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Showing posts with label Firebrand Theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Firebrand Theatre. Show all posts

Friday, December 6, 2019

REVIEW: Firebrand Theatre’s Always... Patsy Cline Now Extended Through January 4, 2020

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar
Three Added Weeks of Performances!
Firebrand Theatre’s
ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE
Extends Through January 4, 2020 at The Den Theatre


Christina Hall in Firebrand Theatre’s production of ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE. 
All Photos by Michael Brosilow.

Featuring Harmony France and Christina Hall 
in Alternating Roles

Due to popular demand, Firebrand Theatre’s hit revival of ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE will add three additional weeks of performances, extending through Saturday, January 4, 2020 at The Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago.

(left to right) Christina Hall and Harmony France


Trading Off In The Lead Roles: 
Harmony France as Patsy Cline & Christina Hall as Louise Seger



REVIEW:
by bonnie kenaz-mara

Firebrand Theatre’s Always Patsy Cline is so enjoyable, I just bought 3 tickets as birthday gifts and I'm sending my in laws and husband to catch it this weekend. For the press opening, I caught Christina Hall as iconic country crossover star, Patsy Cline. Her impressive vocals and embodiment of Cline were spot on. 


(pictured) Christina Hall 


I also adored Firebrand's Artistic Director, Harmony France as feisty, fangirl Louise. She's a hoot! Both powerhouse vocalists have played Patsy Cline in past productions, so either cast configuration is a win/win and I love that Firebrand has cast the show this way. It's a rare treat to see a production where the leads trade off in a 50/50 split, and it's exciting to see how it changes up the show having different actors in each role. I'm seriously considering coming back again to see the roles swapped. 

(left to right) Harmony France and Christina Hall 

Always Patsy Cline is a delightful time capsule of true friendship, the travails of touring as a young mother, southern hospitality, old school correspondence and the power of music to draw people together and get them through tough times. Don't miss this celebration of simpler times and a talent taken too soon.

(pictured) Christina Hall 


From blackbox to barn, The Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre has been transformed into a homey little venue, complete with cabaret tables and southern charm. The band is dressed for line dancing and prominently featured on stage, where they are fun to watch as they play and interact with Patsy and Louise. 

(left to right) Harmony France and Christina Hall 

(left to right) Harmony France and Christina Hall 

Whether these two are breaking out a flask or spilling the tea about exes, kids and life, Firebrand's rendition of this true life friendship is heartfelt, funny and sustaining. Expect to enjoy many of Patsy's unforgettable hits such as “Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Sweet Dreams” and “Walking After Midnight”… 27 songs in all!  The show’s title was inspired by Patsy’s letters to Louise, which were consistently signed “Love ALWAYS… Patsy Cline.”

Harmony France and Christina Hall

Firebrand Theatre’s Always... Patsy Cline is a fabulous find for holiday gifting or entertaining visiting friends and family. Experiential gifts are the ultimate clutter busting choice and great for someone who has everything. So make some memories. Always... Patsy Cline is highly recommended. 

Bonnie Kenaz-Mara is a Chicago based writer-theater critic-photographer-videographer-actress-artist-general creatrix and Mama to two terrific teens. She owns two websites where she has published frequently since 2008: ChiILLiveShows.com (adult) & ChiILMama.com (family friendly).



Firebrand Theatre’s
ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE
Extends Through January 4, 2020 at The Den Theatre

Harmony France as Patsy Cline

Harmony France as Patsy Cline & Christina Hall as Louise Seger

Written by Ted Swindley, with direction by Brigitte Ditmars and music direction by Andra Velis Simon, ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE, features Artistic Director Harmony France and Christina Hall, who have both previously played the titular music legend. France and Hall alternate in the roles of Patsy Cline and Louise Seger – so if you love the show, come see it again with the cast flipped! For tickets and a schedule of roles, visit firebrandtheatre.org.

Patsy Cline was an American country music singer and part of the Nashville sound during the late 1950s and early 1960s. She successfully "crossed over" to pop music and was one of the most influential, successful, and acclaimed vocalists of the 20th century.

ALWAYS… PATSY CLINE is based on the true story of Patsy's friendship with Houstonite Louise Seger. Having first heard Patsy on the Arthur Godfrey Show in 1957, Louise became an immediate and avid fan of Patsy's and she constantly hounded the local disc jockey to play Patsy's records on the radio. In 1961 when Patsy went to Houston for a show, Louise and her buddies arrived about an hour-and-a-half early and, by coincidence, met Patsy who was traveling alone. The two women struck up a friendship – a friendship that lasted the rest of Patsy Cline's life.


Harmony France as Patsy Cline & Christina Hall as Louise Seger

The production team includes Lauren Nichols (scenic design), Steph Taylor (costume design), Cat Wilson (lighting design), Giselle Castro (sound design, sound engineer), Rachelle “Rocky” Kolecke (props design, scenic decoration), Keith Ryan (wig design), Lauren Griffith (assistant director), Richie Vavrina (master electrician), Jessica Baldinger (assistant scenic designer), Adrienne Miikelle Johnson (assistant lighting designer), Jon Martinez (producer), Lucy Walker (associate producer), Rose Hamill (production manager), Anika Jones (assistant production manager), Jacqueline Widman (stage manager) and Claire Haussner (assistant stage manager).

