By Patrick Lynn
A heart-warming musical set in a small Wisconsin town is hitting the stage next month at UWSP.
The Department of Theatre and Dance will feature “The Spitfire Grill” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 11-12, and Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 16-19 in the Studio Theatre in the Noel Fine Arts Center, 1800 Portage St.
Matinee shows will be performed at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 12-13, and Saturday, Oct. 19.
The musical uses the same characters as the 1996 film but makes some changes to the plot, in addition to adding a folk, bluegrass and pop soundtrack that even includes a polka band.
The main character, a female parolee named Percy, finds a job in a diner in the fictional Wisconsin town of Gilead with hopes of starting over. While helping revive the grill through an essay contest, she establishes close relationships with the diner’s owner, Hannah, and a waitress named Shelby. These three women find strength, support, and healing in each other, which in turn helps bring the small town back to life.
“This is an emotional, touching show that deals realistically with tough issues such as abuse, post-traumatic stress and marriage difficulties,” said Mark Hanson, an associate professor of musical theatre and the show’s director. “This stranger comes to town and transforms it, and helps people see hope and change through small gestures.”
The play will connect with audience members in several ways, said Hanson. Set in the Midwest, it has familiar characters. It is also being staged in the smaller Studio Theatre with only seven cast members, giving the audience a more intimate setting and making it easy for them to build likeability and empathy with each role.
Tickets are $26 for adults, $23 for seniors and $16 for age 17 and under at the UW-Stevens Point Information and Tickets Office in the Dreyfus University Center concourse, by calling 715-346-4100 or at http://tickets.uwsp.edu.
Discounts are available for UW-Stevens Point students, faculty and staff.
Tickets are also available for the First Nighters package Friday, Oct. 11, which includes dinner before the performance (www.uwsp.edu/theatre-dance/Pages/First-Nighters.aspx).