CHICAGO – 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 casting for 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 are currently on sale at firebrandtheatre.org. Season subscriptions (including 9 TO 5 THE MUSICAL) are currently available. The press opening is Tuesday, November 14 at 7:30 pm.
LIZZIE will feature 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, Becca Brown as Emma, Amanda Horvath as Bridget and Elle Walker as Alice.
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 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.
“We thought casting Lizzie would be extremely difficult since the skillsets needed are so specific and challenging – yet it turned out to be the easiest casting I’ve ever done because Chicago is overflowing with talented women,” comments Founder and Artistic Director Harmony France. “It became immediately clear that one cast was not enough. Our regular Lizzie cast is going to blow you away, but our understudies are so incredible that we decided to add four special late-night performances so audiences can also enjoy their talents. Looking to the future, Firebrand will strive to empower both women and men, but for Lizzie we wanted to come out of the gate and flood the stage, the band and backstage with women in a way that hasn’t been done before. There isn’t a better show to do that with than Lizzie.”
The production team for LIZZIE includes: Eleanor Kahn (scenic design), Charlotte M. Yetman (costume design), Maya Michele Fein (lighting design), Victoria Deiorio (sound design), Jeff Herrmann (props design) and Danielle Stack (production manager).
Music: Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt
Lyrics: Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner
Book: Tim Maner
Additional Music: Tim Maner
Additional Lyrics: Alan Stevens Hewitt
Based on an original concept by: Steven Cheslik-deMeyer and Tim Maner
Orchestrations: Alan Stevens Hewitt
Director: Victoria Bussert
Music Directors: Julia A. Miller and Andra Velis Simon
Choreography: Janet Louer
Cast: Liz Chidester (Lizzie), Leah Davis (Bridget), Jacquelyne Jones (Alice) and Camille Robinson (Emma).
Late Night Cast/Understudies: Kyrie Anderson (Lizzie), Becca Brown (Emma), Amanda Horvath, (Bridget) and Elle Walker (Alice).
Location: The Den Theatre’s Bookspan Theatre, 1333 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Dates: Previews: Saturday, November 11 at 8 pm and Sunday, November 12 at 3 pm
Press performance: Tuesday, November 14 at 7:30 pm.
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. Tickets 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.
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.
Kasey Alfonso, Artistic Associate
Lili-Anne Brown, Artistic Advisor
Sydney Charles, Educational Outreach
Brenda Didier, Artistic Advisor
Adelina Feldman-Schultz, Casting
Harmony France, Artistic Director, Founder
Kate Garassino, Operations Advisor
Emjoy Gavino, Artistic Advisor
Carly Glenn, Sponsorships/Fundraising
Amanda Horvath, Social Media
Amber Mak, Artistic Advisor
Eric Martin, Web and Graphic Design, Founder
Jon Martinez, Company Manager
Amelia Jo Parrish, Literary Manager
Danni Smith, Artistic Advisor, Founder
Andra Velis Simon, Resident Music Director