Firebrand is the first musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering womxn* by expanding opportunities on and off the stage. *womxn is used to include trans and non-binary folx.

Music Director: Andra Velis Simon
Cast: Harmony France and Christina Hall (Patsy Cline and Louise Seger).

Band: Andra Velis Simon (conductor/keyboard), Steven Romero Schaeffer (guitars), Emma Sheikh (fiddle) and Tina Muñoz Pandya (drums).

Understudies: Gabby Diaz (Louise) and Liz Chidester (Patsy).

Location: The Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Dates: 
Regular run: Thursday, November 21 – Saturday, January 4, 2020
Curtain Times: Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 pm; Saturdays at 3 pm & 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Thursday, December 26.

Tickets: $40 general admission, $50 VIP cabaret table. $30 Firebrand members. $20 students/industry rush tickets available at the box office. Tickets are currently available at firebrandtheatre.org.

About The Artists
Christina Hall's (Patsy Cline/Louise Seger) recent credits include Gary Griffin’s Into The Woods at Writers Theater and The Fly Honey Show X with the Inconvenience. Other Chicago credits include: Goodman Theatre (Mary Zimmerman’s Wonderful Town, Feathers and Teeth, New Stages Women Laughing Alone with Salad and Cressida on Top); Marriott Theatre Lincolnshire (Emma Goldman in Ragtime – 2018 Jeff Award Best Musical); Paramount Theatre (Ursula in The Little Mermaid); Chicago Shakespeare Theater (Peter Pan); Mercury Theatre (The Man Who Murdered Sherlock Holmes); The Inconvenience (The Fly Honey Show IX, Woyzek in Sarajevo). Milwaukee credits include Milwaukee Repertory Theatre (Always.. Patsy Cline and Run Bambi Run Workshops); Skylight Music Theatre (Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd). Voiceover credits include: Glucerna, CLR, Jacuzzi, Land O’ Lakes and Chateau Saint Michelle. She is a TimeOut Chicago Performer of the Week and is proudly represented by Gray Talent Group.

Harmony France (Patsy Cline/Louise Seger) is a founder and the artistic director of Firebrand Theatre, Chicago's own feminist musical theatre company, where she has been the producer of Lizzie, 9 To 5, Caroline, Or Change, Queen of the Mist and now, Always… Patsy Cline. As an actor, 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 BroadwayWorld Award for playing the title role in Violet at Bailiwick Chicago. Most recently she was the asst. director for David Cromer's acclaimed production of Next To Normal at Writers Theatre. Additionally, Harmony has worked with TimeLine Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Peninsula Players, Theatre at the Center, American Theater Company, Porchlight Music Theatre, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, Windy City Playhouse, The New Colony, Route 66, City Lit Theatre, and Timberlake Playhouse where she played Patsy in  Always, Patsy Cline. She studied opera at Brenau University, acting at Columbia College, and Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. In 2019, she was honored by NewCity Stage as one of the “Fifty People Who Really Perform for Chicago” and has been featured in Crain’s Chicago Business, Chicago Social and Playbill.

Brigitte Ditmars (Director) is a Chicago based director/choreographer with over 25 years of experience in professional and educational theatre.  She is pleased to return to Firebrand having served as Associate Director/Choreographer for Caroline, or Change. Professional credits include work with Birmingham Children's Theatre, Timber Lake Playhouse, Porchlight Music Theatre, American Theater Company, Mercury Theatre, Theater Wit, Emerald City Children's Theatre, Fox Valley Repertory, Circle Theatre, Signal Ensemble Theatre, Hell in a Handbag Productions, Strawdog Theatre, Metropolis Center for the Performing Arts, The Factory Theater and Northwestern University. She has received two Joseph Jefferson Awards for Achievement in Choreography, as well as three additional nominations.

Andra Velis Simon (Music Director) is the Resident Music Director for Firebrand, where she has music directed Caroline, or Change, 9 to 5 The Musical, and Firebrand’s inaugural production of Lizzie. Andra has worked regionally at Actors Theatre of Louisville, A.R.T. in Cambridge, Berkeley Rep, Brooklyn Academy of Music, NYU’s Skirball Center, Olney Theatre Center in Maryland, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Pasadena Playhouse, and others. In Chicago, her work has been seen at Steppenwolf, Goodman, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Theater Wit, The Hypocrites, and dozens of others. Most recently, she music directed Next to Normal at Writers Theatre and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murderat Porchlight Music Theatre. Andra is also adjunct faculty at Columbia College Chicago, where she has taught musical theatre performance since 2008.

Firebrand Theatre’s 2019-20 season sponsor: Michael and Mona Heath of the HeathFund.

Firebrand Theatre the world’s first equity musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering womxn* on and off the stage. Based in the vibrant city of Chicago, Firebrand Theatre’s productions will expand the traditional roles of womxn in musical theatre by reimagining classics, producing unknown gems and commissioning new works. *womxn is used to include trans and non-binary folx. Firebrand is a 501(c)(3) Equity theatre.

