BriarRose is the age-old story of a fairytale Princess banished by an evil Queen, with a twist: the “Princess” is actually Briar, a young trans man just discovering his identity.
If you’ve been wandering through the woods searching for the mirror that truly reflects you - you found it! Welcome.

About the Show

Show summary and background on music story development.


Meet the team behind BriarRose!

Content & Accessibility

Information about the content and themes ("Content/Trigger Warnings") of the show.

About the Show

a young man with curly blond hair and a red shirt stands in front of a frame. behind him is a background of briars, and in front of him a hand reached out from a pile of roses.

BriarRose is the age-old story of a fairytale Princess banished by an evil Queen, with a twist: the “Princess” is actually Briar, a young trans man just discovering his identity. With help from budding sorceress Ellen, Briar is able to magically transform into his true self, and together they make a new life for themselves deep in the enchanted woods.But when dashing Prince Alister and Lady Knight Brunhilde appear after Ellen casts a seemingly harmless charm, Briar and Ellen’s simple lives are suddenly much more complicated - and the Queen still casts a long shadow over what should be a happy ending.Join this cast of familiar characters as they explore a world where magic can unlock what lies inside your heart - for better or for worse…

BriarRose is funded in part by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.
Magpie Artists' Ensemble is Powered by Shunpike.

The Music of Briar/Rose

One of the unique features of BriarRose is its music. Every song in the show has a base melody taken from the traditional Celtic and English canons, with new harmonies and arrangements that add a magical twist. The lyrics range from entirely new ones written by the playwright ("A Vision," "The Forest") to ones that were chosen because they fit the narrative already ("Rose Red," "Ah, Poor Bird"). For those who are interested in music history, you can find the original melodies, lyrics, and more information below:

Rose Red & Ah, Poor Bird
Traditional English; composed by Thomas Ravenscroft c. 1600
A Vision
Medley of "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" (composed by Robert Swyer Joyce c. 1861) & "Teir Abhaile Riu" (traditional Celtic, Roud #2994).
The Forest
"The King of Ireland's Son," traditional Irish of unknown origin.
The Valley
"Oidhche Mhath Leibh," traditional Scottish of unknown origin.
Taking Aim
"Black is the Color"/"Dark is the Color," traditional Celtic, Roud #3103.
Passing the Hours
"Nil Na La (It is Not Day Nor Morning)," traditional Celtic, no Roud #.
Red is the Rose
Traditional Celtic, Roud #32602.
The Northern Shore
"Moorlough Shore," Roud #2946.
The Parting Glass
Traditional Irish, Roud #3004.

The Roud Index is a massive free archive of recordings and lyrics to thousands of folk songs. You can find information on the sources, variants, and oldest recordings of these songs and countless others by searching the index using the numbers provided.

Tales to look out for

BriarRose draws on Grimms' Fairy Tales, as well as Celtic and Slavic folklore, to build a world and story that may be familiar to many people in the audience.According to anthropologist Jamshid Tehrani (amongst others), the fairy tales many of us grew up hearing and watching date back 6,000 years, to stories that are the narrative ancestors of much of the Proto-Indo-European canon. In a sense, the cast of Briar/Rose is simply continuing a millenias-old tradition - using ancient characters and plot points to craft narratives that express the values, fears, and hopes of our community.Familiar stories and folklore that make an appearance in the show include...

  • Little Snow-White

  • The Animal Bride Groom

  • Ivan Kupala Night (Slavic Solstice)

  • Beauty and the Beast/The Singing, Springing Lark

  • Little Brier-Rose


Briar | Director | Playwright | Sets | James T. Washburn

James T. Washburn (he/him) is a gay, trans, and disabled Storyteller-Activist based in Seattle. His work is deeply inspired by his community and experiences at the intersection of marginalized identities.
Washburn is a multi-hyphenate artist, with works spanning from the immersive epistolary novella Sealed with Honey to Achilles + Patroclus, a chamber opera commissioned by the Seattle Opera. He takes inspiration from folklore, mythology, and queer history; his work focuses on discovering queerness in traditional stories and reimagining familiar tropes and archetypes through a queer lens.
Washburn is the Founding Artistic Director of Magpie Artists’ Ensemble, an artistic collective focused on innovative cross-disciplinary storytelling.

Queen Alba | Costumes | Sets | Michelle Marais

Michelle Marais Goodwin (she/her) is a Native American (Ojibwe) actor, painter, and costume designer. Originally from the rural Midwest, she studied theater and visual art at the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley, MN, graduating in 2016. In 2020, Michelle received her BFA in Theater from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA, where she presently resides.

