Last month the show How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying closed its doors at the 5th Avenue Theatre after a four-week run. This musical followed the rise of J. Pierrepont Finch from a window washer to the chairman of the board. Eric Ankrim, who played the young and ambitious character of Finch, carried this three-hour spectacle of a show. The rest of the cast blended well and supported Ankrim throughout the performance, but it was he who truly stood out. Bill Berry and his team of designers created an elegant show strongly influenced by the Mondrian style, from the dresses that the ladies wear in the ballroom for the number “Paris Original” to the actual set itself.
While the orchestra was playing the famous songs by Frank Loesser to the crowded house for the professional version of the show, in the basement of the 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle Academy students Max Boone ‘17, Esme DeCoster '18, and Noah Sarkowsky ‘17, part of a group of 100 participants, were creating a version all their own. Max was a member of the cast while Esme and Noah were both members of the stage management
This effort was called the Rising Star Project where over 100 teenagers took over the stage (with a little supervision of course) filling the myriad positions in the army that it takes to create a 5th Avenue production. The project, run by Orlando Morales, allowed students to re-create the professional production, and perform How to Succeed on the 5th Avenue stage.
The creative team for this project was led by Director Chryssie Whitehead, and included John Callahan as Music Director, and Trina Mills as the Supervising Choreographer. These three industry experts helped the student cast of local high school stars learn and grow to reproduce a professional caliber show, all the while using the same sets, costumes, and equipment as their professional counterparts.
One special part of this project was how it gave back to local schools and students. The project hosted students from local schools for two private student matinees before opening up the doors to the general public, allowing students to see a mainstage 5th Avenue show for little to no cost.