Company members: Artistic Director: Harmony France, Associate Artistic Director: Jon Martinez, Grants and Fundraising: Danni Smith, Social Media Director: Amanda Horvath-Adair, Casting Director: Adelina Feldman-Schultz; Advisory Board: Lili-Anne Brown, Brenda Didier, Emjoy Gavino, Amber Mak, Company Members: Becca Brown, Giselle Castro, Sydney Charles, Liz Chidester, Eric Martin, Natalie O'hea, Amelia Jo Parish, Tyler Symone, Andra Velis Simon and JC Widman.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

OPENING: Chicago Premiere of QUEEN OF THE MIST Via Firebrand Theatre at The Den Theatre May 25 – July 6, 2019

ChiIL Live Shows on our radar

Chicago Premiere!
Firebrand Theatre Presents
QUEEN OF THE MIST
Book, Music & Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
Directed by Elizabeth Margolius
Music Direction by Charlotte Rivard-Hoster


May 25 – July 6, 2019 at The Den Theatre

Firebrand Theatre is pleased to present the Chicago premiere of QUEEN OF THE MIST, based on the sensational true story of Anna (Annie) Edson Taylor, the first woman to go over Niagara Falls. Featuring book, music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa (The Wild Party, Marie Christine), direction by Elizabeth Margolius and music direction by Charlotte Rivard-Hoster, QUEEN OF THE MIST will play May 25 – July 6, 2019 at The Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Single tickets are currently available at firebrandtheatre.org

QUEEN OF THE MIST features Barbara E. Robertson as Anna (Annie) Edson Taylor with Maryam Abdi, Neala Barron, Brianna Buckley, Max J. Cervantes, Liz Chidester and Hannah Starr. Understudies/swings include: Liz Bollar, Adelina Feldman-Schultz, Cari Meixner and Steven Romero Shaeffer.

QUEEN OF THE MIST is based on the astounding and outrageous true story of Anna (Annie) Edson Taylor, who in 1901 set out to be the first person to go over the Niagara Falls in a barrel of her own design. Navigating both the treacherous Falls and a fickle public with a ravenous appetite for sensationalism, this unconventional heroine vies for her legacy in a world clamoring with swindling managers, assassins, revolutionaries, moralizing family, anarchists and activists. With a soaring score that incorporates turn of the century themes with LaChiusa’s signature complexity and insight, QUEEN OF THE MIST is the story of a single great fall, and how one woman risked death so that she could live.

Firebrand is the first musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding opportunities on and off the stage.

The production team for QUEEN OF THE MIST includes: Lauren Nichols (scenic design), Brenda Winstead (costume design), Carl Wahlstrom (sound design), Cat Wilson (lighting design), Wendy Huber (props deign), Daren Leonard (assistant director), Rose Hamill (production manager), Josh Prisching (technical director), Giselle Castro (sound operator), JC Widman (stage manager) and Martina Scofano (assistant stage manager).


Location: The Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Dates: Previews: Saturday, May 25 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, May 26 at 3 pm
Press performance: Tuesday, May 28 at 7:30 pm
Regular run: Thursday, May 30 – Saturday, July 6, 2019

Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm
Industry Night: Wednesday, July 3 at 7:30 pm

Tickets: Previews $25. Regular run $55. $20 students/industry rush tickets available at the box office. Single tickets are currently available at firebrandtheatre.org

About The Creative Team
Elizabeth Margolius (Director) is a Chicago-based stage and movement director with a primary focus in developing and directing new and rarely produced musical theatre, operetta and opera. Stage/movement directorial credits include: James and the Giant Peach (Viterbo University, WI), Machinal (Greenhouse Theater Center), The Bridges of Madison County (Peninsula Players, WI), Uncle Philip’s Coat (Greenhouse Theater – Jeff nomination for Best Solo Peformance), Haymarket: The Anarchist’s Songbook (Underscore Theatre – 3 Jeff nominations, including Best New Musical), Sitayana (Gift Theatre’s TEN Festival), The Girl in the Train (Chicago Folks Operetta), Goldstar, Ohio (ATC), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Chicago Shakespeare Theater, asst. director to Barbara Gaines), The Mikado (the Savoyaires), The Last Cyclist (Genesis Theatrical), The Land of Smiles and The Cousin from Nowhere (Chicago Folks Operetta), Opus 1861 (City Lit Theater – 3 Jeff nominations, including Best Adaptation), Violet (Bailiwick Chicago –5 Jeff nominations, including Best Musical and Best Director), Bernarda Alba and Songs for a New World (BoHo Theatre). Elizabeth is an alumna of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in New York, a recipient of a full directorial scholarship at the Wesley Balk Opera-Music Theater Institute in Minneapolis, a respondent and workshop artist for the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival and a finalist for the Charles Abbott Fellowship. She is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of DirectorsLabChicago; a forum for emerging nationally and internationally based stage directors. Elizabeth is a proud member of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).

Charlotte Rivard-Hoster (Music Director) is proud to make her debut with Firebrand! Favorite credits: Legally Blonde, Wizard of Oz (Paramount), Fun Home (Victory Gardens), Marry Me a Little (Porchlight), Urinetown (BoHo), Bat Boy (Griffin), Heathers (Kokandy), Methtacular! (About Face), The Light in The Piazza (Berklee). Charlotte has taught at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, Lake Forest College, Roosevelt, Merit School of Music, and this winter she continues her seventh year with the little musicians at Kellman Elementary through Foundations of Music. With immense gratitude to those I love and lean on, and to those who open doors and leave them open.

