Photo courtesy Adrienne Campbell-Holt: The cast and creative team of  ‘Afterwords,’ including director Adrienne Campbell-Holt, far right, take some time to relax during production of the musical, which is wrapping up its last week at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. Campbell-Holt has enjoyed her time in Seattle, staying in Magnolia with her family.
Photo courtesy Adrienne Campbell-Holt: The cast and creative team of ‘Afterwords,’ including director Adrienne Campbell-Holt, far right, take some time to relax during production of the musical, which is wrapping up its last week at The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. Campbell-Holt has enjoyed her time in Seattle, staying in Magnolia with her family.

Adrienne Campbell-Holt is the Founding Artistic Director of Colt Coeur theater company in Brooklyn and the 2018 recipient of the Lucille Lortel Visionary Director Award. This year, she got to experience the spring season in Magnolia when she came to town to direct the world premiere of “Afterwords” at the 5th Avenue Theatre. Life in Seattle looked a little different than what this New York City-based director and choreographer is used to, and she found it very luxurious.

 They really loved Ella Bailey Park for the open space and breathtaking views.

Most of the time, Campbell-Holt lives with her husband, actor Brian Wiles, in Manhattan’s Upper West Side in an 800-square-foot apartment. They have two young children: Esme, 3, and Desmond, 10 months, and have spent the pandemic adjusting their artistic lifestyles to accommodate the additional demands of parenthood.

Campbell-Holt not only looked forward to returning to in-person theater, she was also excited about the opportunity to experience life in a Magnolia home and enjoy the semi-suburban lifestyle.

“We luxuriated in so many of the singularly Seattle specifics: the lushness of the landscape, including a redwood tree in the back yard, the ease of having a car, the rich cultural offerings and the space,” she said. “The kids had their own rooms, which meant everyone slept so much better.”

 The nature, personal car and spare bedrooms are things that few families in New York City can enjoy. Campbell-Holt said her family appreciated having the space for a playroom, a spare bedroom for an office space, and even some room for family and friends that wanted to see her latest production.

Afterwords” is a brand-new musical that centers around the lives of women and has an all-female creative team.

“It has evolved immensely,” Campbell-Holt said about her journey with the piece.

When she first heard it, she fell in love with the music by Zoe Sarnak, a New York City composer, and Jonathan Larson, an award winner whose work has been featured at prestigious theaters in New York city and across the country, and that was before she was joined by the book writer Emily Kaczmarek, a Los Angeles-based playwright and screenwriter who is also a Jonathan Larson Grant recipient. The music and lyrics are complemented by the choreography of Ebony Williams, a Boston native who has choreographed for Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Broadway and the movie version of “In The Heights.”

The Seattle ties and audience reactions have been strong. “Afterwords” is receiving enthusiastic standing ovations, and Campbell-Holt’s inbox is filled with rave reviews: “Every single thing about the show was so heartwarming;” “The show made me feel seen;” “What a beautiful piece of art;” and “I think it is my favorite musical of all time;” are just some of the comments. This work was previously workshopped at The Village Theater’s Beta Series in 2018 and recorded an audio version with all Seattle talent during the pandemic hiatus.

The cast includes many familiar Seattle faces. Most notably, Ballard’s Eliza Palasz understudies the lead role and went on to perform with only one rehearsal. She described the experience as being a little surreal but thrilling to perform in her hometown again.

“I’m obsessed with Seattle,” Palasz said. “I love hiking, being outside, the ocean, fresh air. I’m always happy to be back here.”

She said she was particularly excited to be on the same stage where she grew up watching others.

“The 5th Avenue Theatre has made a lot of positive changes as far as diversity and communication,” Palasz said. “Their commitment to new musicals is really encouraging.”

Palasz said she had only worked with one female director before this production.

“I love Adrienne, and I am so amazed that she was able to direct an entire show with her two small children here in Seattle,” she said.

Campbell-Holt said that balancing work and motherhood in the Pacific Northwest was challenging but enjoyable. She credits the local Facebook groups for their helpful suggestions and making the transition more manageable. At the beginning of the year, she posted in one of the parent groups asking for childcare recommendations. That is where she connected with Busy Bees, a new home-based daycare in Magnolia that made space for her children. And she said that the Magnolia Buy Nothing community was a lifesaver -- with all the hand-me-down baby toys and equipment she needed. Her family enjoyed having the space to spread out while appreciating the neighborhood feeling, even running into a college friend on a visit to Uptown Espresso. Whenever the stress of work and parenthood started to get to her, she headed out for a run in the beautiful Seattle air. She said she is “very lucky to get to run in Central Park.”

“But Discovery Park is hands down the most spectacular running of my life,” she said. “I ran Loop 1 at least once a week the whole time I was in Seattle.”

There is one more week to see “Afterwords” at the 5th Avenue Theatre, 1308 Fifth Ave, Seattle. Remaining performances are 7:30 today through Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. Saturday.