Review: THE SPITFIRE GRILL at Broadway Rose

This lovely musical about resilience and renewal runs through June 23.

By: Jun. 06, 2024
Review: THE SPITFIRE GRILL at Broadway Rose
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THE SPITFIRE GRILL, currently running at Broadway Rose Theatre, could not have come at a better time, at least in my life. For my family and for many people I know, the first half of 2024 has been full of upheaval – layoffs, health issues, random life complications. So what a gift to have this lovely musical about resilience and renewal on stage right now.

The musical is very loosely based on the 1996 movie of the same name (warning for the movie purists – many plot points have been changed). Percy Talbott (played by Malia Tippets), a young woman getting out of prison, once saw a picture of the fall colors in Gilead, Wisconsin, in an old travel book and decides that’s where she’ll go to start a new life. But, upon arrival, she finds a has-been town devastated by closure of the local quarry. She’s taken in – not exactly willingly – by Hannah Ferguson (Sharon Maroney), the owner of the town’s only restaurant, The Spitfire Grill. The show is about forgiveness, community, the strength of the human spirit, and the power of dreaming big.

To start with, this production, directed by Abe Reybold, is perfectly cast from top to bottom. In a pretty big departure from the characters she usually plays, Tippets is wonderful as the surly, reserved, deeply wounded Percy. Danielle Valentine is also wonderful as Shelby Thorne, a townswoman who helps out at the grill – she has a gorgeous voice and this role showcases it perfectly. And Brian Kennedy as Caleb Thorne – holy moly! I would not have imagined I could be moved to tears by a song that, at least on the surface, is about working in a rock quarry, but there I was, blubbering away.

This is an emotional show to start with, and that emotion is heightened by the way Larry Larsen’s lighting design interacts with Bryan Boyd’s set. The technical aspects of the production are the best I’ve seen at Broadway Rose to date.

My only criticism is that I wish that Fred Alley had written a few more lyrics to go with James Valcq’s beautiful score. There was often so much repetition that I got pulled out of the story wondering why I was hearing the same thing again…and again. But the show is otherwise so good that I always got past it.

THE SPITFIRE GRILL runs through June 23. Details and tickets here.

Photo credit: Fletcher Wold


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