Firebrand Theatre Inaugural Production of “LIZZIE” runs Nov 11 – Dec 17 at The Den

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.

The cast of Firebrand Theatre’s Chicago premiere of LIZZIE (left to right) Leah Davis, Jaquelyne Jones, Liz Chidester and Camille Robinson. Photo by Joe Mazza.

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).

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 WoodsOnce 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), AssassinsThe Secret GardenOnce On This IslandBarnum, Into The Woods and Anyone Can Whistle. Regional: The FrogsYou’re Gonna Love TomorrowPacific OverturesCompanyGoblin MarketFolliesA Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The ForumLittle Shop of HorrorsA 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.