Firebrand Theatre’s 2018-19 season sponsor: Michael and Mona Heath of the HeathFund.



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, Emjoy Gavino, Kate Garassino, Amber Mak and Danni Smith; Company Members: Kasey Alfonso, Becca Brown, Sydney Charles, Liz Chidester, Heather Clark, Adelina Feldman-Schultz, Amanda Horvath, Jon Martinez, Eric Martin, Natalie O'hea, Amelia Jo Parish, Tyler Symone and Andra Velis Simon.

Friday, August 31, 2018

OPENING: CAROLINE, OR CHANGE Via Firebrand Theatre at The Den Theatre September 22 – October 28, 2018

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

Firebrand Theatre Announces Casting for
CAROLINE, OR CHANGE
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Book & Lyrics by Tony Kushner
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown
Music Direction by Andra Velis Simon

September 22 – October 28, 2018 at The Den Theatre


Presented in Partnership with TimeLine Theatre Company

Firebrand Theatre, in partnership with TimeLine Theatre Company, is pleased to announces casting for its revival of the Tony Award-nominated Best Musical CAROLINE, OR CHANGE, featuring music by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Violet), book and lyrics by Tony Kushner (Angels in America), direction by Lili-Anne Brown and music direction by Andra Velis Simon.


(left to right) Bre Jacobs, Rashada Dawan and Blair Robertson in a publicity image for Firebrand Theatre and TimeLine Theatre Company's production of CAROLINE, OR CHANGE. Photo by Rob Riddle/Ghost Light Headshots.

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE will feature Rashada Dawan as Caroline with Roberta Burke as Radio 3, Kevin Grubb as Grandpa Gellman, Nicole Michelle Haskins as Dotty, Rosalind Hurwitz as Grandma Gellman, Bre Jacobs as Emmie, Michael Kingston as Mr. Stopnick, Princess Isis Lang as Jackie, Alejandro Medina as Noah, De'Jah Perkins as Radio 1, Blair Roberston as Rose, Jonathan Schwart as Stuart, Lyric Sims as Joe, Sasha Smith as Moon/Washer and Emma Sipora Tyler as Radio 2.

Launching Firebrand’s 2018-19 season, CAROLINE, OR CHANGE will play September 22 – October 28, 2018, at The Den Theatre’s Heath Main Stage, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Tickets now on sale at firebrandtheatre.org. Season subscriptions are currently available. 

Firebrand is the first musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding opportunities on and off the stage.

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE is set in Lake Charles, Louisiana: the end of 1963. America is changing. Caroline Thibodeaux is a mother of four and a maid, working for the southern Jewish Gellman family. Caroline struggles with changes monumental and mundane, and her relationship with the young, grieving boy who lives in the house she cleans. Riveting, moving and awe-inspiring, CAROLINE, OR CHANGE features a virtuosic score by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Violet) and a breathtaking book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner (Angels in America), the music ranges from Motown to Klezmer, the storytelling from political to magical.

The production team for CAROLINE, OR CHANGE includes: Lauren Nichols (scenic design), Noël Huntzinger (costume design), Cat Wilson (lighting design), Victoria Deiorio and Karli Blalock (sound design), Lacie Hexom (props design), Brigitte Ditmars (choreographer), Harmony France (producer), Heather Larkin (production manager), Adelina Feldman-Schultz. (casting director), Joshanna Robinson (run crew, child wrangler), JC Widman (stage manager) and Kirby Gibson (assistant stage manager).


PHOTO CREDIT: The cast of Firebrand Theatre and TimeLine Theatre Company's production of CAROLINE, OR CHANGE includes (top, l to r) Rashada Dawan, Roberta Burke, Kevin Grubb, Nicole Michelle Haskins and Rosalind Hurwitz (middle, l to r) Bre Jacobs, Michael Kingston, Princess Isis Lang, Alejandro Medina, De'Jah Perkins (bottom, l to r) Blair Roberston, Jonathan Schwart, Lyric Sims, Sasha Smith and Emma Sipora Tyler.


Cast (in alphabetical order): Roberta Burke (Radio 3), Rashada Dawan (Caroline), Kevin Grubb (Grandpa Gellman), Nicole Michelle Haskins (Dotty), Rosalind Hurwitz (Grandma Gellman), Bre Jacobs (Emmie), Michael Kingston (Mr. Stopnick), Princess Isis Lang (Jackie), Alejandro Medina (Noah), De'Jah Perkins (Radio 1), Blair Roberston (Rose), Jonathan Schwart (Stuart), Lyric Sims (Joe), Sasha Smith (Moon/Washer) and Emma Sipora Tyler (Radio 2).

Swings: JiGi Fabulous, Kirby Gibson, Tyler Franklin, Ted Kitterman, Micheal Lovette and Corrbette Pasko.

Location: The Den Theatre's Heath Main Stage, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Dates: Previews: Saturday, September 22 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, September 23 at 3 pm

Regular run: Thursday, September 27 – Sunday, October 28, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Sundays at 3 pm
Tickets: Previews $25. Regular run $45. $20 students/industry rush tickets available at the box office. Tickets go on sale Saturday, July 28, 2018 at firebrandtheatre.org. Season subscriptions are currently available at firebrandtheatre.org.