Prince Alister | Music Director | Jae Kinsman

Jae Kinsman (they/them) is stoked to finally bring Briar/Rose to the stage. Graduating from Cornish College of the Arts in 2020 with a BFA in musical theatre, they had to find new ways to create art in a locked down world and unfortunately cut their time with Briar/Rose The Senior Thesis Project short.
Imagine their surprise and excitement when freshly founded Magpie Artists' Ensemble was given the opportunity to finish what they started three years ago. In a time when trans stories and trans joy desperately need to be shared and heard, they thank you for joining us.

Rose/Young Briar | Reese Sigman

Reese Sigman (he/him) is a recent graduate of Central Washington University’s Musical Theatre BFA program. As his final project, he wrote, produced, and performed a full-length one-person musical in just 10 months! Reese does not recommend that you write, produce, and perform a full-length one-person musical in just 10 months. Take your time. Look out for the album version of “Reese Sigman is Lying Completely Still” on Spotify and other streaming services! Follow reese.sigman on Instagram for updates. These days, you’ll catch Reese working at the Trader Joes in Burien - Come say hi! Reese thanks you for choosing to be here and supporting the things held nearest to his heart.

Ellen & Pearl the Seer * | Katya Orlov

Katya (she/her) is ecstatic to help bring Briar/Rose to life. As a queer person herself, she is excited to be playing a gay person on stage. That kind of representation is important to her and the community. Katya studied Musical Theatre at Cornish College of the Arts and received her BFA in May 2020.
She was most recently seen in the ensemble of a production of Pool (No Water) at the University of Washington. She also just took part in Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s SJAM festival as a SFX makeup artist.
She would like to thank God and her chosen family for all the love.

* name sponsored by Kris Panchyk

Lady Brunhilde | Neena Malcom

Neena (They/She) is thrilled to be working on a show that celebrates queerness so lovingly, with a company that reflects the show proudly.
Neena plans to graduate with a BFA in Musical Theatre and a minor in dance from PLU in Tacoma in December of 2023.
Their recent credits include Agnes in "She Kills Monsters" with Alpha Psi Omega, Rachel in "Reckless" and Ensemble in "Pippin" with PLU Theatre and Dance.
Neena would love to thank their wonderful girlfriend for sending her the audition announcement and for her constant support in everything she does. She would also like to thank her parents for always encouraging her in all of their pursuits and thank you to the cast and crew for being wonderful!

Bimples The Crow * | Flute | Skye Farrell

Skye Farrell (he/they) is an actor musician from Seattle. In addition to playing the flute, he sings, plays trombone, and occasionally attempts the trumpet. He recently graduated from the Institute of the Arts Barcelona with his BA (hons) in acting, and is excited to be performing in Seattle again!
Some of their recent credits include being an Understudy/Swing for Taproot Theatre's road company, Liseo (La Dama Boba), and Vernon (Vernon God Little) at Institute of the Arts Barcelona. They have been in many shows that James has directed over the last 7 years, including their first leading role in high school as Arthur in Camelot!

* name sponsored by Robert Frederiksen

Mothy Rumples The Guard * | Aster Knudson

Aster Knudson (he/they) is honored to be part of the Briar Rose team!
He graduated in 2022 with a BA in Theatre Arts and Art & Design from Central Washington University where he played in Central Theatre Ensemble’s Spring Awakening, the 2022 Winter Short Works Festival, and Reese Sigman is Lying Completely Still. They hope you enjoy the show!

* name sponsored by Timothy Meyer

Storyteller | Piano | Daniel Anson

Daniel Anson (he/him) is beyond excited to share this incredible story with you all! Daniel is a multidisciplinary Jack of All trades excited to be back onstage.
Recently, he has worked on THE NICETIES and THE SIGN IN SIDNEY BRUSTEINS WINDOW (Intiman) and NOT/OUR TOWN, and is excited to grow with fellow artists! @daniel.new25

Director of Photography | Rowan Gallagher

Rowan Gallagher (he/they) is a local actor and director in the Seattle area.
He graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in the spring of 2021, and since then he has been involved in a number of theatre and film projects including “Jasper in Deadland” at Villiage Theatre, and Cornish’s fall production of “She Kills Monsters”.
Rowan is very excited to be creating theatre with Magpie Artists’ Ensemble, and to be helping bring new work to the Seattle arts scene.

Lighting Design | Anna Shih


Stage Manager | Alexandra Angelova

Alexandra Angelova (she/her) is a Bulgarian American stage manager and event coordinator based in Seattle. She has been stage managing James' crazy ideas since 2016, when she co-founded their first company, Bellevue Teen Productions.
Alexandra is a Founding Member and resident stage manager at Magpie Artists' Ensemble.

