Musical (2001)

Musique: James Valcq
Paroles: Fred Alley
Livret: Fred Alley • James Valcq
Production à la création:

Since it opened Off-Broadway in 2001 at Playwrights Horizons, The Spitfire Grill has become one of the most often-produced new American musicals. All across the United States, from Canada to the Caribbean, from Korea to Germany, from the UK to Japan, The Spitfire Grill has had more than 500 productions. Based on the award-winning film by Lee David Zlotoff, the musical depicts the journey of a young woman just released from prison who decides to start her life anew in a rural Wisconsin town. She precipitates a journey within the town itself toward its own tenuous reawakening. The folk and bluegrass tinged score is unlike that for any other musical.

Follows recently paroled convict Percy Talbott, who is looking for somewhere to start over, and rural Gilead, Wisconsin, seems just the place. She takes a job at the Spitfire Grill, a crumbling diner where the townsfolk congregate and gossip, run by a feisty widow named Hannah. Hannah has been trying to sell the diner to escape from the painful memories it holds, but the property has been on the market for a decade with no takers. Soon, Percy hatches a plan to hold a raffle for ownership of the Spitfire Grill—for one hundred dollars and an essay about why they might want the Grill, anyone can enter the contest. As the seasons change and rumours about her past build, the contest entries begin to roll in, and Percy starts to realize that she's not the only person in Gilead with a history.

Act I
Rural Wisconsin. February. A young woman named Percy Talbott (originally played by Garrett Long) gazes out the window of her prison cell. She’s about to be released. In her pocket is a photograph clipped from a travel book. The caption reads, “Autumn colors along Copper Creek near Gilead, Wisconsin”. ("A Ring Around the Moon") Arriving in Gilead, Percy reports to the local Sheriff, Joe Sutter (originally played by Steven Pasquale). He leads her through the deserted streets to a ramshackle diner called the Spitfire Grill, run by a crusty old widow, Hannah Ferguson (originally played by Phyllis Somerville), who has a bad hip and sharp tongue. Joe persuades Hannah to take Percy on board and give her work as a waitress.
Percy sets to work in a swirl of small town suspicions led by Effy (originally played by Mary Gordon Murray), the postmistress who’s also village busybody. ("Something’s Cooking at the Spitfire Grill") In the face of all the gossip and Hannah’s constant haranguing, Percy begins to wonder whether she made a mistake in coming to Gilead. ("Coffee Cups and Gossip") Her thoughts are interrupted by a cry from Hannah, who has tripped on the stairs and broken her leg. Against the better wishes of her fiercely protective nephew Caleb (originally played by Armand Schultz), Hannah has Percy take over the Spitfire. But when it comes to cooking, Percy is clueless. ("Into the Frying Pan") That night, without explaining why, Hannah reluctantly asks Percy to wrap a towel around a loaf of bread and to leave it near the old stump out back of the Grill.
Percy is joined at the Spitfire by Caleb’s wife Shelby (originally played by Liz Callaway), an excellent cook. In the heat of the kitchen the two women are drawn together. Shelby tells Percy about Hannah and Gilead’s past – the day her childhood hero went off to war and her hometown changed forever. ("When Hope Goes")
Wanting to escape painful memories, Hannah has had the Grill on the real estate market for ten years with no takers. In a moment of inspiration, Percy proposes a way for Hannah to get rid of the Spitfire and make some money at the same time: a raffle. For a hundred dollars and an essay about why they might want the Grill, anyone can enter. At first Hannah resists, but slowly, something about the craziness of the idea convinces her that it just might work. As the rest of the town watches the long Wisconsin winter stubbornly give way to spring ("Ice and Snow"), the women at the Spitfire plan the details of the contest. Percy and Shelby share a vision of life as they wish it were while writing the advertisement for the raffle. ("The Colors of Paradise")
Caleb spots the contest ads as they begin to appear in out-of-town papers. Without a decent job since the local quarry closed, Caleb has been left trying to sell real estate that no one wants. His frustration turns against a world where it is no longer enough to be a hard-working man. ("Digging Stone")
During a parole session with Sheriff Joe Sutter, Percy tells something of her bleak past growing up in the West Virginia coal mines. Joe in turn spills out his dissatisfaction with life in Gilead. ("This Wide Woods")
As summer approaches, the very first raffle entry arrives in the mail, complete with a hundred dollars and a rather depressing essay which stirs up some of Hannah’s old wounds. ("Forgotten Lullaby") That night, while placing the usual loaf of bread out back, Percy encounters a silent visitor (originally played by Stephen Sinclair). She attempts to make conversation but the mysterious man merely takes the bread and flees. Weeks go by and essays begin to pour into the Grill from far and wide. ("Shoot the Moon")

