“The Spitfire Grill” with Music and Book by James Valcq and Lyrics and Book by Fred Alley, based on the film by Lee David Zlotoff, produced by Dean Fiala and directed by Terri Magers with Musical Direction by Arielle Bayer is presently playing at the Rockville Little Theatre, at the Arts Barn in Gaithersburg, Maryland through March 22, 2020.
The musical opened Off-Broadway in 2001. It received rave reviews from the New York Times and won the Richard Rogers Production Award. Critic John Simon wrote, “It is not often that material moves me to tears, but this was one of those occasions….” (Perhaps it did not get the attention it deserved, because it opened right before 9-11.)
The plot centers around a parolee who follows her dreams to a small Wisconsin town and gets a job at Hannah’s Spitfire Grill. The restaurant is for sale but due to the economic depression of the town, there are no buyers. So, the parolee, Percy Talbot, suggests that owner, Hannah Ferguson raffle the business off with entry fees of only $100. Mail comes pouring in and things start brewing a Hannah’s.
The cast includes Jessica Graber, Liz Weber, Alexandra Guyker, Mark Steimer, Sean Byrne, Talia Segal and Michael Reid. David Jones is Set Designer, Elly Makowski is Sound Designer, Kali Munro is Lighting Designer, and Meghan Edge is Costume Designer.
I had a chance to chat with Alexandra Guyker who plays Shelby Thorpe in “The Spitfire Grill.”
Bio: Alex is excited to be back with Rockville Little Theatre again after appearing in “Almost, Maine” and as Louise in Steve Martin’s “The Underpants”. Other favorite past roles have included “Little Red in Into the Woods,” Diana in “Next to Normal,” and Cathy in “The Last Five Years.” She has her Masters in Acting from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory, and a
Bachelor’s in Musical Theatre from Niagara University.
- Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
My parents lived in the Kentland for years. So, it’s always great to come back “home” for shows here. I got my Masters in Acting from the FSU/Asolo Conservatory, and BFA in Musical Theatre from Niagara University. I’ll be taking a bit of a theater break in September to get married, so you can find me under “Alexandra Greenberg” after that!
- Can you tell our readers a little bit about your role, Shelby Thorpe in “Spitfire Grill” and how you are like the character or not like her, e.g. do you like to cook?
Shelby is a housewife that starts working at the Spitfire Grill, and on the way learns to take pride in her skills, speak up for herself, and make true friendships with her coworkers. My homework was to learn how to “actually bake” well enough to make it look believable from stage.
- What role did you most enjoy playing before Shelby?
Favorite past roles I’ve worked on have included Diana in “Next to Normal,” Cathy in “The Last 5 Years,” and Louise in “The Underpants.” Little Red in “Into the Woods” was also a blast – I got to eat cookies on stage!
- Are you involved in any upcoming shows?
My next show will be as Shirley in “Disaster!” at Way Off Broadway. For the last three years, I have been doing plays, so it’s nice to be getting back into musicals again.
- How would you describe the show, without giving away too much of the plot?
“Spitfire Grill” tackles a lot of themes – letting hope and forgiveness in, building a community, and overcoming bias to find acceptance. Even though it’s “technically” a musical, the naturalistic way the show is written really moves the story along in a realistic way. The audience gets to watch as the characters grow, and the town of Gilead is revitalized before their eyes.
“The Spitfire Grill” by Rockville Little Theatre will be playing weekends until March 22, 2020, at the Arts Barn, 311 Kent Square Road, Gaithersburg MD 20878. For information on this show and upcoming shows go to their website. Go to this link for tickets online.
Please note: Many theatres are responding to the Covid-19 virus. Please check with the theatre for any changes in schedule.