This season, 47 Rising Star Project teens from 31 different schools across the Puget Sound region immersed themselves in the complex and exciting process of creating new musicals. Students were given the opportunity to participate in multiple ways: as book writers, composers and lyricists; directors and music directors; stage managers; actors; marketing and public relations administrators; and producers.

This year’s 10-Minute Musicals were written in response to one of the most popular stories featuring teenagers—Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. For six months, participants spent over one hundred hours at The 5th learning from a local playwright and professional theater artists. Thirteen writers created six distinct stories incorporating a diversity of musical genres from cumbia and rock to jazz and soul. Two of the musicals featured Deaf actors and incorporated American Sign Language. The program culminated four performances at The 5th, the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, the Centilia Cultural Center at El Centro de la Raza, and the Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center—which were attended by hundreds of friends, family and community members.

“I think it has been amazingseeing the final presentation and seeing these stories and feeling something I have never quite felt before: that a group like this could be given the power to tell our stories. This permission that I have been given feels like it is going to last me for the rest of my life. I am allowed to tell whatever stories I want and write music with whatever sounds I want and musical theater can be whatever I want it to be.“ – Diego Ortiz Villacorta San Juan, student writer

I remember there was one day [while we were still workshopping the musicals] and I just had this feeling when I went in the room that I knew what my goals were. And I just felt like I did a good job leading that workshop and I helped [the writers and actors] make discoveries and . . . that was the first day I ever felt like, wow, I can do this. This has helped me realize that I do have the talent to be able to follow my dreams.” – Emilio Torres, student director

10-Minute Musicals, part of our Rising Star Project, is completely tuition-free and made possible by a generous grant from The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation with additional support from the following sponsors: The Boeing Company, Schultz Family Foundation, Susie and Phil Stoller, RealNetworks Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington State Arts Commission, Linda and Kevin Cheung – Start It! Foundation,  GM Nameplate, The Jean K. Lafromboise Foundation, Claudia and Bob Nelson, Seattle Rotary Service Foundation, Elizabeth and Gary Sundem, and Becca and Bill Wert.

Thank you to all of this year’s Rising Star Project sponsors and supporters!