The Single Girls Guide is a fizzy riff on Sex and The Single Girl that echoes the questions we continue to ask about marriage, sex and being single.

Something Wicked This Way Comes
Book by Brian Hill
Music by Neil Bartram
Table Read

In this musical adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s cult classic, a malevolent carnival rolls into a rural Illinois town and the charismatic owner Mr. Dark threatens the souls who live there.When Will and his thrill-seeking friend Jim try to expose Mr. Dark’s sinister plans, the boys have to turn to the only one who will believe them—Will’s stodgy librarian father, Charles. Together, this unlikely trio fights and thwarts Mr. Dark, creating a bond between father and son that was never there before.

Paint Your Wagon
By Lerner & Loewe
New Book by Jon Marans
Development Lab

The 5th Avenue Theatre is creating a brand new script for Lerner and Loewe’s incredible score. Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Jon Marans has been commissioned to write the book for this fresh, gritty adventure about a group of disparate people from all over the world who leave everything they know and risk their lives to strike it rich in the great California Gold Rush.  

Other Special Events

Throughout the festival we will be hosting special concerts, cocktail events, and panels. Look for behind the scenes interviews with writers, sneak peaks at material from our festival creative teams, and a pitch session from the people behind Le Reve.




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:


Beautiful Poison 

Book by Duane Poole

Music by Brendan Milburn

Lyrics by Valerie Vigoda


Cry To Heaven

Book by Debrah Neal & Roy Freirich

Music & Lyrics by Matthew Wilder


Dutch Master

Book by Marc Acito

Music & Lyrics by Jeffrey Stock


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 bi-weekly 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 an industry showcase of new material 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

Apply now for the 2015-2017 Seattle Writers Group