Act II
Hannah, Percy and Shelby sit in the Grill after hours, reading essays and drinking from a jug of Hannah’s infamous applejack. As they read the letters, some funny, some sad, Hannah expresses her appreciation for what Percy and Shelby have done. ("Come Alive Again") Before long it seems everyone in town is helping Hannah to sift through the letters, and a magical shift occurs not only at the Spitfire, but throughout Gilead as well.
Late one October night on the back porch, Joe tells Percy that he no longer wants to leave Gilead. He plans to build a house on a plot of land his father has given to him. ("Forest For the Trees") Deeply troubled, Percy abruptly rejects Joe’s proposal of marriage and confides to Shelby the harsh details of her life. Impregnated by her stepfather when she was 16, Percy suffered untold abuse resulting in the loss of her unborn child. While on the run, she killed her stepfather with his own straight razor. Shelby comforts Percy and gently sings her to sleep. ("Wild Bird")
When Percy awakens, she sees the mysterious visitor and at last realizes he is none other than Eli, Hannah’s own son. Eli leads Percy deep into the forest and then to a clearing atop a hill. The leaves have turned to autumn colors and as the sun rises, they burn like flame. ("Shine")
Transformed by her hilltop vision, Percy leads Eli back to the Grill to re-unite him with Hannah after so many years. In a painful confrontation, Shelby and Caleb recognize Eli and react with such shock at his battered appearance and broken demeanor that Eli flees. Hannah finally admits that Eli had been a deserter in the Vietnam war. The shame of it killed her husband. And though Hannah has taken care of Eli’s basic needs, she has kept his presence in the woods a secret from the entire town. Percy pleads with Hannah to express her forgiveness to Eli. Day passes into night and Hannah calls out to her son. ("Way Back Home") Out of the shadows, Eli appears in the Grill once more. Hannah reaches out her hand to welcome him home.
On the last day of the contest, everybody reads their favorite essay. Finally Hannah reads the words that have touched her the most: the ad describing the Grill, written by Percy and Shelby. In gratitude for their role in re-uniting mother and son, while admitting she’s not offering much in return, Hannah turns over the Grill to Percy and Shelby. ("Finale")

Authors James Valcq and Fred Alley had been friends since high school music camp in 1980, but it wasn’t until 1994 that they collaborated on The Passage for Alley’s American Folklore Theatre in Wisconsin. New York-based Valcq was seeking a follow-up project for the pair after his Zombies from The Beyond closed Off-Broadway in 1995. They wanted to create a piece of populist theatre with elements of myth and folktale. Upon seeing the film The Spitfire Grill, they had found their vehicle. Actual writing of the musical commenced in October 1999.

A demo tape of a few songs from the score found its way to David Saint, Artistic Director of the George Street Playhouse in New Jersey. The theatre presented a workshop of the show in June, 2000 featuring Helen Gallagher as Hannah, and produced the world premiere production in November 2000 featuring Beth Fowler as Hannah. Throughout the process, Arthur Laurents mentored the creative team, encouraging them to find their own emotional truth in the material. The ending of the musical is entirely different from the ending of the film.

Ira Weitzman, Associate Producer of musicals at Playwrights Horizons, and Tim Sanford, the Artistic Director, saw the George Street production and announced that The Spitfire Grill would open the 2000-2001 season at Playwrights Horizons after a May workshop. Tragically, one week before the workshop, Alley suffered a fatal heart attack while jogging in the woods near his Wisconsin home. He died at the age of 38.

Two weeks later, The Spitfire Grill was presented with the Richard Rodgers Production Award [1]. Stephen Sondheim chairs the committee that chose the The Spitfire Grill as the winner. The remainder of the group comprised Lynn Ahrens, Jack Beeson, John Guare, Sheldon Harnick, R. W. B. Lewis, Richard Maltby, Jr., and Robert Ward.

The Off-Broadway production featured Phyllis Somerville as Hannah, Garrett Long as Percy, and Liz Callaway as Shelby. It was directed by David Saint. The show received Best Musical nominations from the Outer Critics Circle and Drama League, as well as Drama Desk nominations for Garrett Long as Outstanding Actress in a Musical and Liz Callaway as Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical.

Since the Playwrights Horizons production, The Spitfire Grill has been produced almost 500 times worldwide in regional theatres, festivals, stock, community and school productions. Foreign language versions have been produced in Germany in 2005, in South Korea in 2007, and in Japan in 2009. Notable American versions include a co-production by American Folklore Theatre (co-founded by Fred Alley) and Skylight Opera Theatre (2002) which featured Phyllis Somerville as Hannah, the West Coast premiere at Laguna Playhouse (2002) which won the OC Award for Best Musical, and the Idaho Shakespeare Festival production in 2006 which was conducted by James Valcq. The musical had its UK premiere at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe in a production by the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and its Australian premiere in July 2010 by The Margaret River Theatre Group.

In 2011, American Folklore Theatre produced a 10th Anniversary production which was directed by the composer.

The show premiered in Singapore at the Creative Cube in September 2012. The musical was performed by LASALLE College of the Arts with direction by Tony Knight and musical direction by Ben Kiley. The cast consisted of Erin Clare (Percy Talbott), Alison Eaton (Hannah Ferguson), Timothy Langan (Joe Sutter), Kelly White (Shelby), Emma Etherington (Effy), Vanessa Powell (Caleb) and Brett Khaou (Eli). [1]

The show will receive its London Premiere at The Union Theatre, Southwark in a production starring Belinda Wollaston as Percy Talbott and directed by Alastair Knights in July 2015.

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Spitfire Grill (The)

Aucun dossier informatif complémentaire concernant Spitfire Grill (The)

Version 1

Spitfire Grill (The) (2015-07-Union Theatre-London)

Type de série: Original London
Théâtre: Union Theatre (Londres - Angleterre)
Durée : 3 semaines
Nombre :
Première Preview : 23 July 2015
Première: 24 July 2015
Dernière: 15 August 2015
Mise en scène : Alastair Knights
Chorégraphie :
Producteur :
Star(s) :
Avec: Belinda Wollaston, Hilary Harwood, Natalie Law, Katie Brennan, Hans Rye, Chris Kiely and Andrew Borthwick

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