About Firebrand Theatre

Our Mission

We are the world’s first equity musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women on and off the stage. Based in the vibrant city of Chicago, Firebrand Theatre’s productions will expand the traditional roles of women in musical theatre by reimagining classics, producing unknown gems and commissioning new works.


The Firebrands

Lili-Anne Brown

Firebrand Company

Lili-Anne Brown

Firebrand Company

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.

Giselle Castro

Firebrand Company

Giselle Castro

Firebrand Company

Max Cervantes

Director of Development

Max Cervantes

Director of Development

Sydney Charles

Firebrand Company

Sydney Charles

Firebrand Company

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.

Liz Chidester

Firebrand Company

Liz Chidester

Firebrand Company

LIZ CHIDESTER is beyond honored to work with Firebrand Theatre again as a Firebrand Company Member! Chicago theatre credits: LIZZIE (Firebrand Theatre), BUDDY: THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY (American Blues Theatre, Best Mid-Sized Musical and Best Ensemble - Equity Jeff Awards 2018), FREDERICK(Chicago Children's Theatre), HIGH FIDELITY (Refuge Theatre Project, Best Musical - Non-Equity Jeff Awards 2017) TABLE TOP TRAGEDIES (Cabinet of Curiosity), BIG RIVER and PUMP BOYS AND THE DINETTES (Theatre at the Center), RING OF FIRE (Mercury Theater Chicago), and STUPID F**ING BIRD (Sideshow Theatre Company). Her original albums with her band LIZ AND THE LOVELIES include My Way/Your Way (2018 - Single), Progress into Simplicity (2017 – Best Roots EP, Independent Music Awards 2018), Otter Hill EP (2015), and People Pumping Pedals (2014 - NewSong Songwriter Competition Finalist 2014). She is a proud union teaching artist of the Old Town School of Folk Music, and is represented by Shirley Hamilton Inc. www.lizandthelovelies.com/acting

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! Love to Mike and Mom always!

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.)”

Harmony France

Producing Artistic Director/ FOUNDER

Harmony France

Producing Artistic Director/ FOUNDER

Emjoy Gavino

Artistic Advisor

Emjoy Gavino

Artistic Advisor

Emjoy Gavino has been a casting director for American Theatre Company, the Hypocrites, Theatre on the Lake, Victory Gardens Theatre and The Gift Theatre where she is also an associate artistic director. Chicago Acting Credits include Animal Farm, You Got Older, The Drunken City (Steppenwolf Theatre) Do You Feel Anger (A Red Orchid); Kentucky (The Gift); Vietgone (Writers); Bull in a China Shop (AboutFace); You on the Moors Now (The Hypocrites); Realish Housewives (Second City); Failure: A Love Story (Victory Gardens); Electra (Court); Working (Broadway Playhouse); Act(s) of God (Lookingglass); …Neo-Futurist Christmas Carol (The Neo-Futurists). Regional acting Credits: Repertory Actors Theatre, ACT, Village Theatre,Court Theatre at The Getty Villa and Studio Theatre.  Upcoming: A Christmas Carol (The Guthrie Theatre) Television: The Exorcist, Mob Doctor, Chicago Fire/Med. Emjoy is a 3Arts Make a Wave grantee, a 2020 3Arts awardee,  and the founder of The Chicago Inclusion Project.

Amanda Horvath

Social Media Director

Amanda Horvath

Social Media Director

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."

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.

Eric Martin

Web & Graphic Design/ FOUNDER

Eric Martin

Web & Graphic Design/ FOUNDER

Jon Martinez

Firebrand Company

Jon Martinez

Firebrand Company

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."

Lisa Portes

Artistic Advisor

Lisa Portes

Artistic Advisor

Lisa Portes is an award-winning Chicago-based director, educator, leader and advocate whose aim is to define and promote a new American theatre that is driven aesthetically and politically by the world we are becoming rather than the world we’ve been. She is a co-founder of the Latinx Theatre Commons and serves on the board of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the executive board of  the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) and on the Director's Circle of The Drama League.  Predominantly a director of contemporary plays and musicals, her work has been seen in Chicago at Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, Northlight, Timeline, American Blues, Silk Road Rising, Teatro Vista, Rivendell Ensemble and Next Theatre. Regional credits include projects for Cal Shakes, Cincinnati Playhouse, Denver Center, Guthrie Theatre, McCarter Theatre, Olney Theatre, South Coast Rep and Round House Theatre; and in New York she has directed for Playwrights Horizons, the Flea and Soho Rep. In 2016 she was honored with the SDC Zelda Fichandler Award. Lisa heads the MFA Directing Program at The Theatre School at DePaul University and lives in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago (Go Sox!) with her husband, playwright Carlos Murillo, and their two teenagers, Eva Rose and Carlos Alejandro. lisaportes.com

Danni Smith

Grants Director/ FOUNDER

Danni Smith

Grants Director/ 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.

Tyler Symone

Firebrand Company

Tyler Symone

Firebrand Company

Tyler Symone is a Chicago based actor. She is originally hails Shelby Township Michigan and is currently a Senior in Columbia College Chicago's BFA Musical Theatre Performance program. Regional and Chicago credits include Annie, Gentlemen's Guide to Love and Murder, and The Full Monty (Rocky Mountain Repertory Theater), Caroline Or Change and 9 to 5 (Firebrand Theatre), A New Brain (Theo Ubique), Porchlight revisits They're Playing Our Song and Little Me (Porchlight Music Theatre), High Fidelity (Refuge Theatre Project), and Tonya and Nancy the Rock Opera (Underscore Theatre Company). Tylersymone.com

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.

JC Widman

Firebrand Company

JC Widman

Firebrand Company

JC is a Chicago-based AEA stage manager. She has stage managed several shows with Firebrand, including 9 to 5, Caroline, or Change, Queen of the Mist, and Always ...Patsy Cline. JC recently got to work with Drury Lane, The Goodman Theatre, The House Theatre of Chicago, and Victory Gardens. She got to work on Cabinet of Curiosity’s Tabletop Tragedies as a part of the International Puppet Festival in Chicago. JC previously worked with wonderful non-equity theaters, such as Jackalope Theatre, BoHo, Neo-Futurist, Hell In A Handbag, Kokandy Productions, Stage Left, Circle Theater, Underscore Theatre, and The Hypocrites. She has also worked with Make Believe Association on two of their production podcasts.