Thursday, April 12, 2018

REVIEW: Feisty Firebrand's 9 to 5 Terrifically Timeless #MeToo Moment Through 5/20/18

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

 Firebrand Theatre Presents
Music & Lyrics by Dolly Parton
Book by Patricia Resnick  
Directed by Artistic Director Harmony France
Music Direction by Andra Velis-Simon
Choreography by Kasey Alfonso

(front, l to r) Sharriese Hamilton, Veronica Garza, Tyler Symone, Michael Turrentine, Khaki Pixley, Scott Danielson and Alyssa Soto with (back, l to r) Royen Kent, Elizabeth Morgan and Ted Kitterman. 
Photo by Emily Schwartz.

Firebrand Theatre's inaugural productionLIZZIE, was a scorcher, so I couldn't wait to see their take on 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL. This scrappy newcomer did not disappoint. Firebrand stayed true to their ideals and put on one rockin' retro musical that's as funny as it is fabulous. The whole cast's vocal prowess is impressive and more than fills the space. In 2018 we may be past the days of mimeographs and secretarial pools, but workplace harassment, the glass ceiling, and the thankless juggling act single working moms do, are still a glaring reality. This is the perfect, cathartic revenge fantasy, with a catchy score by Dolly Parton, and talent to spare. I highly recommend 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL, now playing through May 20th. 

(left to right) Sharriese Hamilton, Anne Sheridan Smith, Scott Danielson and Sara Reinecke in Firebrand Theatre’s production of 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL. Photo by Emily Schwartz.

The live band on stage, and strings integrated into the storyline are a playful and excellent addition to killer vocals. Firebrand more than does justice to Dolly Parton's songs and 9 to 5's wickedly witty solution to a lifetime of #MeToo moments. 

(left to right) Sharriese Hamilton, Tyler Symone, Elizabeth Morgan, Veronica Garza, Khaki Pixley and Alyssa Soto. Photo by Emily Schwartz.

Kudos to cast and crew for another rockin' fem focused production. We're elated Firebrand is part of Chicago's theatre community. We appreciate their mission as the first musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding opportunities on and off the stage. Until the playing field is truly level in Chicago theatre and beyond, it's a welcome and necessary aim. Here at ChiIL Live Shows, we're looking forward to their next season. Firebrand is a hot ticket and certainly one to watch. 

April 7 – May 20, 2018 at The Den Theatre

Following its critically acclaimed hit LIZZIE, Firebrand Theatre, is pleased to conclude its inaugural season with the musical comedy 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL featuring music and lyrics by Dolly Parton, book by Patricia Resnick, direction by Artistic Director Harmony France, music direction by Andra Velis-Simon and choreography by Kasey Alfonso. 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL will play April 7 – May 20, 2018 at its resident home, The Den Theatre (Bookspan Theatre), 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.  Tickets are currently available at

Photo by Tyler Core Shoots — with Veronica Garza, Kasey Alfonso, Harmony France, Sharriese Hamilton, Alyssa Soto, Andra Velis Simon, Anne Smith, Tyler Symone, Sara Reinecke and Adelina Feldman-Schultz at The Den Theatre.

9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL will feature Sharriese Hamilton as Doralee, Anne Sheridan Smith as Violet, Sara Reinecke as Judy, Scott Danielson as Hart, Veronica Garza as Roz and Michael Turrentine as Joe with Royen Kent, Ted Kitterman, Elizabeth Morgan, Khaki Pixley, Alyssa Soto and Tyler Symone. Swings include Roy Brown, Brandy Miller and Abby Murray Vachon.

Based on the 1980 hit movie of the same name, 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL follows three unlikely friends as they take control of their office and learn there is nothing they can't do, even in a man's world. Filled with Dolly Parton's signature songs and packed with laughs, this heartfelt story still rings true today. 9 to 5 THE MUSICAL is about women shattering stereotypes, lifting each other up and succeeding beyond their wildest dreams. 

