About Firebrand Theatre

Our Mission

We are a musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women by expanding their opportunities on and off the stage.


The world we live in now

“Audiences for musical theater are predominantly women, yet shows are frequently created and produced by men.

Onstage, female characters…lack the complexity of their male counterparts. Offstage, women are under-represented among writers, directors, composers and choreographers. While other areas of the arts rally behind gender equality, musical theatre demonstrates a disregard for women and an authentic female voice.”

– Excerpt from Her turn on stage: The role of women in Musical Theatre


the world we want to live in

There is a world that exists in the minds of women; a world where women’s stories and experiences are valued as highly as a man’s.

In this world we no longer need to call ourselves a feminist musical theatre company, because the word “feminist” is considered archaic and unnecessary.

Until this world is fully realized, we will fight to employ and empower women on and off the stage by being vigilant in our programming, casting, and process.


France-HarmonyHarmony France

Artistic Director/ FOUNDER

Harmony France is a founder and the artistic director of Firebrand Theatre, founding Artistic Director of Blue Moon Studio Theater, Casting Director at Bailiwick Chicago, and a teaching artist at Actor’s Training Center. 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 Broadway World Award. Harmony has worked with Paramount Theatre, Peninsula Players, Theatre at the Center, Bailiwick Chicago, Porchlight Music Theatre, Bohemian Theatre Ensemble, Profiles Theatre, Windy City Playhouse, The New Colony, Timber Lake Playhouse, Route 66, and City Lit Theatre. She studied opera at Brenau University and acting at Columbia College.

“When we had the idea to start Firebrand Theatre, I did an online search for musical theatre companies with like-minded missions. I found nothing. That brought it home to me how crucial it is that we launch this company. There is a void in our industry; There are more actresses than actors in this business, yet there are fewer roles for women. There are statistically more women than men in our audiences — And yet, most musicals are directed by men, cast with mostly men, with stories that are about men. Not only do we feel a moral obligation to illuminate female artists in roles that empower them, but it also makes sense for our business to tailor to our largest demographic.”

France-HarmonyKimberly Lawson

Managing Director

Kimberly Lawson is thrilled to be joining the team of Firebrand Theatre. Originally from St. Louis, MO, Kimberly has worked with over 20 theaters in the Chicago area as a theater administrator and performer. Currently the Manager of Audience Services of Lookingglass Theatre, she previously held the position of Director of Audience and Venue Services at Victory Gardens Theater. As performer, she was most recently seen in Andre DeShields’ Confessions of a P.I.M.P at Victory Gardens Theater. Kimberly is also an active cabaret singer, and is a member of Chicago Cabaret Professionals. Her latest show, WOZ, was nominated for a BroadwayWorld Chicago award after playing sold out performances at Davenport’s Piano Bar, Victory Gardens and Stage 773. She will be returning to the Davenport’s stage in August with her latest show, She Plays the Violin.

The Firebrand Family

Kasey Alfonso

Artistic Associate

Kasey Alfonso

Artistic Associate

Kasey, originally from Los Angeles, is now a Chicago-based performer and choreographer. She has worked all over Chicago, including Lookingglass Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, The Court Theatre, American Theatre Company, and Chicago Children’s Theatre. As a choreographer, her work has been featured with The Inconvenience (The Fly Honey Show), Quest Theatre Ensemble (The Fantasticks), and Inappropriate Theatre Company. She also teaches Dance at the Chicago Academy for the Arts.

Sydney Charles

Artistic Associate

Sydney Charles

Artistic Associate

Selected Theatre credits include Dorothy in The Wiz at Kokandy Productions, Zora in the world premiere of Prowess at Jackalope Theatre, and the title role in Dessa Rose at Bailiwick Chicago. She is currently playing the part of Minnie in Definition Theatre Company's production of Octoroon. Upcoming projects include Lottery Day at Goodman Theatre and A Swell in the Ground at the Gift Theatre. Sydney is grateful to God for every opportunity given and to every person who supports her journey. Sydney is represented by Stewart Talent.

