Chicago Tribune 12/24/14:  Christopher Borrelli's article on Theater Wit's production of Mr. Burns: a post electric-play  and Chris Jones' review of HMS Pinafore

Press Review Quotes


“ ... gifted music director, Andra Velis Simon ...  subtly re-orchestrated the show ...  so that it comes with much more of a bluegrass flavor...  What a killer idea.” 

--Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, on 9 to 5, 2018

“…the balance struck by music director Andra Velis Simon is praiseworthy.” 

--Charles McNulty, L.A. Times, on Pirates of Penzance, 2018

“NYT Critic’s Pick… The music director, Andra Velis Simon, ensures that you never miss the presence of an orchestra.”

--Ben Brantley, New York Times, on Pirates of Penzance, 2017

“Applause, too, for the sensational musical direction of conductor/keyboardist Andra Velis Simon… and the all-female band… that rocks it to the rafters…” 

--Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times, on LIZZIE, 2017

“Andra Velis Simon gave us a gloriously goofy, unapologetically feminist take on a stale, sexist fairytale.” 

--Catey Sullivan, Chicago Magazine’s Best of Chicago Theater, on Cinderella at the Theater of Potatoes, 2016

“Musically there is a lot of ingenuity… Andra Velis Simon’s musical direction makes the troubadour style look deceptively simple.” 

--Nelson Pressley, Washington Post, on Pirates of Penzance & The Mikado, 2016

“The organic way in which the actors become musicians (and vice-versa) makes the efforts of John Doyle… seem tentative by comparison.” 

--Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, on American Idiot, 2015

“… all the actors do double duty as a rather remarkably proficient “orchestra,” under Andra Velis Simon’s inventive music direction… top 5 musicals of the year” 

--Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle, on Pirates of Penzance, 2015

“They re-create the symphonic score on hoot­enanny instruments; they harmonize like members of the Met while standing on the bar…” 

--Jed Gottlieb, Boston Herald, on The Mikado, 2015

“… the multifarious modes of live accompaniment are endlessly amusing.” 

--Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, on H.M.S. Pinafore, 2014

"Andra Velis Simon’s brilliant adaptation of the score… sounds like a late-night folk festival jam session... the talent... is staggering.”

--Marty Rosen, LEO Weekly, on Pirates of Penzance at Actors Theatre of Louisville, 2014

“…the Hypocrites’ musicianship has never sounded better.” 

--Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago, on The Mikado, 2013

“Andra Velis Simon’s adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s orchestral score for a folksier sound is seamless.”

--Alex Huntsberger, Centerstage, on The Mikado, 2013

“… Arthur Sullivan’s lovely, lilting melodies come through well in musical director Andra Velis Simon’s folk/pop interpretations.” 

--Albert Williams, Chicago Reader, on The Mikado, 2013

 “…incorporates many of [Tennessee] Williams’ charming musical suggestions… songs and the singing are lovely…”

--John Lahr, The New Yorker, on Camino Real, 2012

“Bieito’s mostly Spanish soundscape is one of this formidable production’s most powerful weapons.”

--Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, on Camino Real, 2012

 “Tesori’s score is exceptionally well sung… under the musical direction of Andra Velis Simon.” 

--Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, on Violet, 2011

“The deceptively complex score… impeccably realized by music [director] Andra Velis Simon…”   

--Kris Vire, Time Out Chicago, on Boojum!, 2010

“… superb musical direction by Velis Simon (who also supplies the brilliant, tremendously difficult onstage piano  accompaniment)…”   

--Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times, on Boojum!, 2010

“Andra Velis Simon’s astute musical direction makes the difficult, often discordant score a compelling conduit for a dark story…”

--Catey Sullivan, Windy City Times, on Bernarda Alba, 2008

 “Thanks to Andra Velis Simon's confident musical direction, the songs stay as strong as the story…” 

--Lawrence Bommer, Chicago Reader, on 1776, 2008

“Also deserving kudos… music director and pianist Andra Velis Simon for the extraordinary range of moods she is able to evoke.”   

--Dennis Polkow, Newcity, on Songs for a New World, 2007

“… one crackerjack musical director, Andra Velis Simon, smoking up the keyboard.”   --Web Behrens, Chicago Free Press, on Songs for a New World, 2007