Firebrand Theatre’s deliciously sinister production of LIZZIE enraptures the audience with unparalleled energy. The dazzling rock score alone is enough to blow theatregoers away. The enthusiasm of the cast and live onstage band not only complements the score but could easily stand alone as a great show itself.
FAMILIAR STORY WITH A TWIST
As possibly the only murderer with her own children’s rhyme, Lizzie Borden is a notorious figure in American culture. This rock musical reimagines the legend with four women fronting a rock band. The women represented are Lizzie herself, the sister, the maid and the neighbor. Through each of these women, we are taken through the myth of the Lizzie Borden story.
FIREBRAND THEATRE NAILS THEIR INAUGURAL PRODUCTION
Firebrand Theatre is the first musical theatre company committed to employing and empowering women. It is hard to imagine a more perfect production to kick off this hopefully enduring new company that Chicago is lucky to have. The women on stage completely embody this mission. The music booming from the onstage all female rock band can be felt throughout the small room. The astounding vocals from the four cast members could easily fill a much larger venue.
ROCK CONCERT WITH A STORY
The audience is immediately met with a light haze upon entry into the theatre. The band is set up on stage, giving the feel of a rock concert more so than musical theatre. Once the first chords are heard in the powerful opening number, it is completely clear the kind of evening to expect. The production remains both lighthearted and dark throughout. The dark story of murder mixes with the lightness of comedy at the just the right moments to be immensely entertaining.
A DREAM CAST
The four women who make up this cast are a marvel. Jacquelyne Jones plays the neighbor with a sincere sense of innocence. Leah Davis treats the audience to a comedic performance that will not be forgotten as the Borden’s maid. Her general annoyance at the girls and hilarious facial expressions steal the show. Camille Robinson portrays Lizzie’s sister with fire. To say it is a bold performance does not do it justice. Lizzie is portrayed flawlessly by the unbelievably talented Liz Chidester. This woman is a star. She moves perfectly through Lizzie’s journey of damaged girl to a woman ready to take fate into her own hands. Her voice and physicality are tailormade for this role.
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.
Photos by Marisa KM
Top Pick For: Fans of Repo! The Genetic Opera and Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Not recommended for: Those seeking traditional theatre
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Note: an excerpt of this review now appears in Theatre in Chicago.
November 11 - January 14, 2018
Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00PM
Sundays at 3:00PM
*No performance on November 23 (Thanksgiving Day)
Late Night Performances (featuring understudies):
Friday, December 1 at 11:00PM
Saturday, December 2 at 11:00PM
Friday, December 8 at 11:00PM
Saturday, December 9 at 11:00PM
Open Captioned Performances:
Sunday, November 26 at 3:00PM
Sunday, December 3 at 3:00PM