Adelina Feldman-Schultz

Casting Director

Adelina Feldman-Schultz

Casting Director

Adelina Feldman-Schultz is an actor, arts administrator, and casting professional based out of Chicago, IL.  After a stint as a Casting Assistant with O’Connor Casting, Adelina has returned to performing and casting for Chicago Theatre. As an artist and arts administrator, she is dedicated to improving intersectionality, accessibility, and outreach in all aspects of the craft. Proud BFA Graduate of Western Michigan University. Regional Theatre: Jenny Lind in Barnum (Old Creamery Theatre Co.); Philia in A Funny Thing…Forum (Maples Rep. Theatre); Rachel/Roscoe Crabbe in One Man, Two Guvnors (Southern Colorado Repertory Theatre); Clarice in The Liar (SCRT); Goldie in Two by Two (Lancaster Opera House); Maria in The Sound of Music (Bower City Theatre Co.); Diwata in Speech & Debate (Farmers Alley Theatre.)

“The arts are still dominated by stories written by and for straight white men.  I’m bored with them. (The stories, and the straight white men.)”

Carly Glenn

Artistic Associate

Carly Glenn

Artistic Associate

Carly Glenn is thrilled to be apart of the Firebrand Team! Carly moved to Chicago back in July 2015 after graduating with a BFA in musical theatre from The Hartt School, with dreams of becoming a professional improviser and sketch comedy writer. Upon arriving, Carly's award winning film, Bark Mitzvah, which she wrote and produced, was successfully making its way through the film festival circuit. Her film has taken home many awards for the best comedic screenplay from top festivals around the world, including London, Canada, California, and NYC. Carly continues to write and perform around Chicago, specifically with Second City, Improv Olympic, and the MCL Chicago. This past summer she had the pleasure of working on the set of, When Jeff Tried To Save The World, starring Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite, Blades of Glory), Jim O'Heir (Parks and Recreation), and Candi Milo (Bark Mitzvah, Dexter's Laboratory), as a production assistant. She worked closely with the production team as well as the talent. Other than producing, writing and improvising, Carly continues to do what she loves most; sing.

Amanda Horvath

Social Media Manager

Amanda Horvath

Social Media Manager

Amanda Horvath is a Chicagoland-native actress and singer, thrilled to be on board with the world’s first feminist equity musical theatre company working Social Media!  She's a recent Jeff Award-winner for her performance of Sara in the Chicago premiere of the rock musical Murder Ballad, with Bailiwick Chicago. Chicago credits include Tonya Harding in Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera (Underscore Theatre), Far From Heaven (Porchlight Music Theatre), Follies (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre), A Little Night Music (Writers Theatre), The Wild Party (Bailiwick Chicago), Hollywood’s Greatest Song HitsFiddler on the RoofMerry Widow, & South Pacific (Light Opera Works), Smokey Joe’s Café (Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre), and Ragtime (Big Noise Theatre) for which she won the BroadwayWorld Chicago Award for Best Actress in her portrayal of Mother. She spent two summers on Cape Cod with the summer-stock College Light Opera Company where roles included Eva Peron (Evita), Lilli Vanessi (Kiss Me, Kate), Aldonza (Man of La Mancha), and Lalume (Kismet). When not in a theatre she performs with the Midwest’s only touring ABBA Tribute Band as Agnetha (aka the blonde one). Amanda began her music training at College of DuPage, and graduated from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University (BM Voice Performance) where she is an admission counselor by day!

"One reason I was eager to be a part of Firebrand is that women are so much more than the few archetypes we're constantly painted as. We women have been fighting to tell our own stories through mens' voices, words, stories, and direction for long enough."

