Muse of Fire Theatre Company strives to intrigue and educate the widest possible audience through productions of compelling plays, with Shakespeare as our cornerstone. Our vision is to become an integral part of the arts community and draw as many people as possible into the vibrant world of great theatre through rousing productions and innovative educational programming. We are now entering our ninth season in Evanston. Our past Shakespeare-in-the-park productions, co-sponsored by the City itself, include Henry V, Macbeth, As You Like It, Julius Caesar, The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Romeo and Juliet, Cymbeline, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Queen Margaret, a world-premiere adaptation of four of Shakespeare's history plays. Our educational programming includes theatre workshops and presentations for kids, and both hands-on and discussion-oriented Shakespeare classes for adults offered throughout the year.
Brent T. Barnes has appeared with Muse of Fire as Fluellen in Henry V as part of the company’s inaugural season; as Banquo/Doctor in Macbeth; and most recently as Claudius in Hamlet. Brent has also been our vocal coach for Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Romeo and Juliet. He is an assistant teacher with Piven Theatre Workshop in Evanston, and has been in their productions of What Dreams May Come: American Visions Through Jewish Eyes; Sarah Ruhl's adaptation of The Three Sisters (Kulygin); and Sheldon Patinkin's adaptation of Ivanov (Kosich), all directed by Joyce Piven. Chicago credits: Benny in Pangs of the Messiah (Silk Road Rising); The Christmas Schooner (Bailiwick); and Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (Theatre Classics). He has spent nine seasons at The Utah Shakespeare Festival, where his credits include Aeneas in Troilus and Cressida, Flute/Thisby in A Midsummer Nights Dream, and Osric in Hamlet. Off-Broadway he appeared as Samuel in Grasmere by Kristina Leach, continuing on with the production to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Regional Theatre credits: A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theatre); the U.S. premiere of The Parfumerie (Summer Studio Theatre Company); and Malvolio in Twelfth Night as a guest artist at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
Jon Beal's past Muse of Fire productions include Julius Caesar (Cassius), The Taming of the Shrew (Grumio), Romeo and Juliet (Mercutio), and Queen Margaret (Gloucester/York/Richard). He is also our resident fight choreographer, and has choreographed the violence for Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Hamlet, Cymbeline, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Queen Margaret. Jon attended Columbia College Chicago where he trained as an actor and stage combatant/choreographer. Since graduating in 2011 with a theater degree and several certifications in stage combat, Jon has worked as an actor and fighter with such theater companies as The House Theatre, Waltzing Mechanics, Commedia Beauregard, The Hypocrites, Right Brain Project, The Second City, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Jemma Alix Levy (founder and Artistic Director) got her BA from Amherst College, graduated from The Juilliard School's directing program, then received an MA in Humanities from the University of Chicago, and went on to earn an MFA in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin College's program in association with the American Shakespeare Center. Before Muse of Fire, she started and ran Runamuck Theatre Company in Austin, TX. Her directing credits include critically-acclaimed productions in New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Chicago, including many productions for Muse of Fire. Her essay "Competing Heights in Shakespeare's As You Like It," was published in Shakespeare Embodied, published by Fairleigh Dickinson University Press in 2013. In addition to Queen Margaret, she has also written an adaptation of Hamlet called Believe None of Us. She has taught theatre at Webster University, Wabash College, Roosevelt University, Mary Baldwin College, and The Brearley School. Currently, Jemma is an Assistant Professor of Theater, Dance & Film Studies at Washington and Lee University, where she is in charge of acting and directing.
Contact Jemma: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adrienne Matzen is a Kansas born, Chicago based, UK trained actor and coach. For Muse of Fire she has appeared as Helena and Snug in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Pisanio in Cymbeline, Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, and Rosalind in As You Like It. Chicago credits include The Seven Percent Solution (City Lit), Our New Girl (Profiles Theatre), Holmes and Watson and Confederates in the Attic (City Lit), I Wish to Apologize to the People of Illinois (Agency Theatre Collective), Measure for Measure (St. Sebastian Players), and Tom Jones (Polarity Ensemble Theatre). She has also appeared in Over My Dead Body and many iterations of EL Stories with the Waltzing Mechanics, where she is resident vocal coach. London credits include Come Back to the 5 and Dime… (The Gatehouse), Beat Generation (Old Vic New Voices), The Permanent Way, The Art of Success, Passport to Pimlico, and New England (LAMDA). Adrienne trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
JT Nagle's past Muse of Fire Credits include A Midsummer NIght's Dream (Lysander/Flute) and Romeo and Juliet (Sampson/Peter). Other Chicago theatre credits include The Glass Menagerie (Colorbox Theatre), Bleacher Bums, 44 Plays for 44 Presidents (Oil Lamp), A Phase (Broken Nose), and El Stories: Holiday Train (Waltzing Mechanics), and he is an ensemble member with the Shakespeare All-Stars. Other credits include Picnic and The Lover (Kansas City Actor's Theatre); The Pillowman (Multicultural Theatre Initiative); and Dog Sees God (Auburn Players); and two seasons touring with Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in upstate New York. A graduate of the University of Kansas, JT had the privilege of playing Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream under the direction of Paul Meier and David Crystal in the first North American production to be performed entirely in Original Pronunciation. As an improviser and comedian, JT trained at iO and performs regularly with his independent team Those People.
