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More than 5th Avenue abuzz about return of live theater to downtown Seattle

Two people stand on a stage inside the 5th Avenue Theatre while three men are seated behind them. A banner to the right of them reads "Fall in Love with the 5th."
DD Madigan
Bernadine Griffin, managing director of the 5th Avenue Theatre, and Bill Berry, producing artistic director of the 5th, address the media during a news conference Tuesday to celebrate the return to live, in-person performances at the 5th Avenue.

The 5th Avenue is set to welcome patrons back into its theater in January with a production of "Beauty and the Beast." The theater held a press conference on Tuesday celebrating its reopening and launch of its PR campaign "Fall In Love with the 5th."

For the first time since February 2020, Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre will open its doors to patrons when a production of "Beauty and the Beast" premieres in January. It has performers and local leaders, including King County Executive Dow Constantine, excited.

"The arts are a huge part of our regional economy. It is part of our local culture, but it is also part of what we offer to the world," Constantine remarked during a news conference on Tuesday.

The importance of the arts and its role in downtown Seattle's recovery was a point belabored by Constantine.

"When folks come here, they don’t just come here, they come here and they go patronize restaurants, they patronize bars, they use transportation," Constantine said. "They are helping the economy function, and they’re helping many more people than those who work inside these four walls be able to earn a living and to support their families."

Jon Scholes, president and CEO of the Downtown Seattle Association, and Manny Cawaling, director of Inspire Washington, a group focused on nurturing the arts and sciences, also spoke.

"This venerable institution is bringing back joy, wonder and the thrill of live performance for all audiences," Cawaling said. "They will replace the vigilance and uncertainty of the last 18 months with the sound of music. Seattle and all of Washington needs this. I know that I need this."

The celebration also included singing telegrams, who performed a very fitting rendition of "Happy Days Are Here Again."

Cayman Ilika was one of those singing telegrams. She grew up going to the 5th, and now she is an actor there.

"In 2018, I played the lead in 'Kiss Me Kate' here and to be able to stand in the center of the stage and look up and see my seat that I used to sit in when I was 5 years old was a truly unbelievable experience," Ilika said. "It’s such an important place to me."

Keep an eye out for Ilika and other singing telegrams around Seattle as part of the theater’s “Fall in Love with the 5th” promotional campaign.

Tickets are now available to the theater’s production of "Beauty and the Beast" which is set to debut January 12, 2022.

Grace Madigan is KNKX's former Arts & Culture reporter. Her stories focused on how people express themselves and connect to their communities through art, music, media, food, and sport.