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This article is about the musical. You may be looking for the soundtrack.

Firebringer is the tenth original online musical released by Team StarKid. It ran at Stage 773 in Chicago from July 6 to August 7, 2016. It was released to YouTube on December 31, 2016.

Summary[]

At the dawn of humanity, one tribe of cave-people survives the many trials of prehistoric life under the wise leadership of Jemilla, The Peacemaker. Jemilla taught her people to express themselves, rather than bashing each others' heads with rocks and eating each others' babies. But one member of the tribe doesn't seem to fit in: Zazzalil. She's always trying to invent things to make life easier… for herself. While out hatching her latest scheme, Zazzalil stumbles upon the most important discovery in history. One that will pit her tribe against wooly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and change the world forever. She'll travel from omega to alpha, and become… the Firebringer!

Synopsis[]

Act 1[]

The show begins with the ensemble dancing around a figure playing ancient drums ("Fire"). Molag, the narrator, speaks to the audience about fire and brings them back in time to tell the story of its invention ("We Are People Now"). In this time, a prolonged intellectual disagreement known as The Great Debate between Smelly-Balls and Chorn is causing chaos in a small tribe of early Homo sapiens. Their leader, Jemilla, steps in and solves it by encouraging Smelly-Balls to change his perspective, earning her the title 'Peacemaker'. The tribe then receives a blessing from their deity, a duck known as the Almighty Duck, and Jemilla encourages them to resume their work. However, a tribe member named Zazzalil pleads for a day off to sing and practice dancing, which has just been invented. Though Zazzalil resists, Jemilla and the rest of the tribe assert that the work must be done ("We Got Work to Do"). While the rest of the tribe perform their jobs, Jemilla meets with Molag, the tribe's former leader. Molag reveals that the duck the tribe worships is but one of many ducks that Molag has captured and used to control the tribe during her time as leader. She also reveals Tiblyn's duty of holding up the sky is unnecessary and useless. Jemilla is severely shaken by these revelations.

Zazzalil and her crony Keeri find Jemilla in her moment of desperation and present an idea to start eating squirrels, instead of their current food staples of nuts and berries. Jemilla tells them to stop thinking of such things and focus on their job, collecting nuts. Zazzalil resents Jemilla's rules and thinks she's holding her back ("What If?"). Zazzalil then has an idea for another invention when she realizes that a sharp stone Keeri found can pierce the skin and potentially kill animals ("Welcome to the Stone Age"). After watching a performance of the single joke in the repertoire of the inventor of comedy, Jemilla's wife Schwoopsie, Tiblyn, and Emberly come upon an intruder named Grunt. Though scared at first, Emberly stops Grunt from eating a poisonous berry and gives him a sandwich she invented ("Just a Taste"). They almost kiss, but Jemilla and the rest of the tribe chase Grunt away since he is an outsider. Jemilla then decides to reveal what Molag taught her, that the duck is not a god and Tiblyn's holding her arms towards the sky is not preventing it from falling. The supreme wizard Ducker claims Jemilla is just a heretic, but is proven wrong when Tiblyn drops her arms, and nothing happens. Ducker removes his wizard hat and the duck flies away. Everyone is dismayed by the shattering of their false ideas, especially Tiblyn and Ducker.

Zazzalil then arrives with her new invention, a spear. She attempts to test it on Keeri, but Jemilla stops her. She then attempts to test it on a mammoth named Trunkell that killed her parents but misses and angers Trunkell. The mammoth chases the tribe up a tree and intimidates them to stay there until nightfall, when Trunkell leaves and the tribe must return to their cave to avoid Snarl, a bloodthirsty Smilodon ("The Night Belongs to Snarl"). While the rest of the tribe continues to struggle with a seemingly godless world, Zazzalil leaves the cave to kill Trunkell and prove that the spear does work ("Into the Night"). The tribe chases after her and find her entering a cave containing a sleeping creature who turns out to be not Trunkell, but Snarl. A bolt of lightning hits the end of Zazzalil's spear and creates a torch which she uses to scare off Snarl. The tribe is amazed by the new invention which Chorn calls fire, and Zazzalil uses their new respect for her to convince them to banish Jemilla. Jemilla warns them that the fire is dangerous and leaves. The tribe worships Zazzalil as the Firebringer ("The Night Belongs to Us").

