Andra Velis Simon
Andra oversees all musical needs of the department. As an Adjunct Faculty member she also teaches several musical theatre performance courses. Andra was music director for Columbia College Chicago productions of Floyd Collins, LaChiusa's Wild Party, Chicago, Pirates of Penzance and Into the Woods.
As a music director, vocal director, arranger and accompanist, Andra has had the pleasure of working with over 50 arts organizations in and around Chicago, including Bailiwick, Boho, Caffeine Theatre, Chicago Children's Theatre, Chicago Opera Vanguard, City Lit, Defiant, Emerald City, greasy joan, Hell in a Handbag, The Hypocrites, Lifeline, Millennium Park, Noble Fool, Open Eye, Rivendell, Roosevelt University, Signal Ensemble, Stage Left, Strawdog, Theatre Building Chicago, Victory Gardens, and others. She also toured for three summers with Wavelength, a comedy troupe that performs for educators across the country.
Most recently, Andra received rave reviews for her music direction and accompaniment of Boojum!, an opera based on the life and work of Lewis Carroll, directed by Jimmy McDermott at the city's Storefront Theatre. Andra also recently co-arranged and music directed The Hundred Dresses, a smash hit for Chicago Children's Theatre directed by Sean Graney, which was remounted the following year and is now planning an upcoming tour. She also will music direct Chicago Children's Goodnight Moon, directed by Lookingglass Theatre's David Kersnar.
Other highlights include Caged Dames, a world premiere musical by David Cerda for which she provided additional arrangements and music direction; Bohemian Theatre Ensemble's Songs for a New World, which ran in a total of four incarnations including Theater on the Lake; and City Lit Theatre's Juniper Tree, directed by David Cromer.
Andra's work has been commended by the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Reader, Time Out Chicago, Newcity, Gay Chicago Magazine, Windy City Times, Chicago Free Press, and others.
Areas of special expertise include the development of new musical theatre works and coaching vocalists at all skill levels. In addition to teaching privately as a vocal coach and musical theatre audition coach, Andra coordinates workshops for theatres whose acting ensembles are looking to improve their vocal abilities. In this capacity she has assisted companies such as Annoyance Theatre, Defiant, The Hypocrites and Strawdog, where she vocal directed the world premiere of Brett Neveu's first musical, Old Town.
Bachelor of Arts, Georgetown University, cum laude