Springfield Contemporary Theatre presents the tender, funny and uplifting musical "The Spitfire Grill" at SCT Center Stage in the Wilhoit Building (corner of Pershing and Robberson) July 11-27 at 7:30pm Friday and Saturday evenings, and Sundays July 13, 20 & 27 all at 2:00pm. Based on the film by Lee David Zlotoff. KSMU’s Randy Stewart interviewed the director, Gretchen Teague, and one of the actors, Tim Caldwell, from the new production, live on KSMU’s “Arts News” program Friday July 11. It’s the story of Percy Talbott, a young woman with what’s called an “uncertain” past, who moves to the tiny Wisconsin town of Gilead. The town got bypassed by the new highway a number of years ago, and as Gretchen Teague says, “the town is kind of falling apart.” Percy moves there to “make a fresh start” and takes a job at the town’s only eatery, the Spitfire Grill. She soon devises a scheme to breathe life into the dying backwater area—but encounters a lot of resistance.
Tim Caldwell plays Caleb, onetime foreman at the local quarry—which, like most Gilead businesses, has closed. He’s “now trying to sell real estate, but no one wants to live in this town!” Caleb finds himself “always trying to live up to a standard that’s impossible to achieve... so I’m very ‘joyful’ to be around... that’ s sarcasm!” Tim says the town’s residents in general are all “scrambling to try to survive... and so when this fresh blood comes into town—and just the idea that she comes in with the concept of HOPE, there’s something to hope for—really undermines this holding pattern everyone’s in.” Gretchen says “they don’t know what to do with someone who loves the town... they just don’t see the beauty that she sees.” It’s going to take more than good will for Percy to turn things around in Gilead, a town still haunted by tragedies from the past.
The stage musical is only loosely based on the film of the same name from the 1990s. Gretchen Teague calls it a “spectacular film,” and if you’ve seen it “you might understand some of the characters in a little bit more depth... but if you haven’t seen it, it is quite a bit different.”
As for the music in the stage version, Gretchen says “it has a little bluegrass, a little folk music, rock... and the cast belts it out for sure! It’s kind of a ‘Midwestern’ sound. But the score is very compelling—it’s fun to listen to.”
For ticket information call 831-8001 or visit www.springfieldcontemporarytheatre.org.