Act 2[]

The tribe, now led by Zazzalil, marvel over how fire has improved their lives – they have moved out of the cave and kill mammoths so that they no longer go hungry ("Climate Change"). The fire, however, is revealed to have a negative effect as well – it distracts the tribe members from interacting with each other. In addition, Keeri tells Zazzalil that she thinks the mammoths have gone extinct from overhunting, and that the extra meat they dump in the watering hole has poisoned all of the water. Zazzalil encourages her not to worry but Keeri thinks she is turning into a monster. Jemilla, in exile, admits to herself that perhaps her reluctance to accept new ideas was wrong ("Jemilla's Lament"), when suddenly a man from another tribe appears and leads her to his tribe's village.

Grunt manages to find Emberly in her new village and shows her his paintings, then paints a portrait of her ("Paint Me"). Meanwhile, Ducker attempts to reestablish his former power as the duck priest by saying he can interpret the wishes of fire, which is now revered. He asks the tribe to light his hat on fire, which he claims will not burn him and prove that he is the fire's vessel on earth. He catches on fire and quickly sets the whole village ablaze ("Ouch My Butt"), after which the fire dies out. Everyone blames Zazzalil; Keeri says that Jemilla was right to call the fire dangerous, and that Zazzalil is a bad leader. Suddenly, Snarl appears, and snatches Grunt back to his lair. Emberly entreats the tribe to help her get Grunt back, and they all agree to help her. Emberly comes up with a plan to defeat Snarl – she paints fire on a stone tablet using her feces and hopes that the image of fire will drive him off. Though Zazzalil begs them not to go, saying it's a bad plan, the tribe follows Emberly to save Grunt.

Zazzalil laments her mistakes ("Backfire") and is visited by the man from the other tribe who, upon hearing her name, brings her back to his tribe. There she finds that Jemilla is the new leader of this tribe. Zazzalil begs her to return, admitting that she is a better leader, but Jemilla refuses as in this new tribe she has many attractive husbands and wives ('played by' the audience) and two children. Zazzalil promises to marry Jemilla if she returns, but Jemilla still refuses. Eventually they both confess their wrongdoings to each other and admit they're more alike than they thought. Jemilla finally agrees to return, saying goodbye to her husbands, wives, and children. Jemilla tells Zazzalil that she will hold her to the marriage promise, and they celebrate how much more they can accomplish ("Together"). Jemilla resolves to help save Grunt and the tribe and tells Zazzalil they need to make more spears.

The rest of the tribe finds Grunt in Snarl's lair, but Grunt's feet and one of his arms have already been eaten. Snarl is asleep, leading the tribe to believe that they can rescue Grunt and leave without having to deal with the predator. However, Jemilla and Zazzalil enter the cave loudly and cause Snarl to reawaken. When Emberly's plan to wave the painting at him doesn't work, Jemilla and Zazzalil attempt to stab Snarl through the eyes with their spears. They both miss and hit their spears against the cave wall, creating sparks. Zazzalil realizes this is how fire is made and bangs the sharpened stones from their spears together, creating a fire that sets Snarl ablaze, killing him. Jemilla congratulates Zazzalil for making fire and the tribe is in awe. Suddenly, Chorn reveals itself to be an alien of a species that seeded life on Earth. It was charged with testing humanity and declares the lightning bolt that hit Zazzalil's spear to make the first fire was actually a photon beam from its ship. It admonishes the tribe not to let new inventions make them arrogant, and restores Grunt's arm, though it is incapable of doing the same to his feet. It then gives the whole tribe its vast alien knowledge including the future of all humanity ("Chorn"), sending them into spasms. When the tribe awakens, they sing and dance; Zazzalil and Jemilla propose to each other, and Jemilla promises to give new ideas a try before dismissing them. The tribe finds comfort in their larger understanding of the world ("Finale").

Development[]

Firebringer was announced on January 1, 2016 via the kickstarter announcement trailer and the Kickstarter campaign was launched the same day. The campaign raised $154,670 between 3,722 backers.[1] The show was performed at Stage 773, Chicago from July 6 to August 7, 2016 and was published to YouTube on January 1st 2017. In March 2019, the production rights for Firebringer were released, allowing people to license their own production of the show, with an all-ages version available.

