It's a brand new season of love this summer when The 5th Avenue Theatre brings a bold and innovative production of RENT to the stage. Fresh from his smash success with First Date, Bill Berry directs this electrifying new staging of Jonathan Larson's modern rock-opera classic. A cast of Seattle's young rising theater stars, featuring Daniel Berryman, Aaron C. Finley, Naomi Morgan, Jerick Hoffer, Ryah Nixon, and Andi Alhadeff will take center stage, belting hits including "La Vie Boheme," "Take Me or Leave Me," "One Song Glory," and "Rent." Based on the Puccini opera La bohème, the hit musical premiered in 1996 to instant acclaim, and swept a host of theater awards - the Tony, the Obie, and the Pulitzer.
"The 5th Avenue Theatre has a longstanding tradition of cultivating our fantastic Seattle-based talent pool," said Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong. "Many of the stars of RENT are performers that you have seen on smaller stages around Seattle. Ten years ago our acclaimed production of Hair introduced a vibrant new crop of musical theater artists to Seattle audiences. Many of these performers have gone on to local and national acclaim. With this production, we are poised to do that all over again!"
Director Bill Berry can still recall the first time he saw RENT in 1996 as a young director studying for his MFA at Brooklyn College. After waiting in line all day for a $20 ticket, he sat awestruck in the front row.
"RENT is the musical that defined a brand new generation of theatre-goers, and has since become an anthem of youth, vitality, and rebellion" says Berry. "But more than anything, this is a musical about survival, and about embracing every moment as though there will never be another. I think that's why it has such universal and timeless appeal."
Bill Berry is the Producing Director of The 5th Avenue Theatre and recently received wide acclaim for his direction of the new musical First Date, a co-production between The 5th Avenue Theatre and ACT – A Contemporary Theatre. Berry has also directed 5th Avenue Theatre hit productions of On the Town, West Side Story (Seattle Times Footlight Award), Wonderful Town (Seattle Times Footlight Award), Smokey Joe's Café and The Wizard of Oz. He also directed On the Town at Paper Mill Playhouse. His re-imagined production of Cabaret received awards in St. Paul and Houston and has been performed at The 5th Avenue Theatre, The Ordway, the American Musical Theatre of San Jose, and Theatre Under The Stars.
Berry also produces and directs the education and outreach programs for The 5th Avenue Theatre. This year, The 5th Avenue Awards Honoring High School Musical Theatre (a program Berry created shortly after he began at The 5th) celebrates its tenth anniversary. He also spearheaded the creation of "Fridays At The 5th," a workshop series that gives high school students the opportunity to learn directly from 5th Avenue Theater professionals, and launched Show Talks, a conversation series with local theater scholars and experts that explores the themes and ideas behind the work onstage. Berry has substantially increased the reach of The 5th Avenue Theatre's Adventure Musical Theatre Touring Company (AMT), which brings original, topical musical Theater Productions to schools all throughout the Pacific Northwest. In addition to directing these productions, he has written the book for two AMT productions: Klondike, the story of the Alaskan Gold Rush, and Journey West!, a musical based on the Lewis and Clark expedition.