The 5th Avenue Theatre Announces Major New Musical Comission

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Beautiful Poison Will Be a Modern Retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter” and is The 5th Avenue’s First Commission as Part of Its New Works Program

The 5th Avenue Theatre is proud to announce a major new musical commission: Beautiful Poison, a contemporary gothic love story.

The 5th Avenue Theatre is proud to announce a major new musical commission: 'Beautiful Poison,' a contemporary gothic love story. Set in New Orleans, this remarkable new piece will have music and lyrics by Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda ('Sleeping Beauty Wakes,' 'Striking 12') and a book by Duane Poole ('A Christmas Memory'). The show will be developed in The 5th Avenue’s ongoing New Works Program focusing on early stage cultivation of new musicals. This is the first of several commissions The 5th plans to announce over the next few months.

Inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” 'Beautiful Poison' will tell the story of a once popular singer/songwriter who travels to New Orleans seeking inspiration for a new hit that will catapult him back to stardom. Instead he falls in love with a bewitchingly lovely and mysterious woman who has been locked up inside the walls of her father’s exotic private garden. As dark secrets unfold the singer discovers that this young woman may be just as dangerous as she is beautiful.

The 5th Avenue Theatre is one of America’s leading generators of new musicals. It has produced full productions of 16 new musicals since 2001 including Disney’s Aladdin which opens on Broadway on March 20, 2014, and A Room With a View which premieres at The 5th on April 15, 2014.

“It is tremendously exciting to be a part of the development of this haunting and inspired new musical,” said 5th Avenue Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong. “There are beautifully rich and deeply emotional elements in this story that naturally lend themselves to a musical format. Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda are incredibly talented musicians who are making their mark on musical theater through projects like this. We are pleased to offer them, as well as gifted story-teller Duane Poole, an artistic home as they create this stunning and significant new work.”

“The development of new musicals is at the core of The 5th Avenue mission,” Armstrong continued. “Musical theater is one of America’s true original art forms, and we, as artists, must be stewards of this craft. With additional commissions under consideration, and many other new works in early stages of development, The 5th Avenue Theatre’s New Works Program is poised in its third year to become one of the nation’s leading incubators for new musicals.”

About the Writers
Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn (music/lyrics) are a husband-and-wife duo, long-time collaborators, and two-thirds of the theatrical pop trio GrooveLily. Founded in 1994, GrooveLily has grown from a folk-pop band to a musical theater powerhouse. Their first musical theater hit, 'Striking 12,' based on the story “The Little Matchstick Girl” has become a perennial holiday hit in New York since it was first performed in 2002. Since that time, Vigoda and Milburn have collaborated on shows including' Sleeping Beauty Wakes' with Deaf West and La Jolla Playhouse, 'Wheelhouse' at TheatreWorks, Palo Alto, and' Toy Story: The Musical' for Disney Cruise Lines. They have another new musical, 'Ernest Shackleton Loves Me,' in development. They regularly compose for Disney’s Tinkerbell films. They are the 2009 winners of the ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award and two-time winners of the Jonathan Larson Award for Excellence in Writing for the Theatre.

Duane Poole (book) has written the books for numerous theatrical projects, including 'A Christmas Memory' with Carol Hall and Larry Grossman, and Dorian with James J. Mellon and Scott DeTurk. He has also created tribute evenings to Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt, Stephen Sondheim, and Stephen Schwartz for the Pasadena Playhouse. As a television writer and producer, Poole's credits range from Hanna-Barbera to The Hallmark of Fame, including more than 40 television movies and features. His film 'Shattered Image,' was an official selection at the Venice, Montreal, and Toronto Film Festivals. He has written for performers as varied as Johnny Depp, Glenn Close, Anthony Quinn, Gwen Verdon, Jack Lemmon, George Clooney, Fred Flintstone, and Katharine Hepburn.

About The 5th Avenue Theatre’s New Works Program
The 5th Avenue Theatre is one of the nation’s leading producers and creators of new work, having premiered 16 original Broadway-caliber musicals since 2001. But The 5th’s commitment to new musicals runs deeper than the fully realized productions audiences see onstage. The 5th Avenue Theatre’s New Works Program fosters the creation of new musicals in each phase of development, from the smallest kernel of an idea to a main stage production, through writer’s retreats, table readings, and workshops. The New Works Program creates specially-crafted development programs for each show that comes under its care, and is committed to creating a positive and safe environment that supports the unique needs of each project.

The New Works mission is 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; and to create integrated, dynamic partnerships between The 5th Avenue Theatre and writers of new musicals in Seattle, across the country, and around the world.

About The 5th Avenue Theatre
The 5th Avenue Theatre is one of the nation's premier incubators for new musical theater. Since 2002, the celebrated company has produced 16 new musicals. To date, nine (including 'Disney’s Aladdin') have moved on to Broadway premieres, earning a combined 14 Tony Awards, including two for Best Musical ('Hairspray' and 'Memphis'). The 5th Avenue Theatre is also known for its world class, critically acclaimed productions of musicals chosen from both the contemporary canon and the Golden Age of Broadway.

Unique in its Chinese-inspired design, this exquisite theater opened in 1926 as a venue for vaudeville and film. In 1980, the non-profit 5th Avenue Theatre began producing and presenting top-quality live musical theater. Today, under the leadership of Executive Producer and Artistic Director David Armstrong, Managing Director Bernadine C. Griffin and Producing Artistic Director Bill Berry, The 5th Avenue Theatre attracts an annual attendance of more than 287,000 and ranks among the nation’s largest and most respected musical theater companies.

In addition to its main stage productions, The 5th Avenue Theatre is also committed to encouraging the next generation of theatergoers through its extensive educational outreach programs which include: The Adventure Musical Theatre Touring Company, The 5th Avenue Awards Honoring High School Musical Theater, the Rising Star Project, Show Talks with Albert Evans, Curtain Up!, the Student Matinee Program, and Spotlight Nights.

For more information about The 5th Avenue Theatre, its season and its programs, please visit

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Bridget Summers
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