“The Spitfire Grill”
Music and Book by James Valcq
Lyrics and Book by Fred Alley
Based on the film by Lee David Zlotoff
Directed by Dimitri Toscas
Garry Marshall Theatre presents the off Broadway musical “The Spitfire Grill,” one of the most popular recent musicals with more than 600 productions worldwide, including in Germany, South Korea, Japan, Australia and London.
The winner of the 2001 Richard Rodgers Production Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (Stephen Sondheim, chair), ”The Spitfire Grill” has music and book by James Valcq – who is currently artistic director of Third Avenue Playhouse, the regional theatre of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and has lyrics and book by the late Fred Alley. It also received Best Musical nominations from the New York Outer Critics Circle and Drama League as well as two Drama Desk nominations.
“The Spitfire Grill” is based on the film by Lee David Zlotoff, which won the 1996 audience award at Sundance. Garry Marshall Theatre’s artistic director Dimitri Toscas directs this new production. There are 25 performances only, July 10 to August 11 (the press opening is July 12).
The cast includes Ashley Argota, Nicu Brouillette, Rachel Sarah Mount, Joey Ruggiero, Sarah Saviano, Erich Schroeder and Diane King Vann.
“The Spitfire Grill” takes place in Gilead, Wisconsin – a bucolic place for those who have dreamed of a town so small they roll the sidewalk up at night; a place where you can walk a hundred miles and leave the trees. At least that is how it seems when Percy, a feisty parolee following her dreams, arrives. She based her living there on a page from an old travel book, as she stumbled into Hannah’s Spitfire Grill.
The Grill, the only eatery in this quiet town, is for sale but there are no takers; so newcomer Percy suggests to Hannah that she raffle it off. Entry fees are one hundred dollars and the best essay on why you want the grill wins. Soon, mail is arriving by the wheelbarrow full and things are definitely cookin' at “The Spitfire Grill”.
This stirring musical erupts when Hannah's troubled past is confronted with Percy's struggle to start again, making everyone’s life in this small town anything but quiet. A searching wife, a mysterious vagrant, a gentle sheriff, a brutish husband, and an irritatingly irresistible busybody collide in a musical that bubbles over with toe-tapping fun and soaring, heartfelt melodies accompanied by mandolin, accordion, guitar, violin, and cello – and the musicians step forward to play many of the characters.
“In our new production of this beloved musical, we visit an America that never was – but somehow we always hoped it would be, an optimistic story of the American Dream,” said director Toscas. “This show taps into a nostalgia that feels familiar, like a place where we thought we lived, yet feels hopeful and new at the same time. The place we’ve yet to find; the place where our children will belong: some kind of proof that a new beginning could be as close as your back porch.”
Alvin Klein in The New York Times called ”The Spitfire Grill” "Soul satisfying ... a compelling story that flows with grace and carries the rush of anticipation. In the stage version, [composer and librettist] Valeq and Alley make it clear that rebirth is not a matter of ritual but is instead a matter of human connection. That is one of the bountiful things that lifts the musical from its first impression as a homespun folk tale, with a dark side just around the bend, to a complete work of theatrical resourcefulness … the story is all about is a belief system rooted in earthly caring …"
Klein continued, “The warm, indigenous American folk sound of Mr. Valeq's score is, harmonically and melodically, as theatrical as it is grassroots. ”The Spitfire Grill” is penetrated by honesty and it glows.”
Billboard said, “like a breath of fresh country … In a genre known for being big and brassy, it's always a pleasure to come across a musical that revels in its quiet moments. This elegy to a once-vibrant community is extremely powerful.”
New York Magazine called it "soulful ...the amiable country flavored tunes and lyrics are rendered with the kind of conviction and expertise that make them transcendent. What in normal times would be a joy is, in these troubled ones, sheer nourishment." USA Today said, “An abundance of warmth, spirit and goodwill!” and The Wall Street Journal said, “Well before the show reaches its conclusion, many … in the audience may be ready to enter Percy's raffle."
Dates: July 10 to August 11, 2019 (Press Opening Friday, July 12)
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays at 8pm; Sundays at 3 pm.
No performance Wednesday, July 24 or Wednesday, July 31
Additional performances Saturday, July 27 at 2:00pm and Sunday, August 4 at 7:30pm
Tickets: Prices $25 to $65
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