About The Creative Team

Lili-Anne Brown (Director) is a native Chicagoan who works as a director, actor and educator, both locally and regionally. She is the former artistic director of Bailiwick Chicago, where she directed Dessa Rose (Jeff Award), Passing Strange (BTA Award and Jeff nomination for Best Director of a Musical), See What I Wanna See (Steppenwolf Theatre Garage Rep) and the world premiere of Princess Mary Demands Your Attention by Aaron Holland. Other directing credits include Kristiana Rae Colón's Tilikum (world premiere, Sideshow Theatre), Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (American Theatre Company), Ike Holter's The Wolf at the End of the Block (16th Street Theatre), Lottery Day (Goodman Theatre New Stages Festival), Marie Christine (Boho Theatre), Peter and the Starcatcher (Metropolis Performing Arts), The Wiz (Kokandy Productions), Xanadu (American Theatre Company), Jabari Dreams of Freedom by Nambi E. Kelley (world premiere, Chicago Children’s Theatre), American Idiot (Northwestern University); the national tour of Jesus Snatched My Edges; and Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray, Unnecessary Farce, Cabaret, Sweet Charity, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Timber Lake Playhouse. She is a member of SDC, SAG-AFTRA and a graduate of Northwestern University.

Andra Velis Simon (Music Director) is thrilled to be the Resident Music Director for Firebrand, where she music directed Lizzie and 9 to 5 for their inaugural season. Her work as a music director, adapter, arranger, pianist and vocal coach has been seen regionally at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, A.R.T. in Cambridge, Brooklyn Academy of Music, NYU’s Skirball Center, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Pasadena Playhouse, Berkeley Rep and Olney Theatre in Maryland. In Chicago, she has worked with The Goodman Theatre (The Iceman Cometh and Camino Real); The Hypocrites (Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes, American Idiot, Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado and H.M.S. Pinafore); Theater Wit (Mr. Burns and 10 out of 12); Chicago Children’s Theatre (The Hundred Dresses, A Year with Frog and Toad, Goodnight Moon and Last Stop on Market Street), and many others. In addition, Andra has taught musical theatre performance at  Columbia College Chicago since 2008. Upcoming projects include A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder at Porchlight and Next to Normal at Writers Theatre.   

Firebrand Theatre’s 2018-19 season sponsor: Michael and Mona Heath of the HeathFund.

About the Companies




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, Emjoy Gavino, Kate Garassino, Amber Mak, Danni Smith, Company Members: Kasey Alfonso, Sydney Charles, Heather Clark, Adelina Feldman-Schultz, Tyler Franklin, Amanda Horvath, Jon Martinez, Eric Martin, Amelia Jo Parish and Andra Velis-Simon.


TimeLine Theatre Company was founded in April 1997 with a mission to present stories inspired by history that connect with today's social and political issues. To date over 21 seasons, TimeLine has presented 75 productions, including 10 world premieres and 33 Chicago premieres, and launched the Living History Education Program working with Chicago Public Schools. 

TimeLine is led by Artistic Director PJ Powers, Managing Director Elizabeth K. Auman and Board President Eileen LaCario. Company members are Nick Bowling, Janet Ulrich Brooks, Behzad Dabu, Lara Goetsch, Juliet Hart, Mildred Marie Langford, Mechelle Moe, David Parkes, Ron OJ Parson, PJ Powers, Maren Robinson and Benjamin Thiem. More information at timelinetheatre.com.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

SAVE THE DATES: Firebrand Partners With TimeLine Theatre Company To Launch 2018-19 Season

Firebrand Theatre Announces 2018-19 Season: 

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Book & Lyrics by Tony Kushner
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown
Featuring Rashada Dawan
Presented in Partnership with TimeLine Theatre Company

Chicago Premiere!
QUEEN OF THE MIST
Book, Music & Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
Directed by Elizabeth Margolius


Firebrand Theatre, the first musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding opportunities on and off the stage, is pleased to announce its second season, featuring two fully-produced musicals, including a Chicago premiere. 

This fall, Firebrand partners with TimeLine Theatre Company for a revival of the Tony Award-nominated Best Musical CAROLINE, OR CHANGE, featuring music by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Violet), book and lyrics by Tony Kushner (Angels in America) and direction by Lili-Anne Brown. Rashada Dawan stars in the title role as Caroline.


 Pictured: Rashada Dawan

The season concludes in spring 2019 with the Chicago premiere of QUEEN OF THE MIST, featuring book, music and lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa (The Wild Party, Marie Christine) and direction by Elizabeth Margolius.

Firebrand’s 2017-18 Season will be presented at its resident home, The Den Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Season subscriptions are currently available at firebrandtheatre.org.

Firebrand Theatre’s current season continues with 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL, playing through May 20, 2018 at the Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre. Tickets are available at firebrandtheatre.org.

Firebrand Theatre’s 2018-19 Season:

September 2018
CAROLINE, OR CHANGE – Presented in partnership with TimeLine Theatre Company
Music by Jeanine Tesori
Book and Lyrics by Tony Kushner
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown
Featuring Rashada Dawan as Caroline 
The Den Theatre’s Heath Main Stage, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

CAROLINE, OR CHANGE is set in Lake Charles, Louisiana: the end of 1963. America is changing. Caroline Thibodeaux is a mother of four and a maid, working for the southern Jewish Gellman family. Caroline struggles with changes monumental and mundane, and her relationship with the young, grieving boy who lives in the house she cleans. Riveting, moving and awe-inspiring, CAROLINE, OR CHANGE features a virtuosic score by Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home, Violet) and a breathtaking book and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner (Angels in America), the music ranges from Motown to Klezmer, the storytelling from political to magical.

