New Jersey Stage

Thursday, October 13, 2011

4th WALL OPENS 15TH SEASON WITH THE SPITFIRE GRILL

(Bloomfield, NJ) –- 4TH WALL THEATRE opens its 15th anniversary season with The Spitfire Grill.  This charming musical is based on the 1996 film of the same name by Lee David Zlotoff and boasts music and book by James Valcq and lyrics and book by Fred Alley.  It was nominated as best musical for both the 2002 Outer Critics Circle Award and the Drama League Award.  John Simon of New York Magazine declared it the "best musical of 2001."  In his review of the show Mr. Simon noted "It is not often that material moves me to tears, but this was one of those occasions."

Featuring an outstanding company of performers, the 4th Wall cast includes Alexis Field, Katie Bland and Kurt Robinson of New York, Jodi Freeman Maloy of Cedar Grove, Danny Arnold of Bayonne and Christine Orzepowski of Bloomfield.

4th Wall Artistic Director, Kate Swan, of Teaneck, directs.  She is joined by Markus Hauck, of New York City, who serves as the musical director.  Gwen Ricks-Spencer, formerly of Montclair, is the Production Manager and Martha Thalheimer of Glen Ridge serves as the Stage Manager.

Set in Wisconsin in the last decade of the 20th century, The Spitfire Grill details the story of a young woman who is released from prison and decides to start a new life in the small town of Gilead.  She finds a place for herself working at the Spitfire Grill.  But she – and the town – has old wounds that need healing, and it takes an unusual contest to pull everyone together to learn from one another and about themselves.  The show is a tuneful and stirring tribute to small-town life, and offers a charming and honest tale of hope and redemption.

Of The Spitfire Grill, Kate Swan says, "This is an intimate musical about how one small shift in perspective can create big changes in people's lives and hearts.  Each of the seven characters in the story has had a tough life, but with the arrival of Percy in their tiny town of Gilead, Wisconsin, they listen and learn and experience hope and redemption.  The joy in the music and the hope in the lyrics are infectious."

Writers Valcq and Alley met at music camp while in high school and after writing another musical for the American Folklore Theatre, they decided to create a piece of populist theatre with elements of myth and folktale.  After viewing the film The Spitfire Grill, they settled on musicalizing this work.   The show received its world premier at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse.  "David Saint and George Street have really been on the cutting edge of presenting new and exciting theatre works," says 4th Wall Executive Director Gwen Ricks-Spencer.  "We are doubly pleased to present such a great piece, which received its legs right here in New Jersey.  This musical makes for a great date night, or an evening out with friends.  I think everyone will be touched by the story."

The Spitfire Grill will play at the Westminster Center for the Arts on the campus of Bloomfield College in Bloomfield and runs October 14, 15, 20, 21, 22 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday October 23 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are only $24 with discount tickets available for students and seniors.  Tickets may be purchased by calling 973-748-9008 ext. 279. Visa, MasterCard and Discover are accepted.  Tickets may also be purchased on-line and additional information is available at www.4thwalltheatre.org