For some time after the new inhabitants of the tiny village of Seattle first arrived in the autumn of 1851 they relied on themselves for companionship and entertainment. Soon additional new settlers arrived and for the following decades Henry L. Yesler's sawmill log cookhouse, on the waterfront at the foot of Mill Street (today’s Yesler Way), provided the new community with a public gathering space. In 1865 Yesler built the Pavilion on the SE corner of Front Street (today's 1st Avenue) and Cherry Street. Since that time, opera and theatre has become a mainstay of the Greater Seattle area's growing thirst for premier entertainment.
Bellevue Opera - Bellevue
Founded in 1978 as the Peccadillo Players, Bellevue Opera has provided musical theater entertainment for the Eastside and the Greater Puget Sound region for over two decades. As a community amateur theater group, the Peccadillo Players focused solely on presenting the works of Gilbert & Sullivan.
After a change in leadership in January of 2004 with the goal of bringing grand opera to the community, they voted to include works in the standard opera repertoire and to become Bellevue Opera in practice as well as in name. In July of 2004, Bellevue Opera presented a concert version of Verdi’s “Rigoletto”. This production featured an outstanding cast and orchestra and drew raves from patrons. Clearly, Bellevue Opera has taken an important step into the future of grand opera for the City of Bellevue and the Eastside; and a step that will guarantee the future of one of Bellevue's most important cultural assets.
Bellevue Opera productions are currently hosted in Maydenbauer Center in Bellevue.
Black Box Opera Theater - Seattle
Black Box Opera Theater was founded by colleagues baritone Victor Benedetti, mezzo-soprano Carolyn Grönlund, and lyric soprano Juliana Rambaldi. It is the producing arm of the Ellen Faull Gordon Northwest Opera Center, a public non-profit organization.
Black Box Opera Theater is a group of opera professionals that produces topical operas of this century and the last, as well as neglected masterpieces. With an ensemble of artists based primarily in Seattle, BBOT is especially able to contribute to a vibrant home-grown culture of operatic performance in the Pacific Northwest.
BBOT performance venues include; the Ethnic Cultural Theatre, University of Washington - Seattle, Columbia City Theater - Seattle, Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center - Seattle, Bainbridge Performing Arts Center - Bainbridge, Brechemin Auditorium - Seattle, Lakeview Free Methodist Church - Seattle and Congregational Church of Mercer Island.
Lyric Opera Northwest - Bellevue
Lyric Opera Northwest is a subsidiary of A Celebration of Music! (“ACOM!”) ACOM! was begun in the late 1990’s by international artists Craig Nim and Pam Casella Nim for a very well received series of concerts featuring two other marvelous international musicians, violinist Vilhelmas Cepinskis and pianist William Thomas Smiddy. There were standing ovations after almost every stupendous piece.
With many years performing and planning productions, Craig and Pam are now providing quality performances for international artists as well as for singers who welcome the opportunity to continue to add roles and build their resumes. Realizing that there is a huge gap between university productions and, for instance, the Metropolitan Opera, the experience has to be gained somewhere, and singers often feel their only resort is to relocate in Europe or on the East Coast.
Lyric Opera Northwest, has presented productions in Bellevue’s Meydenbauer Theater, including “Madama Butterfly” in 2006 and “La Traviata” in 2007.
Opera Pacifica - Olympia
Opera Pacifica (Opera Pacifica Education and Repertory Association) was founded on March 20, 2002. The Association productions serve southwestern Washington including the areas of Olympia, Lacey, Hoquiam Centralia and Chehalis, Fort Lewis and Yelm. The Association’s goal and mission is to perform a minimum of two major operas per year, hold regular recitals, perform at various fundraisers and community events, conduct classes for young people in music appreciation and performance, conduct lecture series with performance examples for school children and at adult education classes. Claudia Simpson-Jones is the current maestro for Opera Pacifica.
In 2003, Opera Pacifica purchased the beautiful Fox Theater (circa 1930) in Centralia, Washington. This elegant, historic theatre is located on the corner of South Tower and Locust Streets in Centralia. It is currently undergoing extensive renovations for future use by Opera Pacifica.
