The Tattooed Lady

Ellie Heyman- Director (she/her/hers)
Jeffrey Page- Choreographer (he/him/his)
Max Vernon- Composer, Lyricist and Co-Librettist
Erin Courtney- Co-Librettist (she/her/hers)

1st Rehearsal, on or about 9/20/22 or 9/27/22
Tech, on or about 10/20/22
1st Preview, on or about 10/28/22
Opening Night, on or about 11/2/22
Closing Night, on or about 11/20/22

The design and music teams are currently being assembled and we will post the team members on our website as those positions are filled.


The Tattooed Lady, a developing new musical from Max Vernon (composer/lyricist of Broadway bound KPOP) and Erin Courtney (Obie-award winning playwright of Map of Virtue) and directed by and developed with Ellie Heyman (Drama League Award Winner for The Great Work Begins, featuring Glenn Close), was awarded the prestigious Pew Center for Arts & Heritage Project Grant for 2020.

The story of The Tattooed Lady highlights one of sideshow’s biggest stars, Ida Gibson, in a moving, fantastical tale that reveals the ultimate bond between mother and daughter. Featuring a parade of beguiling characters with both visible and invisible marks, the musical celebrates the resilience of women whose choices have the potential to liberate them. The Tattooed Lady is a musical meditation on beauty, perversity, shattering of taboos, and a woman’s right to control her body and choose her destiny.

AUTHORS NOTE: In 1880, tattoos were wildly taboo, shockingly provocative, and rare.

TIME & PLACE: Show starts in 1980, in the living room of Ida’s suburban tract home. Throughout the rest of the piece, Tattooed Lady spirits take Ida Gibson on a journey through one hundred years of Side Show history (1880-1980).


IDA GIBSON– Principal; Born 1905 – a retired Tattooed Lady, living in the suburbs in 1980. Fearful, bitter, resigned. Has hidden her past as a side show performer from her daughter, JOY.

IMAGENA GIBSON– Principal; Born 1905 – Tattooed Lady. The younger version of IDA. She is folksy, wide-eyed, adventurous.

JOY GIBSON– Principal; Born 1935 – IDA’s forty-five-year-old daughter, who knows nothing about her mother’s past as a Tattooed Lady.

NORA HILDEBRANDT– Principal; Born 1860 – Claimed to be the “first” American Tattooed Lady. Diva, Brash, brave, working class, strong, refuses to take no for an answer. (Doubles as Customer 2, Sister Lucretia, Man in Crowd 2)

MAUD WAGNER– Principal; Born 1877 – Tattooed Lady and first female, American tattoo artist. Bewitching, Avant-Garde, Dramatic, Art for art’s sake. (Doubles as Beautiful Man, Audience 2, Sister Agnes, Woman in Crowd)

LA BELLE IRENE– Principal; Born 1865 – Nora’s primary rival. Considered to be the most beautiful Tattooed Lady. Also Diva, Pampered, Icy, high-status. Also plays MARTIN HILDEBRANDT, who is a blunt, swindling, tattoo artist. (Also Sister Philomena, Woman in Crowd 2)

JEAN CARROLL– Principal; Born 1904 – Tattooed Lady and a bearded lady. Constantly in pain, and would like more breaks. Also plays GUS, husband of MAUD WAGNER, NORA’s MOM and BEARDED LADY. (Audience 1, Imagena’s Dad, Man in Crowd 1)

LADY VIOLA- Principal; Born 1898 – Tattooed Lady. Very passionate about the slide whistle. Whimsical, ridiculous, absurd. Also plays YOUNG JOY & SKELETON MAN. (Also Banker, Talker, Audience 4, Customer 3, Sister Clotilde, Little Girl)

TRIXIE RICHARDSON– Principal; Born 1920 – Androgynous, pansexual tap dancing Beatnick Tattooed lady. Also plays EDDIE GIBSON husband of IDA, ST. SEBASTIAN. (Boss, Old Man, Audience 3, Customer 1)

BOB BAXTER–  Principal; Born 1901 – Creator of the Bizarre Bazaar, a side show company that employed IMAGENA back in the 20’s, and is on its last legs in 1980. Borscht-belt showbiz, Vaudeville, Razzle dazzle, charming with depth.

Also approximately 30 other characters played by various tattooed ladies at different times.



Actors local to the Philadelphia area are encouraged to submit. We anticipate that this production will require all personnel to be vaccinated and will comply with all Equity rules regarding medical and religious exemptions.

Please record a 1-minute video submission of either a pop/rock/soul song of your choice OR “Waste of Ink” from The Tattooed Lady. If choosing your own song, please choose a piece that shows vocal range and facility. If you are choosing to sing the song from The Tattooed Lady, please start at measure 24 and end on measure 39. In the demo, it would be from 1:10-1:53; lyrically it starts at “No more anchors” and ends on “anything else is a waste of ih ih ih ink.”

To find the music please visit this link: Please also prepare one (1) short contemporary or contemporary comedic monologue. The total audition should not exceed 3 minutes. Please slate your name, pronouns, and the name of your audition pieces before starting your monologue.

E-mail a link of your audition (Vimeo or unlisted YouTube), along with your headshot and resume (PDF) with the subject line: The Tattooed Lady– Your Name. Deadline: January 18, 12:00 pm ET. PLEASE BE SURE YOUR NAME IS INCLUDED IN THE FILE NAME OF YOUR PHOTOS AND RESUMES. If you need any help creating a video submission, you can find some helpful tips on our website:

Personnel reviewing auditions:
Paige Price- Producing Artistic Director
Allison Fifield- Artistic Programs and Events Manager (she/her/hers)
Angel Chasco- Artistic Assistant (he/him/his)

Ellie Heyman- Director (she/her/hers)
Max Vernon- Composer and Co-Librettist
Erin Courtney- Co-Librettist (she/her/hers)

Deadline: 01/18/2022


Philadelphia Theatre Company is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages actors of all backgrounds and abilities to audition. Equity’s contracts prohibit discrimination. Equity is committed to diversity and encourages all its employers to engage in a policy of equal employment opportunity designed to promote a positive model of inclusion. As such, Equity encourages performers of all ethnicities, gender identities, and ages, as well as performers with disabilities, to submit.

This video outlines gear suggestions for an inexpensive, mid-range, and high-end self tape setup, if you need assistance creating self tape videos.

For additional questions please contact Allison Fifield (