THE SPITFIRE GRILL

Music and Book by James Valcq
Lyrics and Book by Fred Alley
Based on the Film by Lee David Zlotoff

Directed by Nicholas Vargas ’10
Music Direction by Jonathan Goldberg

Inspired by a page from an old travel book, vibrant parolee, Percy, follows her dreams to a small town in Wisconsin where she finds a place for herself working at Hannah’s Spitfire Grill. The Grill is for sale, but there are no takers, so newcomer Percy convinces Hannah to raffle it off. 

October 13–16, 2022
Robert J. Orchard Stage (Paramount Center) 

All performances open to the public

Playwrights Horizons, Inc., New York City, produced the New York Premiere of The Spitfire Grill Off-Broadway in 2001.
The Spitfire Grill received its World Premiere production by the George Street Playhouse, November 5, 2000, David Saint, Artistic Director, Michael Stotts, Managing Director.

The Spitfire Grill is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc. www.concordtheatricals.com

Intermission: There will be a 15 minute intermission at the end of Act I.

Content Advisory: This production contains discussions of sexual assault and domestic violence. There is a moment of implied physical abuse.

Sensory Advisory: This production contains bright, flashing lights.

A note on COVID safety: Please know that as an audience member for any of our performances, you will be required to wear a mask and present your vaccination card or a recent negative Covid test before entering the performance space. Additional safety requirements may be added at any time at the discretion of Emerson College, the City of Boston, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Any prospective ticket buyer with concerns about health safety protocols is encouraged to call our Box Office at 617-824-8400.

View Production Media

Production Photos by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo. View full album.

THE SPITFIRE GRILL
Creative Team

Scenic Design

Alex Mollo

Costume Design

Munroe Shearer

Lighting Design

Piper Phillips

Sound Design

Julie Beaulieu

Props Lead

Ryan Bates

Stage Manager

Olivia Tighe

Dramaturg

Ciara Berardi

A note from the
Director, Nick Vargas ’10
& Assistant Director, Emerson Hart ’23

First, an immense thank you to the community involved in bringing this The Spitfire Grill to life. From designers, stage management, technicians, actors, musicians, and everyone in between – this production is the result of your hard work, artistry, and care. Your dedication to learning and growing, both as theatre artists and as people, through this process is exactly why the arts and theatre are so vital in our lives. 

The Spitfire Grill is a story of perseverance, hope, and redemption. It is a story of people overcoming immense obstacles and, in spite of themselves, finding a way forward. The struggles of these characters and their stories ring true to us, as we find our way out and our way forward from some of the darkest times in our lives. We’re re-entering into a world that is both old and new, dealing with existing challenges, new threats, and what at times feels like a bleak and uncertain future. But with hope, compassion, and a willingness to forgive, we will forge ahead. The Spitfire Grill reminds us that being in community with others is essential to who we are as people. We can’t live our lives alone. We need to be vulnerable with one another. We need to be joyful with one another. We need to heal with one another.

At the top of Act 2 Hannah sings “my friends and my family are with me tonight…”, and we’re so grateful to have you here with us, for the final stage of our process: performances. While it is often encouraged for audiences to “sit back and relax” we ask you to lean forward, listen, and engage with our storytelling. You’re not a passive participant in this experience. Find moments of joy, moments of sadness, moments of questioning and moments of celebration. At intermission and after the show talk with your neighbors. Utilize this performance as a way to build connection, to create community.

ABOUT NICK VARGAS

Nick Vargas ’10 (he/him/his) is a theatre director, educator, & producer in the Boston area. For the last 6-years Nick has served as the Associate Artistic & Education Director at Wheelock Family Theatre at Boston University (WFT at BU), an organization dedicated to creating professional theatre and educational experiences for artists and audiences of all ages and identities. Select WFT at BU directing credits include The Wizard of Oz, Walking The Tightrope, Little Women, Ragtime, and Stuart Little. Nick previously served as the Casting Director & Artistic Associate at Imagination Stage, the mid-Atlantic’s largest professional theatre for young audiences, and was a founding member & Artistic Director of Field Trip Theatre in Washington, D.C., producing and directing world-premiere plays by local playwrights. Nick received his B.A. in Theatre Education from Emerson College and is currently pursuing his MBA with a concentration in Social Impact at BU’s Questrom School of Business.