Cast[]

Cast (*) Character
Lauren Lopez Zazzalil
Meredith Stepien Jemilla
Rachael Soglin Emberly
Denise Donovan Keeri
Joey Richter Grunt
Snarl
Trunkell
Lauren Walker Molag
Snarl
Trunkell
Jaime Lyn Beatty Schwoopsie
Claire
Brian Holden Smelly-Balls
Jemilla's Son
Jamie Burns Chorn
Tiffany Williams Tiblyn
Jemilla's Daughter
Joe Walker Ducker
Clark Baxtresser Himself

(*) Bold names denote the actor's onstage Starkid debut

Band[]

Name Position
Clark Baxtresser Keyboard
Pierce Siebers Keyboard
Nick Gage Bass
Jon Jackson Marimba/Percussion
Nick Kabat Drums/Percussion

Creative Team[]

Name Position
Nick Lang Book
Director
Props
Choreography
Camera Operator
Video Editor
Matt Lang Book
Props
Camera Operator
Brian Holden Book
Meredith Stepien Additional Writing
Julia Albain Director
Meredith Stepien Music and Lyrics
Mark Swiderski Music and Lyrics
Sound Design
Clark Baxtresser Music Direction
Pierce Siebers
Corey Lubowich Scenic Design
Sarah Petty Lighting Design
June Saito Costume Design
Adam Brunetti Sound Design
Russ Walko Puppets
Denise Donovan Choreography
Ruby Summers Stage Manager
Craig Kidwell Technical Director
Amy Plouff Scenic Painter
Robert Manion Production Assisant
Yonit Olshan Assistant Costume Designer/Shadow Puppets
Tony Pisaneschi Camera Operator

Songs[]

Act 1 Song Sung By Duration
Fire Company 1:06
We Are People Now Company 1:08
We Got Work To Do Zazzalil, Jemilla and the Tribe 3:52
What If? Zazzalil 1:48
Welcome to the Stone Age Company 1:06
Just a Taste Emberly and Grunt 3:01
The Night Belongs to Snarl Smelly-Balls, Schwoopsie, Ducker, Tiblyn and Keeri 3:34
Into the Night Zazzalil and Company 1:46
The Night Belongs to Us Zazzalil and the Tribe 3:02
Act 2 Climate Change Zazzalil and Company 3:19
Jemilla's Lament Jemilla 3:38
Paint Me Emberly and Grunt 2:17
Ouch My Butt Company 1:06
Backfire Zazzalil and Company 0:30
Together Zazzalil and Jemilla 2:03
Chorn Chorn and Company 2:06
Finale (Make The Most Of It) Company 4:46

Critical Reception[]

The musical received mixed reviews. Online source Hypable hosts a guest-written review that is generally positive.[2] Reviewer Julia Delbel praises the female-led cast in particular: "Firebringer provides a refreshing change[...] by skipping right to the part where no one has to question women’s rights because they just exist." Nina Metz of the Chicago Tribune is also positive in this aspect: "The women are in charge here, but you will find nothing so obvious as a girl power anthem in the score. The show simply takes it as a given. That's pretty great."[3] Christopher Kidder-Mostrom of Theatre by Numbers gives a positive review, praising the show as a "tightly scripted piece" with "solid melodies, harmonies, and even clever rhyme schemes."[4]

A clip of the beginning of the song "We've Got Work To Do," specifically Zazzalil's refrain "I don't really wanna do the work today" went viral a few months after the musical was released,[5] and was even parodied by the cast of The Book of Mormon.[6]

Gallery

Click here to view the image gallery for Firebringer.
Click here to view the gallery.

Trivia[]

  • Notable mishaps include:
    • Lauren's microphone not working for the first act on the night that her parents saw the show, leading to the band and ensemble quieting down instantly
    • Jaime wearing white tennis shoes onstage
    • Rachael's beaded belt exploding all over the stage during a solo which led to multiple cast members trying to get rid of the beads, including Joey as Trunkell trying to sweep them off the stage with her trunk and Lauren Walker as Molag coming onstage with a broom to clean them up
  • In the original cast announcements, Molag was called Kahlo, Schwoopsie was Sahra, Smelly-Balls was Choka, Chorn was Sheena, and Ducker was called Dur

References[]

  1. "Firebringer - StarKid's New Stone Age Musical". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2020-04-15.
  2. "Team StarKid's 'Firebringer' review: Light that flame". 13 July 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2017
  3. Metz, Nina. "'Firebringer' is zany prehistoric fun". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  4. "Review: "Firebringer" (StarKid Productions) – Theatre by Numbers". theatre1234.com. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  5. "I don't really want to do the work today". 5 January 2018.
  6. lungthief (Jun 26, 2017). dont wanna do the work today. Retrieved 2020-02-29 – via YouTube.
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