May 2019
QUEEN OF THE MIST
Book, Music and Lyrics by Michael John LaChiusa
Directed by Elizabeth Margolius
at The Den Theatre’s Janet Bookspan Theatre, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago

QUEEN OF THE MIST is based on the astounding and outrageous true story of Anna Edson Taylor, who in 1901 set out to be the first woman to shoot Niagara Falls in a barrel of her own design. Navigating both the treacherous Falls and a fickle public with a ravenous appetite for sensationalism, this unconventional heroine vies for her legacy in a world clamoring with swindling managers, assassins, revolutionaries, moralizing family, anarchists and activists. With a soaring score that incorporates turn of the century themes with LaChiusa’s signature complexity and insight, QUEEN OF THE MIST is the story of a single great fall, and how one woman risked death so that she could live.

About the Artists
Lili-Anne Brown (Director – Caroline, Or Change) is a native Chicagoan, who works as a director, actor and educator, both locally and regionally. She is the former artistic director of Bailiwick Chicago, where she directed Dessa Rose (Jeff Award), Passing Strange (BTA Award and Jeff nomination for Best Director of a Musical), See What I Wanna See (Steppenwolf Theatre Garage Rep) and the world premiere of Princess Mary Demands Your Attention by Aaron Holland. Other directing credits include Ike Holter's The Wolf at the End of the Block (16th Street Theatre), Lottery Day (Goodman Theatre New Stages Festival), Marie Christine (BoHo Theatre), Peter and the Starcatcher (Metropolis Performing Arts), The Wiz (Kokandy Productions), Xanadu (American Theatre Company), Jabari Dreams of Freedom by Nambi E. Kelley (world premiere, Chicago Children’s Theatre), American Idiot (Northwestern University); the national tour of Jesus Snatched My Edges; and Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray, Unnecessary Farce, Cabaret, Sweet Charity, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Timber Lake Playhouse. She is a member of SDC, SAG-AFTRA, and a graduate of Northwestern University.

Rashada Dawan’s (Caroline – Caroline, Or Change) previous works include Dreamgirls (Charles Winter Wood Theatre), Once On This Island (Yellow Alligator), Dynamite Divas (Black Ensemble Theatre), Black White Love Play (Black Ensemble Theatre), Nutcracker (Lincolnshire Marriott), Madagascar (Lincolnshire Marriott), Elf (Paramount Theatre), Aida (Bailiwick Chicago), Winner of Our Discontent (Second City), A Red Line Runs Through It (Second City). National productions include: Disney’s The Lion King (Las Vegas Company and Gazelle Tour). TV/Commercial credits include Employee Woman (ComEd). www.RashadaDawan.com

Elizabeth Margolius (Director – Queen of the Mist) is a Chicago-based stage and movement director with a primary focus in developing and directing new and rarely produced musical theatre, operetta and opera. Stage/movement directorial credits include: James and the Giant Peach (Viterbo University, WI), Machinal (Greenhouse Theater Center), The Bridges of Madison County (Peninsula Players, WI), Uncle Philip’s Coat (Greenhouse Theater – Jeff nomination for Best Solo Performance), Haymarket: The Anarchist’s Songbook (Underscore Theatre – 3 Jeff nominations, including Best New Musical), Sitayana (Gift Theatre’s TEN Festival), The Girl in the Train (Chicago Folks Operetta), Goldstar, Ohio (ATC), The Merry Wives of Windsor (Chicago Shakespeare Theater, asst. director to Barbara Gaines), The Mikado (the Savoyaires), The Last Cyclist (Genesis Theatrical), The Land of Smiles and The Cousin from Nowhere (Chicago Folks Operetta), Opus 1861 (City Lit Theater – 3 Jeff nominations, including Best Adaptation), Violet (Bailiwick Chicago –5 Jeff nominations, including Best Musical and Best Director), Bernarda Alba and Songs for a New World (BoHo Theatre). Elizabeth is an alumna of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in New York, a recipient of a full directorial scholarship at the Wesley Balk Opera-Music Theater Institute in Minneapolis, a respondent and workshop artist for the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival and a finalist for the Charles Abbott Fellowship. She is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus of DirectorsLabChicago; a forum for emerging nationally and internationally based stage directors. Elizabeth is a proud member of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC).



About the Companies
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, Emjoy Gavino, Kate Garassino, 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.

TimeLine Theatre Company was founded in April 1997 with a mission to present stories inspired by history that connect with today's social and political issues. To date over 21 seasons, TimeLine has presented 75 productions, including 10 world premieres and 33 Chicago premieres, and launched the Living History Education Program working with Chicago Public Schools. TimeLine is led by Artistic Director PJ Powers, Managing Director Elizabeth K. Auman and Board President Eileen LaCario. Company members are Nick Bowling, Janet Ulrich Brooks, Behzad Dabu, Lara Goetsch, Juliet Hart, Mildred Marie Langford, Mechelle Moe, David Parkes, Ron OJ Parson, PJ Powers, Maren Robinson and Benjamin Thiem. More information at timelinetheatre.com.