Setting

Gilead, Wisconsin; 1983

Musical Numbers

ACT I

“Ring Around The Moon” – Percy

“Something’s Cooking at the Spitfire Grill” – Effy, Hannah, Caleb, Joe, Shelby, Percy

“Coffee Cups and Gossip” – Percy

“Out of The Frying Pan” – Percy 

“When Hope Goes” – Shelby

“Ice and Snow” – Caleb, Joe, and Effy

“Colors of Paradise” – Percy and Shelby

“Diggin’ Stone” – Caleb

“This Wide Woods” – Joe and Percy

“Forgotten Lullaby” – Hannah

“Shoot The Moon” – Effy, Hannah, Joe, Percy, Shelby, Caleb

— 15 MINUTE INTERMISSION —

ACT II

“Come Alive Again” – Hannah, Percy, Shelby, Effy, Joe, Caleb

“Forrest For The Trees” – Joe

“Wild Bird” – Shelby

“Shine” – Percy 

“Way Back Home” – Hannah

“Finale” – Effy, Joe, Hannah, Shelby, Percy 

A note from the
Dramaturg, Ciara Berardi

The World’s Effects On The Town Of Gilead: A Deep Dive Of The Spitfire Grill

et in Wisconsin following the Vietnam War, The Spitfire Grill is an exploration of individual and communal perseverance, the power of redemption, familial relationships, and the conflict of traditional, conservative values. Presenting this show in Boston, a bastion of liberal elitism, it is important that we consider the tenets of conservatism more common in the middle of the country. How does the setting affect the narrative, and how do we relate to it?

A common association with conservatives is their connection to religion, specifically to branches of Christianity. Typically, conservatives embrace limited government, fiscal discipline, free enterprise, a strong national defense, and traditional family values. Sometimes, conservative leanings are straightforward, in that their conservatism is primarily religious, social, and cultural. However, there are also libertarians, foreign-policy realists, and free marketers who are also considered conservative on different aspects of government and policy. During the Vietnam War, there was a split between two types of conservatives, the pro-war right and the Libertarians (a part of the antiwar movement). 

The Spitfire Grill, which takes place in the 1980s after the Vietnam War, explores the effects of this war, as well as how regional conservatism affects the development and mindsets of the characters. Most of the characters in The Spitfire Grill identify as conservatives who were in support of the war, an increasingly unpopular opinion, while opposing the Commander-in-Chief. There are numerous references throughout the show about town hero Eli, and how he went missing in action; a plot point that casts a shadow over the town’s heads. Most of our characters use holding onto their values as what appears to be a form of coping mechanism. We witness old conservative values through how the characters treat the ones they love and how they treat each other. 

When newcomer Percy enters this depressed and trapped landscape, she has just been released from prison on parole. The transition is not easy for her. She must learn to trust her new boss, Hannah, her coworker Shelby, and Joe, the sheriff in charge of her parole. While finding a comfortable relationship with a parole officer can be challenging for most parolees, it’s actually been proven that having a healthy relationship with an officer can have positive effects. Maybe Joe has the potential to be the calm in the storm that Percy’s looking for.

Will Percy be able to overcome how she views others and how they view her? Will the town find the light it needs to guide its way back to normalcy? Something’s cooking up at the Spitfire Grill, and it’s calling your name.

Meet the
Cast

Joe — LUCAS BABCOCK
Percy — NAJA BROWN
Hannah — HAWA KAMARA
Visitor — JASON KORN
Shelby — MORGAN MCMILLIN
Caleb — ALEX SERINO
Effy — IZZY WISDOM
Understudy (Percy, Shelby) — EMILY BEGLEY
Understudy (Visitor) — JAMES BROOKS
Understudy (Joe, Caleb) — MAX CONNOR
Understudy (Effy) — JULIANA FEROLIE
Understudy (Hannah) — KATE RILEY
Understudy (Shelby) — CARRIE TULLY

Meet the
Band

Keys/Musical Director — JONATHAN GOLDBERG
Violin — CLARA KEBABIAN
Cello — ANNA SEDA
Accordion — KATHERINE MATASY
Guitar/Mandolin — TOM YOUNG

