Chicago actors Harmony France and Danni Smith have announced the launch of a new musical theater company, Firebrand Theatre, dedicated to expanding opportunities for women in theater.
"There is a void in our industry, with more actresses than actors, yet fewer roles for women," said France in a prepared statement. "There are also statistically more women than men in our audiences. Yet, most musicals are directed by men, cast with mostly men, with stories about men."
"What I find so exciting is the chance to be a part of creating a safe space where theater artists are empowered to make thoughtful, powerful, truthful musical theater," added Smith. "To celebrate the incredible artistry of the women in this community and create more work to showcase them is thrilling and, frankly, necessary."
Firebrand, which plans to work under Actors' Equity Association contracts from the start, intends to stage its first production a year from now, concentrating on fundraising in the interim (an Indiegogo campaign is already live). The company will celebrate its announcement with a launch party on March 27 at Underground Lounge, featuring musical performances by Rashada Dawan, Bethany Thomas, Steven Perkins, Danni Smith, Missy Aguilar, Sydney Charles, Jasondra Johnson, Lili-Anne Brown, Amanda Horvath, Angela Alise, Christina Hall, Khaki Pixley, Annie Passanisi Ruggles and Melissa Young. Musicians include Jimmy Morehead, Ethan Deppe, Adam DeGroot, Corey Richardson and Jake Saleh. Visit firebrandtheatre.org for updates.