Firebrand Theatre announces its Inaugural Season of Feminist Programming

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS CONTACT: David Rosenberg

David Rosenberg Public Relations

david@drpublicrelations.com / (773) 505-1429

Firebrand Theatre Announces Inaugural Season: 

Chicago Premiere!

 

LIZZIE

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

Orchestrations by Alan Stevens Hewitt

Directed by Victoria Bussert

Music Direction by Andra Velis-Simon

 

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

 

CHICAGO (February 12, 2017) – 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 inaugural season, featuring two fully-produced musicals. Firebrand’s 2017-18 season kicks off this fall with the Chicago premiere of LIZZIEa rock musical based on the true-life story of accused axe-murdereress Lizzie Borden. Directed by Victoria Bussert with music direction by Andra Velis-Simon, 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 .

The season concludes in spring 2018 with the musical comedy 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL, based on the hit movie of the same name about three working women fighting for equality in a sexist workplace. With music and lyrics by Grammy Award-winner Dolly Parton and a book by Patricia Resnick, 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL will be directed by Artistic Director Harmony France with music direction by Andra Velis-Simon. The cast includes Sharriese Hamilton as Doralee, the role originated by Dolly Parton in the 1980 film.

Firebrand’s 2017-18 Season will be presented at The Den Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Season subscriptions are currently available at firebrandtheatre.org.

 

FIREBRAND THEATRE’S 2017-18 SEASON:

November 11 – December 17, 2017

LIZZIE Chicago Premiere!

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 

Orchestrations by Alan Stevens Hewitt

Directed by Victoria Bussert

Music Direction by Andra Velis-Simon
at The Den Theatre’s Upstairs Main Stage

“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.

 

April 7 – May 20, 2018

9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL

Music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton

Book by Patricia Resnick  

Directed by Artistic Director Harmony France

Music Direction by Andra Velis-Simon

Featuring Sharriese Hamilton as Doralee

at The Den Theatre’s Bookspan Theatre

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.

 

About the Artists

Victoria Bussert (Director, Lizzie) 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.

Harmony France (Director, 9 to 5 The Musical) is artistic director of Firebrand Theatre, founding artistic director of Blue Moon Studio Theatre, a freelance casting director and a teaching artist at Actor’s Training Center. 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, Lizzie and 9 to 5 The Musical) is a music director, adapter, arranger, vocal coach and pianist based in Chicago. She is Firebrand Theatre’s resident music director. 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 the upcoming 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, Kate Garassino, Amber Mak, Danni Smith, Company Members: Kasey Alfonso, Sydney Charles, Carly Glenn, Amanda Horvath, Jon Martinez, Eric Martin, Andra Velis-Simon

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