Eric Martin/ CO-FOUNDER

Web & Graphic Design/ FOUNDER

Eric Martin/ CO-FOUNDER

Web & Graphic Design/ FOUNDER

Jon Martinez

Company Manager

Jon Martinez

Company Manager

A Chicago native and hailing from Bridgeport. Firebrand credits include No One Here But us Witches: The Election Year (Director), Pink Ladies! (Co-creator/Co-Director). He served as Bailiwick Chicago's Director of Artistic Development for 3 years. Jon mainly directs and choreographs in Chicago and regionally, credits include: Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Pride Films & Plays); Rock of Ages (Timberlake Playhouse); Tonya & Nancy The Rock Opera (Chicago Premiere), Rocky Horror Picture Show Live!, Haymarket (World Premiere) (Underscore Theatre); 3C (Chicago Premiere) (A Red Orchid Theater); We’re Gonna Die by Young Jean Lee (Chicago Premiere) (Haven Theater); Jenna Roxy and the Church of Modern Love (Chicago Musical Theater Festival/With a Machete Productions). He also has served as assistant/associate director/choreographer on Xanadu (American Theater Company); Carrie, Murder Ballad (Bailiwick Chicago); Story of a Story: The Untold Story (World Premiere) (Underscore Theater); Faustus The Musical (New York Film Academy - Reading). Aside from working in theater, Jon works heavily in the dance world. Teaching at various studios. His first ballet, Le Apache, premiered in 2016 at The Harris Theater in Chicago. He also works with International Dance Challenge and Dance America/Dance Olympus competitions regionally.

"I was raised by three of the strongest women I know, my mother, grandmother, and aunt. Their stories, voices, and lessons carry over into my work. Uplifting women in the theater is not a choice for me, it is a necessity, it is a must. Without hearing the stories of women from the voices of women, we would be nothing."

Amelia Jo Parish

Literary Manager

Amelia Jo Parish

Literary Manager

Amelia Jo Parish is honored to be fighting the patriarchy alongside the Firebrand team! Amelia studied Musical Theatre for two years at the Webster Conservatory, before transferring to Drury University where she is currently pursuing a degree in History and Gender Studies. An actress and teaching artist based out of NYC, she has performed with such theaters as The Muny, The Paramount, and The Goodspeed Opera House. In her spare time she enjoys caffeinating, learning new things (currently that includes developing her meditation and yo-yo-ing skills--occasionally at the same time!), and consulting with her dog/life coach, Fred.

 

"It is important to empower women, (and every person that society continues to other) through Theatre because perhaps in doing so, we can encourage people to do the same in their every day lives, on and off the stage. I am a Firebrand because everyone deserves to be celebrated."

Andra Velis Simon

Resident Music Director

Andra Velis Simon

Resident Music Director

Andra Velis Simon 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 the Potatoes, American Idiot, Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, HMS Pinafore), Windy City Playhouse, and many others. Andra served as an adjunct faculty member and the staff Musical Director for the Theatre Department from 2008-2016 at Columbia College Chicago.

Mentors/ Advisors/ Heroines

Lili-Anne Brown

Artistic Advisor

Lili-Anne Brown

Artistic Advisor

LILI-ANNE BROWN is a native Chicagoan director and actor with local, regional and national credits.  She is the former Artistic Director of Bailiwick Chicago, where she directed the Chicago premiere of the Ahrens and Flaherty musical Dessa Rose, for which she was awarded the Jeff Award for Direction of a Musical.  Also at Bailiwick, she directed the world premiere of Princess Mary Demands Your Attention by Aaron Holland; Michael John LaChiusa's See What I Wanna See, part of Steppenwolf Theatre's Garage Rep, and the critically acclaimed Chicago premiere of Passing Strange (for which she was nominated for a Jeff Award and awarded a Black Theatre Alliance Award). Other directing credits include: The Wiz at Kokandy Productions; Xanadu at American Theatre Company; the world premiere of Jabari Dreams of Freedom by Nambi Kelley at Chicago Children's Theatre; American Idiot at Northwestern University; Hearts of Darkness and On the Boards at Roosevelt University; and HairsprayUnnecessary Farce, CabaretSweet Charity, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee; and Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Timber Lake Playhouse, where she is an Artistic Associate. Offstage, Lili-Anne spent five years working as a talent agent in Chicago. She previously headed casting at Bailiwick Chicago and Bohemian Theatre Ensemble and has done freelance casting for several other theatres.