Seattle Children’s Theatre - Seattle
Seattle Children’s Theatre (SCT) is the second largest resident theatre for young audiences in North America. Their programs empower young people to make new discoveries about themselves and the world around them while building a lifelong interest in the arts. The mission of Seattle Children’s Theatre is to provide children of all ages access to professional theatre, with a focus on new works, and theatre education.
Since its inception, Seattle Children’s Theatre has strived to provide innovative artistic programming and professional theatre for the young people and families of the Puget Sound region. SCT moved into the 482-seat Charlotte Martin Theatre in 1993, the 275-seat Eve Alvord Theatre in 1995, and completed the Allen Family Technical Pavilion, which consists of the paint, costume, prop, and scene shops as well as rehearsal and classroom spaces, in 2000. This state-of-the-art facility was the first self-contained theatre complex built for young audiences in the nation, and has since been used as a model for other theatres.
Seattle Opera - Seattle
Founded in 1963, Seattle Opera is one of the leading opera companies in the United States. The company is recognized internationally for the quality of its productions and as the pre-eminent presenter of Wagner’s opera in the United States.
While under the direction of its founding general director Glynn Ross, Seattle Opera’s noteworthy accomplishments included presenting the 1970 world premiere of Carlisle Floyd’s opera “Of Mice and Men,” the 1971 first fully staged production of The Who’s rock opera “Tommy,” and the 1972 world premiere of Pasatieri’s “Black Widow.” In 1975, Seattle Opera gave its first complete cycle of Wagner’s “Ring des Nibelungen” in one week, an event that had not happened in the United States since 1939 (and unique outside of New York). This Ring festival continued for nine consecutive summers until 1984.
In the last 20 years, Seattle Opera has gone beyond the standard repertoire to present such operas as “Handel’s Xerxes” and “Julius Caesar,” Delibes’ “Lakmé,” Weber’s “Freischütz,” and Britten’s “Turn of the Screw.” In October 2007, Seattle Opera premiered a co-production with the Metropolitan Opera of “Gluck’s Iphigenia in Tauris.”
Seattle Opera’s artistic achievements have been widely enjoyed by the public; the company has attained, on an opera-by-opera basis, the highest per capita attendance of any major opera company in the U.S. In addition to serving high numbers of people through its mainstage offerings, Seattle Opera serves thousands more through its groundbreaking education programs, its building of sets for other companies, and its assumption of special projects, such as repairing the Monorail doors for the City of Seattle. For now and for the future, Seattle Opera remains committed to its mission of “producing musically extraordinary, theatrically compelling operas.”
Seattle Repertory Theatre - Seattle
One of the largest and most renowned regional theatres in the country, Seattle Repertory Theatre produces a mix of classic comedies, recent Broadway hits and cutting-edge new dramas in two theatre spaces.
Since their founding in 1963, actors like Lawrence Fishburne, Lily Tomlin, Samuel L. Jackson, Meryl Streep, Richard Gere, Richard Chamberlain, Jessica Tandy, Christopher Walken and many more have all “walked the boards” at the Rep.
They’ve premiered plays by August Wilson, Neil Simon, John Patrick Shanley, Wendy Wasserstein, Sarah Ruhl and many others, and some of the world’s top directors, designers and artisans have brought their shows to life.
They won the 1990 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre.
Seattle Repertory Theatre is located at the northwest corner of the Seattle Center in the Lower Queen Anne neighborhood.
Seattle Shakespeare Company - Seattle
Seattle Shakespeare Company was founded in 1991. They host timeless Shakespearean plays three times a year at the Center House Theatre at Seattle Center, one classic, and one contemporary play based on classic themes or in the classic style. During the summer they produce two free outdoor productions that tour to parks in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. They also produce a touring show for schools and other venues and have innovative education programs that include workshops, residencies, classes, and summer camps.
Skagit Opera - Mount Vernon
The Skagit Opera began their work conservatively, with small productions and concerts, and have recently moved up to two staged productions, Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado in October 2004, and Mozart’s Magic Flute in March 2005.
In their early days, they performed in acoustically superb venues for such productions including St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and The Lincoln Theatre in Mount Vernon. In March of 2005 they moved into the beautiful new McIntyre Hall for the “Magic Flute” production; here the ambience and acoustics of the hall are fantastic. McIntyre Hall Performing Arts Center is located on the Skagit Valley College Mount Vernon campus.
