Firebird is a national-award-winning theater company producing youth-led art in the heart of New York City

In the Spring of 2013, Firebird Youth Theater made their debut as the first independent youth-lead theater company in our community, with their first off-Broadway production: Down the Chocolate River and Beyondbased on a beloved chocolate fairy tale by Roald Dahl. The show was adored by audiences of all ages, and sold out a five-show run.

Since 2013, Firebird has produced nine more off-Broadway shows, 

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Treasure Island, Romeo + Juliet, Our Town, R.U.R., and The Tempest all received numerous awards and nominations from National Youth Arts, and were reported on by Huffington Post and TDF Magazine.

Photo by Katherine Bourbeau

Photo by Katherine Bourbeau

Our Team


Leo Lion
Founder, Artistic Director

Leo is a NYC-based storyteller, educator, and community organizer.

Since he founded the company in 2013, he’s directed ten Firebird productions: 
Down the Chocolate River and BeyondExpressoAlice’s Adventures in WonderlandTreasure Island, Romeo+Juliet, Our Town, R.U.R., The Tempest, Julius Caesar, and An Enemy of the People. He also serves as an Associate Artistic Director at Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, and is a five-time recipient of the Outstanding Direction Award from National Youth Arts. His acting credits include work with Different Directions, Wingspan Arts, Theatre of the Apes, and Firebird. His plays have been produced by Firebird, Downtown Art, and Writopia Lab’s Worldwide Plays Festival.

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TEAM Headshot Thomas

Thomas Manfred Pflanz
Resident Production Stage Manager

Thomas has stage managed every Firebird production since 2014, after joining the company as a stage hand and prop master in their first show. Other tech credits include work as a Venue Production Assistant in the 2015 NY International Fringe Festival, and continued lighting design/operation. Thomas’s most recent projects include Theater of the Apes’ 2017 Repertory Season and Tales of Neverland, an original adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy, written by himself and Tinamarie Panyard. A techie by trade, he also acts when the occasion presents itself. Follow Thomas on Twitter, and stay up to date with his current and future projects: @Thomas_Pflanz

TEAM Headshot Zoe

Zoe Senese-Grossberg
Literary Director, Resident Dramaturge

Zoe is a dramaturge who has been with Firebird since 2016. She dramaturged Firebird's productions of Romeo + Juliet and Our Town, and assistant directed the 2018 Summer of Power (R.U.R/The Tempest) and An Enemy of the People (2019). She is studying direction and playwriting at Oberlin College and has worked as an assistant stage manager and intern for The Workshop Theater and Brooklyn Children's Theater. Directing Credits: Twelve Ophelias by Caridad Svich at Oberlin, Inertia by Owen Gifford Smith, Not Not Not Not Not Enough Oxygen by Carol Churchill, A.D. for Hamlet, all at the Powerhouse Theater Training Company where she was a directing apprentice in 2017. She is also a playwright, and recently had her play Etz Hayim read with MTC's WriteNow program. Reach Zoe at