Assistant Stage Manager | Board Op | Tony Holzwarth

Originally growing up in the suburbs of the Chicago-land area, Tony Holzwarth (They/He) is a long time appreciator and seldom participant of the arts. Their acting history started off with Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, Roger in Rent, and Emmet in Legally Blonde The Musical.
Recently relocated to the PNW, they are excited to explore what the local theatre scene has to offer.

Fight Choreographer | Casey Hartman

Casey (she/her) is a graduate of Cornish College of the Arts and has previously understudied for Village Theatre’s Matilda as well as played Adrian/Shipmaster in Seattle Shakespeare Company’s The Tempest. She is thrilled to be working with Magpie Artists’ Ensemble now, as a passion for LGBTQ+ representation lives close to her heart.

Producers & funding

A Magpie Artists' Ensemble & Theatre Off Jackson Co-Production

Partially Funded by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture

Fiscal Sponsorship & Rehearsal Space Provided by Shunpike

Artist Payments Sponsored by Wimmonat Mortimore

Raven-Level Producers:
Robert Frederiksen | Kris Panchyk | Timothy Meyer | Kaden Catalina

Special Thanks:
Dale Washburn | Karen Goodwin | Emily Doorenbos | Heather Roemer

Marlowe Wesley | Dixie Crockford | Dyl Olson | A. Benningfield | Chess Amadé | Kyle Huck | Sarah Roderick | Emily Rousell | Sheila Dougherty | Vesper | Angie Soriano | Anastasia Demers | Kai Enna Aedan Holmes | A. Benningfield | Sawyer Vincent | Jack Schiller | Rachel | Justin Bougher | Nicole Koschmeder | Daniel Anix | Alexis Winstanley | Sammy Kinsman | Carla Corrado | Marvin Ortez | Andreas L. | Michael | Nate Couturier | Tricia Busick | Rachel Steidley | Madison N Emas | Cynthia M. | CJ Gibson | Monica Kim | PC | Sebastian Crane | Nunez | Peaches | Robert Frederiksen | Kathy Farrell | E | Zachary "Pup GIR" Ledbetter | Faylan Arul | En | Kris Panchyk | aya | Spiderweb Powers | Aprillia Judokusumo | Tessa Sayre | Stacy Nguyen | Utsu | Ashlee Craft | J Levy | Aaren H | Akhila Sriram | Scar Lucas | Michelle Caldeira | Chris | Isaac Kruger | Alex Bee | Nick | Morgan Carlson | Timothy Meyer | Eric H | Richard Nenoff | Astral Octopus | JL Lee | Peter Wolfram-Aduan | Tyler Neil | Anna Narasimha | Chastity Senek | Heather Henning | Claire Donaldson | Jo Lucina | Tom Zurkan | TrialByMagicks | Nikki Maxbauer | Sydney Huffman | Christina | Christopher DeCicco | Sami | Henry Behrens | Moore | Julia Brown | Parker Morley | Nymeon | Olga Nikonova | Renee Kuwamoto | Erin Sutter | Kassie Metivier | Sair | Aline JM | Lauren Sparklepants | Sydney | Kari Dayton | Ellen Garcraw | Rebecca M. | Nicole Wright | Dre Lasana | Elias Jackson | Samuel Edwards | Ashlyn Borstel | Alex W. | Iris | Mira Martini | Anette Olney | Kimberly M. Lowe | Hadsvich | Griflet Rose | Fendrick & Peck | Minh Phuong | Emi Brawley | Leah Sauter | Avistew | Phipps | Sarah Mansour | Shannon | Amber G | Ashley Nunez | Steven Sparkman | James Schilling | Fiona | Jonay | Allison Carr | Maven | Robin Zantner | Jonathan Knell | Jing Jing | Emily Pitner | Victoria Correa | Christine M Husted | A | Erik Dutton | AJ Whidden | vergerin | Erin A Yarborough | Cash Orlin | Samson S | Philip Burston | Courtney M | Karen Goodwin | Keats E. | Heather Roemer | Velocity

Content & Accessibility


While appropriate for ages 12+ with adult guidance, BriarRose is a complex story geared toward adult audiences and deals with the following themes:

  • transphobia

  • homophobia

  • emotional abuse

  • implied physical/sexual abuse

  • mature language, including derogatory terms for women/sex workers

  • veiled sexual references


BriarRose utilizes fanciful, non-literal staging for all moments of violence:

  • a short swordfight sequence with wooden swords

  • fabric used to represent a small amount of blood from a cut

  • a "magical" death portrayed through lighting and sound effects

  • an animal dying via contact between an actor and a puppet (the puppeteer remains onstage, visibly unharmed)