“The Spitfire Grill” at UW-WC Nov. 12-15

“Absolutely incredible”

Theatre Professor Brad Ford is delighted with his “very capable cast” for UW-Washington County’s upcoming fall musical, The Spitfire Grill. “Extremely talented” and “very professional” are adjectives Ford doesn’t hesitate to use in describing his seven cast members. The production marks his 27th season of directing theatre at the West Bend campus.  “Beautiful music in the hands of this very capable cast makes for an absolutely incredible sound,” Ford explained. In addition, “the theme is very uplifting – and the story has a positive happy ending.”

The Wisconsin based musical will be performed Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, November 12 - 14 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 15 at 1:30pm in the campus theatre, located on the second level of the campus at 400 University Drive, West Bend. Free parking is available.

The talented cast of seven includes Missy deIrueste, Cedarburg as Shelby; Philip Harrelson, West Bend as Caleb; Meaghan Morrissey, Milwaukee as Percy; Amy Winter, Milwaukee as Effy; and Deborah Woldanski, Slinger as Hannah along with two UW-WC students,  Andrew Helman, West Bend as the Visitor and Zachary Mellgren, West Bend as Joe.

Based on the award-winning film by Lee David Zlotoff, the script, music and lyrics were written by James Valcq and Fred Alley.  First produced on a New Jersey stage in 2000, it moved to Broadway in September 2001, playing only three performances before the 9-11 tragedy occurred and shut down most of New York theatre. Despite the tragedy, it lasted four weeks longer and has since been performed many times across the country, including Milwaukee’s Skylight Theatre, on whose ceiling is still the phrase, “to help us forget some things, remember others, and to refresh dry places in our spirit.”

Suitable for all ages, the touching and feel good story is also tough – focusing on relationships among the townsfolk in a small, fictional town - Gilead, Wisconsin and what happens as a result. Percy, the central character, is an ex-convict who has decided to start her life (after 5 years in prison) as a waitress in the town’s only rundown diner, The Spitfire Grill.  When Hannah, the crusty old owner and cook is injured, Percy helps out (even though her cooking leaves much to be desired). It is a story of hope for these women who somehow inspire each other and learn to live and love again and experience life to the fullest.

UW-WC Communications and Theatre Professor Brad Ford directs the two-act musical. He also created the set design. Assistant Directors are Haley Becker and Amanda Gresch. Stage manager is Ginger Starr and Lisa Rowe is Scenic Artist. Vocal music director is Deanna Gibeau and choreographer is Lisa Schnabel. Orchestra coordinator is Tom Utschig who also plays the drums. Other band members include Don Turner (accordian), Gregg Hughes (cello), Fred Pike (guitar) and Tammy Nordman (violin). The lighting operator is Katherine Smith. The production crew includes: Amirah Abulughod, John Hollingsworth, Kris Holly, Alan  Jung, Julie Mullen, Brytne Sprinkman, Alex Stafford, Samantha Starr and Jessie Wulf. 

For ticket sales and reservations, phone the main office at 262-335-5208 (Monday through Friday 8am-4:30pm).  Tickets are $12 adults and $9 for seniors (over 62) or youth (under 18). Half-price tickets are available on Thursday night.  UW-Washington County is located at 400 University Drive in West Bend. The theatre is located on the second floor. Free parking is available.


Sue Bausch