Benjamin Ponce (Managing Producer) has performed with Muse of Fire in Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He is also an associate ensemble member with TrapDoor Theatre, where he performed in How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients, which will tour Romania and Hungary in 2017; and he is a company member with Stone Soup Shakespeare, with whom he has performed in Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other theatre work includes: Lecherous Honey (Cock and Bull); Shades of Mississippi and Prelude to a Dream (The March: Civil Rights Opera Project); Blood Wedding and Thaddeus and Slocum (Lookingglass Theatre, Dramaturg); The Fundamentals (Steppenwolf, Assistant Director); STORM (Walkabout Theatre, Associate Scenic Designer); and The Abduction of Seraglio and Lucia di Lammermoor (Southern Illinois Music Festival, Lighting Designer). He holds a BFA from the School of Theatre and Music at UIC. Contact Benjamin: email@example.com
Reggie Robinson Jr. appeared with Muse of Fire as Pistol in Henry V and the Porter in Macbeth, before moving to Florida, where he earned an MFA from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory. On returning to Chicago, he also returned to Muse of Fire, where he played Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet and Philario and Caius Lucius in Cymbeline. His credits at the Conservatory included Malvolio in Twelfth Night, the Detective in Stop Kiss, and Burgess in Candida. He recently read the part of Sgt. Green in Ask/Tell as a part of Unplugged, Asolo Rep's New Play Festival.
Chelsea Rolfes has appeared with Muse of Fire as Prince Escalus in Romeo and Juliet and this past summer as Hermia in A Midsummer Night's Dream, which she also co-directed with the ensemble. Other Chicago credits include The Winter's Tale with First Folio Theatre, El Stories: Riding the Line with Waltzing Mechanics, and Quest with Women's Theatre Alliance. She is also a member of The Shakespeare All Stars, performing Shakespeare at various schools and festivals around the city. Chelsea moved to Chicago in 2013 after spending two years as an actor/educator at Merry Go Round Playhouse, touring to schools in Upstate New York. More recently, she toured to schools in Montana as an actor/educator for Montana Shakespeare in the Schools. She graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in Acting.
Eric Damon Smith (AEA, Producing Artistic Associate) is a Chicago based actor/director. As an actor Eric appeared with Muse of Fire as Jaques in As You Like It, and as the Constable of France in Henry V. He also directed Antigone and All's Well That Ends Well for Muse of Fire’s Spring Reading Series before directing our Cymbeline for our regular season. Recent professional acting credits include As You Like It at Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival; Charles Condomine in Blithe Spirit, and roles in Much Ado About Nothing, Sweeney Todd, and Richard III for Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland and Idaho Shakespeare Festival; Bud in Gutenberg! The Musical at Milwaukee Rep.; and Bassanio (Merchant of Venice) and Oliver (As You Like It) at Riverside Theatre in the Parks. Other Chicago credits include: Mosca in Volpone, directed by Sheldon Patinkin (City Lit.); Jamie in Long Day's Journey into Night (Polarity Ensemble); Flaminio Scala (Jeff Award nomination, Actor in a Principal Role - Musical, NonEquity Wing) in The Glorious Ones (Boho and Theatre on the Lake); Malvolio in Twelfth Night (Piccolo Theatre); Antonio in The Merchant of Venice (Boho); and work at Northlight and Remy Bumppo.
Lisa Uhlig is our resident stage manger and has been stage managing for Muse of Fire since their production of Julius Caesar. Last summer she took a break from stage managing to co-direct Queen Margaret. Since graduating from Southern Illinois University she has worked with multiple companies as director, stage manager, and occasional props designer.
Mo Ulicny is Muse of Fire's branding consultant and graphic designer. For over 30 years, her company, Peach Tree Studio, has provided strategy, design and illustration for consumer packaging, advertising, and publishing for clients ranging from local start-ups to global businesses. Mo received her BFA from Saint Mary's College.
ADVISORY COMPANY MEMBERS: