REVIEW: "The Spitfire Grill" at North Coast Rep
This Musical Sings a Compassionate Story of Hope and Forgiveness
The Spitfire Grill at North Coast Repertory Theatre
Photos by Aaron Rumley
It all starts with a new girl in town. The Spitfire Grill, a new musical at North Coast Repertory Theatre is no different. The musical comes from a book by Fred Alley (whose story is based on a 1986 film directed by Lee David Zlotoff). Alley also wrote the lyrics, while James Valcq composed the music. Directed by Jeffrey B. Moss, the play, which features a solid cast and musicians, has two acts presenting 16 song titles that illustrate each passage of the story in pristine musical harmony. The minimal set of an old town diner is essential as it brings focus to the talents on stage.
The story revolves around the pursuit of home. Fresh out of prison, Percy (Aurora Florence) is looking for a new place to settle, like the one she saw in a picture in the pages of an old book, a place where the colors of autumn in the wild woods radiate hope for her future. This place is the small town of Gilead, Wisconsin. As soon as she arrives in town, her parole officer Joe (Kevin Earley) takes care of her stay and arranges a job for her at the Spitfire Grill, the only diner in town, whose owner Hannah (Devlin) is a widow taken by grief for her missing son. Soon, Percy becomes the new object of gossip around town, but her past still remains a mystery.
Aurora Florence gives a brilliant performance as Percy, finding a perfect balance between toughness and femininity. Percy refers to herself as a 'wild bird,' though her delicacy is found in her beautiful voice. Moreover, every actor meticulously embodies their respective roles, and as the play follows its course, the somewhat typical characters of a small town begin to sparkle the audience's curiosity for their secrets. Percy's arrival unravels deep feelings and memories from the past, and each character has a story to tell that involves pain, loss, or disappointment––however, with every one of them, there is a lesson to be learned.
As the story unfolds, the community of Gilead realizes that this small town needs Percy more than anything else, and like a missing puzzle piece she unites the community. While the story might have a predictable ending, it seeks to highlight the subtle line between friendship and family. The play also brings to surface sorrows and a good dose of humor.
The North Coast Repertory Theatre's production of The Spitfire Grill (directed by Jeffrey Moss) runs through July 2nd. Tickets are available now at the North Coast Repertory Theatre's website.
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