Stone Soup Theatre - Seattle
In 1996, Maureen Miko wanted to start small, neighborhood-oriented professional theatre. She found a defunct pet grooming shop standing empty on Stone Way, walked in and saw possibilities. The street name reminded her of a favorite story from her childhood about hungry, tired soldiers limpin into an impoverished village where the villagers are none-too-interested in sharin their meager stores of food. Bringing together the street name and this old fable, Stone Soup Theatre was born. Here at Stone Soup, it is our philosophy that everyone - actor, author and audience - bring an essential ingredient to the creation of theatre and the sum is always greater than the parts.
In 1999 Stone Soup Theatre began entertaining Seattle audiences with professional productions of one-act plays. The works of Tennessee Williams, Eugene Ionesco, John Guare, A.A. Milne, Harold Pinter, Thornton Wilder, Anto Chekhov, Neil Simon, Edward Albee, Tom Stoppard and Athol Fugard have been featured.
Stone Soup Theatre is located on Stone Way N. in Seattle.
Tacoma Opera - Tacoma
Since its founding in 1968, Tacoma Opera has produced opera in all its guises, presenting a spectrum of works in intimate settings, much as the original composers intended. Traditional productions such as “La Bohème” and “Carmen” are showcased at Tacoma’s beautifully-restored Pantages Theater. Rarer operas such as “Beatrice and Benedict” are performed at the jewelbox Rialto Theater and other locations that create close connections between the audience and the performers.
With an audience that stretches from Oregon to British Columbia and a pool of artists that includes local Northwest performers and principal artists from across the country, community support and sold-out houses have set Tacoma Opera on a path of steady growth in recent years.
Taproot Theatre Company - Seattle
Taproot Theatre Company was founded in 1976 by six college graduates from Seattle Pacific University. From its humble beginnings as a touring group, the company has now become one of Seattle’s largest mid-size theatre companies. Today, Taproot Theatre serves over 150,000 people annually throughout the Pacific Northwest with a full Mainstage season, touring programs and Acting Studio.
Taproot Theatre touring programs include the Road Company, performing plays for elementary and secondary schools focusing on issues such as bullying prevention, substance abuse, and friendship skills; along with family oriented productions and improv comedy for churches, clubs, office parties and other groups. Taproot Theatre is located on N. 85th Street in Seattle.
Village Theatre - Everett and Issaquah
Founded in 1979, Village Theatre is a leading producer of musical theatre in the Pacific Northwest with four main programming components: Mainstage, Village Originals, and a Youth Education Program which includes both KIDSTAGE and Pied Piper. It is a non-profit professional producing musical theatre company.
Village Theatre has grown into one of the region’s largest professional theatres, with over 18,000 subscribers to the 2007-2008 mainstage season, 182,600 patron visits, mainstage performances in Issaquah and Everett, youth education programs serving over 53,000 young people annually, and a nationally-recognized program, Village Originals, which has developed of over 75 new musicals to date. Combined, Village Theatre programs perform on a total of seven stages throughout the Puget Sound area. Village Theatre is one of the top three professional theatre companies in the Puget Sound area.
To date Village Theatre’s Village Originals program has developed over 75 new musicals, some of which have gone on to stages that include Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC; Pittsburg Public; York Theatre - Off Broadway, New York; Goodspeed Opera House - Connecticut; Chichester Festival - London; Koshiung Cultural Center - Taiwan; Hsinchu Cultural Center - Taiwan; National Theatre - Taipei; Los Angeles; The Cutting Room - New York; Singapore; San Jose Repertory Theatre; and Marriott Lincolnshire - Chicago.
Village Theatre owns two theatres in Issaquah; the beloved 1914 First Stage Theatre and the Francis J. Gaudette Theatre built in 1994. Village Theatre was contracted by the City of Everett in 1998 to be the resident performing and management company at the Everett Performing Arts Center.
Washington Ensemble Theatre - Seattle
The Ensemble is invested in the re-examination of the traditional approach to theatre-making. Through a highly collaborative process they produce relevant, immediate theatre of the widest imagination.
The Washington Ensemble Theatre is committed to maintaining an environment where their members, as well as artists from the community, are challenged to grow through their work as an ensemble.
The Ensemble is located in Capitol Hill, on 19th Avenue East between Mercer and Roy Streets.