Lili-Anne Brown will direct Firebrand Theatre’s production of CAROLINE, OR CHANGE
Rashada Dawan will star as Caroline in Firebrand Theatre’s production of CAROLINE, OR CHANGE

Elizabeth Margolius will direct Firebrand Theatre’s Chicago premiere of QUEEN OF THE MIST.

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
9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL
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.

Review:
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 firebrandtheatre.org

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.

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

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 firebrandtheatre.org.

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.


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

OPENING: 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL Via Firebrand Theatre At The Den Theatre 4/7/18-5/20/18

Chi IL Live Shows On Our Radar:

 Firebrand Theatre Presents
9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL
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



April 7 – May 20, 2018 at The Den Theatre

I was so blown away by Firebrand Theatre's inaugural productionLIZZIE, that I can't wait to see their take on 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL. ChiIL Live Shows will be ChiILin' at the press opening on April 10th, with one of Chi, IL's newest companies and the first musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding opportunities on and off the stage. Check back soon for my full review.

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 firebrandtheatre.org


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).

PRODUCTION DETAILS:

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: Previews $25. Regular run $45. Students $20. Tickets are currently available at firebrandtheatre.org.

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.

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.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

REVIEW: Blistering Lizzie Burns With Intensity as Firebrand's Inaugural Production at The Den Theatre Through 12/17/17

Chi, IL LIVE Shows On Our Radar: 

Firebrand Theatre Presents 
the Chicago Premiere of
LIZZIE
Through December 17, 2017 at The Den Theatre

All Production Photos by Marisa KM


Review:
Hell hath no fury like a woman sexually abused and about to lose her inheritance to a wicked stepmother. 

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we're loving Lizzie so hard right now, after an epic opening night. With the current public outcry of long silenced victims taking down powerful men who have assaulted and harassed them, this 1892 period piece is terrifically timely. Lizzie has killer punk and metal tunes, along with melodic ballads, an all femme band on stage, and vocals to die for. This powerful production has plenty of mystery, gore, a lesbian love interest, trial lying, intrigue, vindication, revenge, and a scorching score. Firebrand is the scream into the void, and we're so excited they're here.

Liz Chidester as Lizzie, Leah Davis as Bridget, Jacquelyne Jones as Alice and Camille Robinson as Emma are all fantastic, and it's especially enjoyable to see Lizzie evolve from cowering victim to exonerated lady. The set design is sparse but ingenious, with a solidly scary looking wooden throne of a chair serving as many locals. We also loved the symbolism of the entrapped lights in a cluster of hanging bird cages that flickered and flared, paralleling Lizzies love for the pigeons in the barn who met a grizzly end at the hands of her abusive undertaker father, and her own desire to fly free. The costume design is fabulous too, interspersing and ultimately merging late 1800's period piece dresses with corseted, black leather rock looks. Lighting and sound are also quite impressive for a storefront theatre.



Do note, there IS a splash zone in the front row. We had a lively debate on the way home, about just how Firebrand created the faux melon massacre and we're still baffled. Just know it's messy and effective.

Lizzie is a cathartic cacophony of creative energy, colliding art forms, and a magnificent merging of past and present. We highly recommend catching Lizzy and we're eagerly anticipating more from Firebrand. With their first offering, they have certainly lived up to their name.





Firebrand Theatre, the first musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding opportunities on and off the stage, is pleased to present its inaugural production, the Chicago premiere of LIZZIE, the rock musical based on the true-life story of accused axe-murderess Lizzie Borden. LIZZIE will play November 11 – December 17, 2017 at The Den Theatre's Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Single tickets for LIZZIE and season subscriptions (including 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL) are currently available at firebrandtheatre.org. 

Directed by Victoria Bussert with music direction by Julia A. Miller and Andra Velis Simon and choreography by Janet Louer, LIZZIE features music by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt, lyrics by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner, book by Tim Maner, additional music by Tim Maner, additional lyrics by Alan Stevens Hewitt, based on an original concept by Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner with orchestrations by Alan Stevens Hewitt. 

LIZZIE features Liz Chidester as Lizzie, Leah Davis as Bridget, Jacquelyne Jones as Alice and Camille Robinson as Emma. The late night cast/understudies, who will appear in four 11 pm performances, include Kyrie Anderson as Lizzie, Tatiana Bustamante as Bridget, Elle Walker as Alice and Dakota Hughes as Emma.



"Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, gave her father forty-one." So goes the nursery rhyme describing the crime of the century that took the nation by storm when Lizzie Borden murdered her parents with an axe in 1892. Or did she? LIZZIE is a musical that reimagines that bloody legend with four women fronting a female rock band. LIZZIE is American mythology set to a blistering rock score with rage, sex, betrayal and bloody murder. 

Comments Artistic Director Harmony France, “We knew pretty early on that we wanted Lizzie to open our season. It fits our mission perfectly. It's one of the few musicals that feature all women. The characters are flawed and complicated in a way that women don't normally get to portray in musical theatre. There is an unapologetic blistering rock score that will be played by our all femme band. It's sexy and scary and vulnerable and there's a splash zone. The alleged axe-murderess, Lizzie Borden, has captured our imagination for centuries. She is a fascinating historical figure who lived a very unconventional life and she is one of the few women in America responsible for a ‘crime of the century.’ At Firebrand, we are committed to illuminating women's stories whether they're good, bad or ugly – and Lizzie is definitely all of the above.”

