5th Floor Theatre supports the community of emerging non-union theatre artists as they build a foundation for their careers. The theatre industry in New York City is the most competitive in the world, with challenges that often pose significant barriers to aspiring talent. Newcomers without industry representation must have a strong combination of creativity, education and networking skills in order to identify and leverage opportunities for growth in the theatre arts.
5th Floor aims to educate and empower these emerging professionals as they develop these needed skills, providing services that include:
- Audition/casting guidance and support
- Industry networking events and resources
- Strategic performance opportunities
Through a welcoming creative network and carefully selected productions, and by providing educational and professional development resources for emerging artists, 5th Floor serves as New York City’s home for undiscovered theatrical talent.
Corey Chambliss (Director of Marketing and Communications) is a strategic communications professional at the media company Time Warner Inc. He was previously a crisis and issues management specialist with the communications marketing firm Edelman, and served in the Administration of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He completed his undergraduate studies at New York University with a B.A. in Political Science. He resides in Manhattan.
Nicole Grillos (Board Member) originally from New York, started her 5th Floor career playing all the elderly woman roles. She began casting the shows and moved from acting into full-time casting, working at such offices as Telsey and Company and Theatreworks/USA before spending four years at Joy Dewing Casting, where she was an associate casting director. She currently lives in Los Angeles and is working in yet another area of the entertainment industry as a junior agent at Across the Board Talent.
Michelle Israel (Director of Artistic Services) has worked behind the camera in Film and Television for the last 10 years. Past projects have included “Gossip Girl”, “Mildred Pierce”, “Young Adult”, “Inside Llewyn Davis”, and “The Night Of”. Michelle graduated from New York University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and currently lives in Brooklyn.
Natalie Rohr (Director of Development) is the Special Events Manager for Roundabout Theatre Company and has previously worked in various administrative and production roles with Big Apple Circus, The Czech-American Marionette Theatre Company, Summer Play Festival, Ardea Arts, and GOH Productions. Natalie graduated from New York University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies with a focus on producing and theatre and currently resides in Brooklyn.
Michael Sancilio (Executive Director) is a Vice President and Head of the Private Fund Client Service Team at Neuberger Berman LLC. Michael obtained a Master of Business Administration from Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business and completed his undergraduate studies at New York University with a BA in Economics. Michael resides in New York City with his husband and two pets.
HISTORY OF 5TH FLOOR
5th Floor Theatre – originally named 5th Floor Productions – was conceived and launched in early 2008 by recent college graduates working full-time in the fields of finance, law, and film and theatre production. The idea was to offer a “drama club” experience for young professionals, particularly those not pursuing careers in theatre but nonetheless possessing the talent and passion for the performing arts.
The company’s first production was Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, contemporized to the present-day both for ease and cost-effectiveness. Despite the limited size of the sixty-five seat house, and the modest ticket sales as a result, the show exceeded the norm for the West Village venue, leading the proprietors to request an extension of our production and to offer assistance raising funds for outstanding legal fees. While declining an extension for logistical reasons, 5th Floor thought the interest generated from this first run suggested a greater drawing power than expected.
With revenue earned from ticket sales, 5th Floor decided to produce its first musical, the contemporary See What I Wanna See. The group moved to a larger venue with a capacity of approximately 100 seats, as suggested by its rigorous budget modeling. With higher production costs came the need to sell a greater number of tickets and an incentive to ensure continued growth. That growth was intended to fund the founding of a not-for-profit organization.
The production fell short of that ambitious goal, and 5th Floor returned to straight plays, choosing Dog Sees God in Fall 2009. It was made evident during this season that 5th Floor’s core constituency was not young professionals merely seeking an avocational drama club, but aspiring professional performers in need of opportunities and resources. This continued through the company’s next four productions between 2010 and 2014 – the full-length musicals Urinetown, Assassins, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Debbie Does Dallas the Musical. Over the years, 5th Floor has consistently attracted young non-union performers who possess great talent and professionalism, but who, oftentimes, have recently moved to New York City and struggle to find on-stage opportunities without either previous New York City credits or union status.
