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  Lizzie Reviews

Firebrand Theatre at The Den Theatre
Thru - Jan 14, 2018

Show Information

Firebrand Theatre at The Den Theatre

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Highly Recommended

"...But Bussert makes it work - her most potent weapon is a killer, no-holds-barred performance from Chidester that's as forceful as anything you can see on a Chicago stage at present, a performance that's supported vocally and emotionally on three sides. The dominant energy of this musical sisterhood (Andra Velis Simon conducts an all-woman rock band) is defiance. The piece is constructed to be a great collective cry of passion and self-actualization and a warning of painful consequence for the patriarchy. And yet even with all of that, there's just enough of that historical (and glam-rock infused) distance to give the audience permission to enjoy the amped-up juice of the storytelling without fearing for their skulls."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times- Highly Recommended

"...But it is the scorching score, and the radiant voices and galvanic personalities of the women who portray Lizzie (Liz Chidester), her older sister, Emma (Camille Robinson), her neighbor and lover, Alice (Jacquelyne Jones), and the Borden family maid, Bridget (Leah Davis), that truly get your blood surging as they suggest what might have happened in the Borden household on an August night in 1892."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Reader- Somewhat Recommended

"...The effortful score sounds rather like Pat Benatar, Stephen Sondheim, and Meatloaf tossed in a blender. Director Victoria Bussert keeps her four overburdened female performers speaking and singing into handheld and headset microphones simultaneously while unconvincingly imitating Broadway belters cum rock goddesses. The design, however, is gorgeous."
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Justin Hayford

Windy City Times- Highly Recommended

"...The debut production of a new company often is called a "calling card," allowing public response to determine if the troupe should be invited to stick around. Based on this Chicago premiere of Lizzie, Firebrand Theatre can stay as long as it wishes and has earned a seat at the table."
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Jonathan Abarbanel

Time Out Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...The show’s second act comes after a super-sized intermission and follows Lizzie from suspicion to arrest through her trial and (century-old spoilers) her exoneration. It also sees Act I’s historical costumes swapped out for leather and fishnets, a signal that the show has firmly entered the realm of hard-rock mythologizing. Lizzie becomes looser, bawdier, funnier and runs entirely out of you-know-what’s to give: a no-holds-barred celebration of female empowerment, of throwing two birds to the sky and telling the patriarchal powers-that-be to shove it. Hear, hear."
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Alex Huntsberger

Chicago On the Aisle- Highly Recommended

"...Imported for the Chicago extension part of the run is the fiercely magnetic Ciara Renée as Lizzie’s protective, “dark-souled” sister Emma. It is she who coaxes Lizzie out of denial and then must scramble to deal with drastic consequences. (Having done Emma at Playhouse Square, Renée seemed to drop effortlessly into the show’s intricate and eye-catching pretzel choreography.)"
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Nancy Malitz

Splash Magazine- Highly Recommended

"...This is a hoot of a gothic rock and roll reimagining of the fateful murders in a heat-emblazoned summer in 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts. As the temperature outside makes the already overwhelming passions simmer, tragedy erupts. Here, the blaze is distributed throughout the cast and pumped up to maximum wattage by great voices, funky music, killer (!) facial expressions and heavily campy lesbian-based innuendo, along with some slick posturing/choreography."
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Debra Davy

Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"... Firebrand Theatre, with its inaugural production of “Lizzie,” has put an indelible stamp on the local musical theater scene. The work, which has become an almost global underground phenomenon, is finally receiving its Chicago premiere in a blistering and highly entertaining production. Firebrand Theatre, according to its Artistic Director Harmony France, is the first musical theater company in the U.S. “committed to employing and empowering women by expanding opportunities on and off the stage.” This piece perfectly fits their mission and features a quartet of extremely talented performers backed by a kick-ass group of femme musicians."
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Jeffrey Leibham

NewCity Chicago- Recommended

"...The script might not be the strongest but this cast makes it work. They climb on chairs and throw mic stands to the ground and melt your face off with vocal chords of steel. Twenty-four hours later my ears are still ringing. If you aren't cheering for the women of "Lizzie" by the end of act one you might be dead."
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Emma Couling

Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...This production is an auspicious beginning for a brand new theatre. It’s exciting to witness the birth of such a unique company, entirely devoted to empowering and employing women, and demonstrating the power and talent of feminine artists from every walk of life. If this first production is any indication of what Chicago is in store for during upcoming shows and future seasons, we’re in for a truly magnificent new experience. This Equity ensemble will, throughout the year, be just like Lizzie Borden and knock ‘em dead."
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Colin Douglas

The Fourth Walsh- Highly Recommended

"...The show is first and foremost a rock opera. All these ladies have the pipes to shake the rafters and they do just that with Andra Velis Simon’s (music direction, conductor) four piece band. This show has a lot to love including plastic ponchos for the brave front rows. Firebrand has thrown down the flaming gauntlet as a powerhouse musical theatre company. Their debut is Chicago’s hot ticket this season!"
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Katy Walsh

Chicagoland Musical Theatre- Recommended

"...he stunning lighting by Maya Michele Fein, so important in a small stage/concert style setting, is worthy of Jeff consideration. As is Victoria Deiorio's impeccable sound design, no easy task for a show with this amount of musical variety. And of the music, Musical Director Andra Velis Simon and her on-stage band are simply terrific."
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Barry Reszel

Third Coast Review- Highly Recommended

"...Tied together with impressive music direction from Andra Velis-Simon and a powerful, all-female, on-stage band, Lizzie is as much an incredibly satisfying musical theater experience as it is a raw beacon of catharsis amidst a news cycle where stories of men abusing women have become numbing in their procession."
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Brent Eickhoff

Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended

"...Lizzie, a musical by Tim Maner, Alan Stevens Hewitt, and Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, is a taut, perfectly structured play in the mode of Sweeney Todd or Jekyll and Hyde: a dark, bloody story with a thrilling score and such inventive stagecraft that it makes for an electrifying night at the theatre. The production by brand new Firebrand Theatre, making its debut with this show, is no exception: with its strong direction, brilliant acting, excellent musicianship, and carefully crafted lights and sound, this Lizzie does the show's creators proud, telling the punk rock saga of Lizzie Borden with panache and power. It's difficult to imagine the show done any better."
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Karen Topham

Picture This Post- Highly Recommended

"...While each woman is a powerhouse on her own, what really makes this show astonishing is the energy and passion they find together. The movement, the sharing of microphones and just the literal and figurative closeness among them will make you want to see the show again and wish there were going to be a cast recording of this specific production."
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Stephanie Dykes