The production team for LIZZIE includes: Eleanor Kahn (scenic design), Charlotte M. Yetman (costume design), Maya Michele Fein (lighting design), Victoria Deiorio (sound design), Jon Martinez (assistant director), Danielle Stack (production manager) and Jean E. Compton (stage manager).

Cast: Liz Chidester (Lizzie), Leah Davis (Bridget), Jacquelyne Jones (Alice) and Camille Robinson (Emma).
Late Night Cast/Understudies: Kyrie Anderson (Lizzie) Tatiana Bustamante (Bridget) Dakota Hughes (Emma) and Elle Walker (Alice). 

Location: The Den Theatre's Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave.



Dates: 
Regular run: Thursday, November 16 – Sunday, December 17, 2017
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 3 pm. Please note: there will not be a performance on Thursday, November 23 (Thanksgiving Day).

Late Night Performances (featuring understudies): Friday, December 1 at 11 pm, Saturday, December 2 at 11 pm, Friday, December 8 at 11 pm and Saturday, December 9 at 11 pm.

Open Captioned Performances (by Molly Brennan): Sunday, November 26 at 3 pm and Sunday, December 3 at 3 pm

Tickets: Previews $25. Regular run $45. Late night shows $30. Students $20. Single tickets and season subscriptions are currently available at firebrandtheatre.org.

About The Creative Team
Victoria Bussert (Director) balances the professional and academic worlds working as an award-winning freelance director while serving as Director of Music Theatre for Baldwin Wallace University.  Her work has been seen at the Manhattan Theatre Club, Goodspeed Opera, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Dallas Theatre Center, Cincinnati Playhouse, Portland Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, Dobama Theatre, Marriott Lincolnshire Theatre, Pegasus Players, Beck Center for the Arts, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, among others.  Victoria serves as Resident Director for Cleveland's Great Lakes Theatre and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.  She has directed seven national tours including Into The Woods, Once On This Island and The Who’s Tommy. Her international directing credits include The Adventures of Friar Tuck in Russia, the Danish premieres of Avenue Q and [title of show], as well as the European premiere of Lizzie for Fredericia Theatre which moves to London in February 2017. Victoria received a BA in Theatre and Dance from Barat College and an MFA in Directing from Northwestern University.

Julia A. Miller (Music Director) performs as a guitarist with the electroacoustic trio Auris, with Gimlet Eye, and as a frequent soloist and collaborator in experimental and avant garde chamber music. Auris’s current CD has been released on Artco Records (2009). Julia completed the performance half of a double Master of Music in Classical Guitar Performance at Northwestern University, and served as the Jazz, Folk and Contemporary Guitar Department Chair at the Music Institute of Chicago, where she was also a Suzuki Guitar specialist. As a composer, Julia is active with the Chicago Composer’s Consortium and New Music Chicago, and has a CD of acoustic chamber music on the Southport Composer’s label. Julia’s music has been performed by artists including guitarist Fareed Haque, piano trio The Lincoln Trio, guitar and mandolin duo Ahlert & Schwab, and sopranos Toni Arnold and Julia Bentley, and has been featured at such festivals and venues as the Aspen Music Festival, May In Miami, the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Depaul University, Northwestern University, and Oberlin University, as well as rock clubs, cabarets, bars and alternative spaces internationally. Julia has received awards and fellowships from the Chicago Tribune Foundation, the New York Art Ensemble, the United Arts Council, the American Composer’s Forum, and Meet the Composer.  Julia has been a member of the composition faculty at the Music Institute of Chicago and has also served as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Sound and Liberal Arts, at The School of the Art Institute, 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: 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.

Janet Louer (Choreographer) has been responsible for launching many careers’ over the past 35 years that she has worked in the industry. Some of them are now Artistic Directors, Directors, Agents, Casting directors in Chicago, New York, and all over the country. Janet was the former manager of Tony Award Winner Heather Headley. Janet created the Musical Theatre Division at ATC and is currently the Artistic Director/Creator for Another Door theatre Project; The Ensemble Conservatory, a comprehensive training/performance opportunity for young actors. Janet is the Development Director of a new approach to acting called Acting;out of and through the Human Condition. National Tours: (all under direction of Victoria Bussert) BUDDY (Jeff Award for choreography), Assassins, The Secret Garden, Once On This Island, Barnum, Into The Woods and Anyone Can Whistle. Regional: The Frogs, You’re Gonna Love Tomorrow, Pacific Overtures, Company, Goblin Market, Follies, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Little Shop of Horrors, A Little Night Music and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.



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, Managing Director: Kimberly Lawson, Advisory Board: Lili-Anne Brown, Brenda Didier, Kate Garassino, Emjoy Gavino, Amber Mak, Danni Smith, Company Members: Kasey Alfonso, Sydney Charles, Adelina Feldman-Schultz, Carly Glenn, Amanda Horvath, Jon Martinez, Eric Martin, Amelia Jo Parrish and Andra Velis-Simon.

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