Most recently, our organization’s efforts culminated in a Fall 2015 production of Jonathan Larson’s Rent, under the company’s rebranding as 5th Floor Theatre. The show created a whirlwind of publicity—its six scheduled performances sold out in a matter of days. Since its inception, 5th Floor Theatre has sold over 3,000 tickets and supported the career growth of over 200 artists—several of whom have gone on to perform on Broadway.
It is this combination of factors – a strong history, sound financial planning, and a firm sense of its core constituency of young professionals and aspiring performers – that brings 5th Floor to this current moment. Now renamed 5th Floor Theatre, the company aims to combine its brand recognition earned since 2008 with a recently-honed mission to not only produce theatre more frequently and with a higher level of professionalism, but also to offer career development resources to the young artists who constitute its membership.
Michael Sancilio Executive Director
Natalie Rohr Director of Development
Michelle Israel Director of Artistic Services
Corey Chambliss Director of Marketing and Communications
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Robert Argen Associate, Moses & Singer LLP
Erin Doyle Broadway Video
Michael Gioia Playbill
Jason Gotay Artist
Nikki Grillos Across the Board Talent
Jonathan Mars Edelman
Gabby Nadig Founder, Buffalo Picture House
Shelby Prichard Chief of Staff, National September 11 Memorial and Museum
Michael Sancilio Neuberger Berman
Paresh Shah Neuberger Berman
By Casey Mink | Nov. 9, 2016
Since its founding in 2008, 5th Floor Theatre Company has produced plays and musicals in New York City while equipping its company members with industry support and guidance. Now, the organization is transitioning to nonprofit status with the intent to further provide a foundation for aspiring nonunion theater professionals.
“We landed on this idea of wanting to sort of be the Second City of the New York theater scene,” explained Corey Chambliss, 5th Floor Theatre’s co-founder and director of marketing. “We’re excited to have discovered our voice, so to speak, as a nonprofit, and that’s come from working with aspiring professionals to really zero in on what the need is for nonunion theater artists.”
Founded by Chambliss along with four other performers all working traditional desk jobs, 5th Floor was initially determined to provide a space for “9-to-5ers” in need of a legitimate performance outlet. It became clear, though, that it more heavily attracted a different type of performer: the nonunion actor breaking into the New York scene.
“Over the last five, six years, we realized that’s the audience that really needs the service we are trying to provide,” Chambliss said. “That’s where this new mission and this new restructuring as a nonprofit came from.”
5th Floor—which boasts notable alumni, including “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” star Jason Gotay, among others—held an event Nov. 6 at the Delancey in New York City to reintroduce itself in its new iteration. The evening, called Start on 5th Floor, featured performances by both theater company alumni and current company members and was hosted by alum-turned-board member Michael Gioia. In addition to detailing new initiatives as a nonprofit and announcing its 2017 season, the event also allowed 5th Floor performers and others in the industry to rub shoulders in an intimate setting, something Chambliss hopes to thoroughly incorporate into the new infrastructure.
“We want to hold events that provide an up-close-and-personal level of insight into the workings of the industry itself,” Chambliss said. “One of the first events we do in that regard will probably be something with casting directors. We want to say, ‘Hey, this is what casting directors are thinking when you walk into the room’…so that maybe the prospects are a bit less intimidating to those who are new to the process.”
In its new incarnation, 5th Floor hopes to continue nurturing nonunion actors while expanding to novice nonperforming theatrical professionals, like playwrights, directors, and technicians.
Above all else, 5th Floor intends to continue providing fuel for artists in an industry in which passion can often be squandered. “In working closely with actors, we’ve seen the competitive nature and the unforgiving environment of the professional theater landscape in New York,” Chambliss said. “We realized this was important when we really saw that it’s providing almost a return to why people who do theater came to love it in the first place.”