Onstage, favorite roles include originating the role of Tia in the world premiere of hit play A Twist of Water by Caitlin Parrish, with Route 66 Theatre Co, which she reprised in its successful Off-Broadway run; and Joanne in RENT at American Theatre Company, directed by David Cromer.  She has also performed at Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Victory Gardens Theatre, Writers’ Theatre, Next Theatre, Ravinia Festival, ShawChicago, Drury Lane Oakbrook & Water Tower, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Theatre at the Center, Peninsula Players, and many more.  She is a local cabaret artist and a member of Chicago Cabaret Professionals; her solo shows Brown & Blue and Same Fool Twice debuted successfully at Davenport’s Cabaret.  She has performed with The Second City, understudying the etc. Stage, appearing in Chicago Live! at the Chicago Theater, and performing in the shows The Second City Guide to the Opera at Lyric OperaA Girl's Guide to Washington Politics at Woolly Mammoth Theatre in DC and Charmed and Dangerous at CenterStage in Baltimore.  She is the creator and co-author of Blacktacular!, a musical sketch comedy.  Television credits include ABC’s Betrayal, USA's Sirens, and A&E Network's The Beast with Patrick Swayze, as Demarca, “the gangsta queen of the South Side”.   Lili-Anne is an Artistic/Technical Team member of the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee; a Northwestern University graduate (Performance Studies); and a member of Actors’ Equity Association, SAG/AFTRA, and associate of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

Brenda Didier

Artistic Advisor

Brenda Didier

Artistic Advisor

Ms. Didier is a multiple Jeff Award recipient in both direction and choreography, and the recipient of After Dark Awards, BroadwayWorld awards, and the National Youth Theatre award. She is the proud owner and Artistic Director of the Lincolnshire Academy of Dance, celebrating its 19th season. Other credits include work at the Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, Second City, Theatre at the Center, BoHo, Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, Stage Left, Porchlight Music Theatre, Six Flags Great America, Busch Gardens Virginia, Cirque Shanghai at Navy Pier, T-Mobile’s national commercial “Home for the Holidays”, The Kenny Rogers Christmas Tour and the University of Illinois, University of Wisconsin and Carthage College. Thank you for supporting live theatre! Thank you to Walter, Eugene, Kristi, Andrew and this incredible design team, band and cast for the collaboration! Love to Mike and Mom always!

Kate Garassino

Operations Advisor

Kate Garassino

Operations Advisor

Emjoy Gavino

Artistic Advisor

Emjoy Gavino

Artistic Advisor

EMJOY GAVINO has worked with The House Theater of Chicago, The Hypocrites, Court Theatre, Second City, Northlight Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Victory Gardens, Remy Bumppo, Broadway Playhouse, Lookingglass, Goodman Theatre. You can see her on the West Coast later this year in Iphegnia in Aulis at The Getty. Emjoy is the casting director at Gift Theatre, a teaching artist with Barrel of Monkeys,  a community member with The Hypocrites and is the founder and producer of The Chicago Inclusion Project.

Amber Mak

Artistic Advisor

Amber Mak

Artistic Advisor

Amber is a Chicago-based director & choreographer, whose recent credits include directing the critically acclaimed Paramount production of Hairspray.  Her extensive musical theater background includes work on an array of hit shows both on Broadway — as well as in Chicago region.  Founding artistic director of the FWD Theatre Project, she recently worked with Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil (Les Miserables) on their concert reading and English premiere of La Révolution Française.  As a performer, she’s been on stage in over 40 shows nationally. Favorites include Cats, Cabaret, West Side Story, Crazy For You, Thoroughly Modern Millie and more! A graduate of Northwestern Univ. — with a degree in Dance and Communication Studies — Amber has taught dance at the National High School Institute for the past 15 years, as well as guest teaching at conventions, Lou Conte’s & Intrigue. She grew up as a competitive figure skater.

Danni Smith/ CO-FOUNDER

Artistic Advisor/FOUNDER

Danni Smith/ CO-FOUNDER

Artistic Advisor/FOUNDER

Danni Smith is co-founder of Firebrand Theatre and currently serves on the artistic advisory board. With Firebrand she directed "P!nk: Sung By Her" and co-produced many concert fundraisers. Danni is a proud graduate of Ball State University and has called Chicago home for over a decade. As an actor she's worked across Chicagoland at numerous companies including Paramount Theatre, Marriott Theatre, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Victory Gardens, American Theater Company, Chicago Children's Theatre, Porchlight, Theo Ubique, Bailiwick Chicago, BoHo, Hell in a Handbag, Waltzing Mechanics, Lakeside Shakespeare, and Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Danni has been honored with four Jeff Awards and is represented by Gray Talent.