The production team for 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL includes Eleanor Kahn (scenic design), Virginia Varland (costume design), Heather Gilbert (lighting design), Amanda Sager (sound design), Geoff Bleeker (production manager), Adelina Feldman-Schultz (asst. director, casting director), Caswell James (technical director) and JC Widman (stage manager).

9to5-1 (front, l to r) Sara Reinecke, Sharriese Hamilton and Anne Sheridan Smith with (back, l to r) Tyler Symone, Ted Kitterman, Veronica Garza and Elizabeth Morgan in Firebrand Theatre’s production of 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL. Photo by Emily Schwartz.


Cast (in alphabetical order): Scott Danielson (Hart), Veronica Garza (Roz), Sharriese Hamilton (Doralee), Royen Kent (Bob, Dwayne), Ted Kitterman (Dick, Tinsworthy), Elizabeth Morgan (Margaret, Missy), Khaki Pixley (Kathy), Sara Reinecke (Judy), Anne Sheridan Smith (Violet), Alyssa Soto (Maria), Tyler Symone (Josh) and Michael Turrentine (Joe).
Swings: Roy Brown, Brandy Miller and Abby Murray Vachon.

Location: The Den Theatre's Bookspan Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Dates: Previews: Saturday, April 7 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, April 8 at 3 pm
Press performance: Tuesday, April 10 at 7:30 pm
Regular run: Thursdays, April 12 – Sunday, May 20, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm

Tickets: Regular run $45. Students $20. Tickets are currently available at

About The Creative Team
Harmony France (Director) is artistic director of Firebrand Theatre, founding artistic director of Blue Moon Studio Theatre, a freelance casting director, and director and educator. Harmony has traveled the world with the Broadway National/International tour of Sister Act. She has been nominated for two Jeff Awards for Best Actress and is the recipient of a Broadway World Award. Harmony has worked with Paramount Theatre, Peninsula Players, Theatre at the Center, Bailiwick Chicago, Porchlight Music Theatre, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, Windy City Playhouse, The New Colony, Timber Lake Playhouse, Route 66 and Chicago Children's Theatre. She studied opera at Brenau University and acting at Columbia College Chicago.

Andra Velis Simon (Music Director) is a music director, adapter, arranger, vocal coach and pianist based in Chicago. Regionally, her work has been seen at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, A.R.T. in Cambridge, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Berkeley Rep, Olney Theatre Center in Maryland and Three Oaks in Michigan. In Chicago: Firebrand Theatre (Lizzie), The Goodman Theatre (The Iceman Cometh and Camino Real), Theater Wit (Mr. Burns: a post-electric play and 10 out of 12), Chicago Children’s Theatre (The Hundred Dresses, A Year with Frog and Toad, Goodnight Moon), The Hypocrites (Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes, American Idiot, Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, HMS Pinafore), Windy City Playhouse, and many others. Andra is an adjunct faculty member at Columbia College Chicago, where she teaches several musical theatre performance courses, and where she served as the staff Musical Director for the Theatre Department from 2008-2016.

(left to right) Sara Reinecke, Anne Sheridan Smith and Sharriese Hamilton. Photo by Emily Schwartz.

(left to right) Tyler Symone, Khaki Pixley, Sara Reinecke, Anne Sheridan Smith, Sharriese Hamilton, Alyssa Soto and Elizabeth Morgan. Photo by Emily Schwartz.

Mission Statement
FIREBRAND THEATRE is a musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding their opportunities on and off the stage. Firebrand is a 501(c)(3) Equity theatre.

Company members: Artistic Director: Harmony France, Advisory Board: Lili-Anne Brown, Brenda Didier, Kate Garassino, Emjoy Gavino, Amber Mak, Danni Smith, Company Members: Kasey Alfonso, Sydney Charles, Heather Clark, Adelina Feldman-Schultz, Amanda Horvath, Jon Martinez, Eric Martin, Amelia Jo Parish and Andra Velis-Simon.

 9to5-6 (front center) Anne Sheridan Smith with (left to right) Michael Turrentine, Khaki Pixley, Ted Kitterman, Royen Kent and Tyler Symone in Firebrand Theatre’s production of 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL. Photo by Emily Schwartz.

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