Things are Cookin’ at The Spitfire Grill

November 8th, 2007 by Adam

Join students from the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance at Plymouth State University November 15-18 as they perform the “country sound” musical, The Spitfire Grill.

According to guest director Neil Parkhurst (Winnipesaukee Playhouse), The Spitfire Grill has a very rare quality among musicals—it is really a play that happens to have songs.” There is no chorus, and there are no dance numbers, “the sung words come right out of the spoken ones,” Parkhurst said.

The plot revolves around Percy, a feisty parolee who follows her dreams and, based on a page from an old travel book, ends up in a small town in Wisconsin, working at Hannah’s Spitfire Grill. The restaurant is for sale, but there are no takers for the only eatery in the depressed town of Gilead, so the newcomer suggests that the owner raffle off the restaurant. Entry fees are $100 and an essay on why the prospective owner wants the restaurant. Soon, mail is arriving by the wheelbarrow full and things are definitely “cookin’” at the Spitfire Grill.

The cast includes theatre arts majors Tania Saunders’09 from Southboro, Mass., Pam Heintzeman’08 from Springfield, Vt., Erykah Skelly’08 from Hampstead, N.H., Lauren Burbank’09 from Bedford, N.H. and Ryan McCall’10 from Bedford; and music majors Daniel Brevik’10 from Holliston, Mass. And Daniel Hollander’09 from Chittentenden, Vt.

The show is much more powerful and dramatic than the vast majority of musicals, according to Parkhurst. “As an audience, you will be catapulted from one emotion to another as you connect with these characters and sense their frustrations, rejoice with their hopes of happiness, and suffer with them as dreams are destroyed,” said Parkhurst.

PSU Director of Theatre Elizabeth Cox said the department hasn’t done this type of musical in a while. “I think this type of work provides the performer with an additional genre of music. The music is quite lyrical and enjoyable. It is wonderful for the actor to allow the music to flow from the text.”

Performances are November 15–16 at 8 p.m., November 17 at 2 and 8 p.m. and November 18 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for youth and $5 for PSU students with I.D. at the Silver Center Box Office, (603) 535-ARTS or online

CurtainUp™ calls The Spitfire Grill an “affecting musical story telling with lyrics and spoken dialogue so seamlessly integrated that shortcomings don’t seem to matter. All the characters, even the nominal villain, are likeable, simple folks, and the actors portraying them act and sing with verve and depth. Spitfire is a slice of Americana, a modern folk tale.” [CurtainUp™]

Strong talent and an uplifting soundtrack make this a performance not to miss.