Meet the
Artistic and Production Staff

Assistant Director — EMERSON HART
Assistant Scenic Designer — AVA SCANLON
Rigger CASPER — APODACA
Assistant Props Lead — OAK WALKER
Assistant Costume Designer — ATHENA PARKMAN
Wardrobe Supervisor — DOM LETTERII
Assistant Lighting Designer — ALEX TAWID DI MAGGIO
Assistant Lighting Designer — DAVIS KRANCHALK
Co-Production Electrician — MADDIE HANLEY
Co-Production Electrician — OLIVER HAWKE
Lead Electrician — HENRY KACIK
Production Sound Engineer — SARAH MILLER
Assistant Production Sound Engineer — DYLAN NORRIS
A1 — JUANMA SUAREZ
Assistant Stage Manager — ELENA RING
2nd Assistant Stage Manager — KAYLA COPPING
Production Assistant — RYAN TSE
Production Supervisor — CARLEIGH ALLEN
Associate Production Supervisor — MICHAEL MENOR
Assistant Production Supervisor — ALAYNA DOMBOSKI
Company Manager — BLAKE BERGGREN
Assistant Company Manager — HALLE HART
Assistant Company Manager — MINA-CLAIRE PAZ-LE DRAOULEC
Run Crew
SOFU ALABACHEW, SEMAJ’ BYRD, YASMINE DEFNE DADIKHI, MJ FOX, JUSTICE JONES, ANGELA KEON, PETER KOLODZIEJ, M JOSOR, BEE LACLAIR, ECHO LU, NICHOLAS PAPAYOANOU, ALEXA PETERSON-ISMAIL, LEO SERVERTAR, LORENZO SOSA LOPEZ, ANTHONY SPIDELL, AVERY STALLINGS, MAGGIE STEWART, SUNNY WU

Cast Bios

LUCAS BABCOCK — Joe Sutter

BFA ’23 Musical Theatre. Emerson Stage credits: Corduroy (Corduroy), The Late Wedding (Narrator/Ensemble), and Into the Woods (Understudy, Narrator). Regional credits: Clear Space Theatre Company’s Grease (Danny), 9 to 5 (Dwayne/Ensemble), and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Rueben/Ensemble); Dr. Phillips Center’s A Funny Thing…Forum (Marcus Lycus). Lucas would love to thank everyone on the cast and creative team for fostering such a great learning environment. Thanks to Mom, Dad and Noah.

EMILY BEGLEY (she/her) — Understudy, Percy Talbott, Shelby Thorpe

BFA ’24 Musical Theatre. Emerson Stage debut! Emerson College credits: Musical Theatre Against the Grain’s Rock of Ages (Sherrie Christian) and Musical Match Game (Sutton Foster). Regional credits: MassOpera’s The Mirror Cabaret (Featured Soloist); and Moonbox Productions’ Sister School (Mel). She thanks her wonderful family and friends for always lifting her up and knows she wouldn’t be here today without them. Instagram: @emily.begley

JAMES BROOKS JR. (he/him) — Understudy, Visitor

BFA ’25 Musical Theatre. Emerson Stage debut! Emerson College credit: Cabaret of Color.

NAJA NICOLE BROWN (she/her) — Percy Talbott

BFA ’23 Musical Theatre. Emerson Stage credits: Into The Woods (Stepsister Florinda), Baltimore (Alyssa), and This Golden Day (Understudy). Emerson College credits: Kidding Around’s 13! the Musical (Cassie), Musical Theatre Society’s Cabaret of Color (Director & Performer). Big thanks to Mom & Shani, and sending my love to all my family back in Florida. IG: @najanbrown

MAX CONNOR (he/him) — Understudy, Caleb Thorpe/Joe Sutter

BFA ’24 Musical Theater. Emerson Stage credits: Next To Normal (Gabe), This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing (Narrator), Into The Woods (Assistant Music Director). Other credits: Weston Drama Workshop’s Something Rotten (Nick Bottom) and Merrily We Roll Along (Franklin Shepard). Special thanks to his family and friends for their amazing support.

JULIANA FEROLIE (she/her) — Understudy, Effy

BFA ’24 Musical Theater. Emerson Stage debut! Emerson college credits: Musical Theatre Society’s Urinetown (Josephine Strong), Musical Theatre Against the Grain’s Rock of Ages (Ensemble/Swing), and Rareworks Theatre Company’s Buck Woods is a Good Man (Sarah). A big thanks to Mom, Dad, & Andrew.

HAWA KAMARA (she/her) — Hannah Ferguson

BFA ’23 Musical Theatre. Emerson Stage credits: Men on Boats (Bradley), Spring Awakening (Martha), The Late Wedding (Ensemble), Next to Normal (Understudy, Diana), Into the Woods (Cinderella’s Mother and Grandmother/Understudy, The Witch). Thanks to my family and friends who have supported me in my artistic journey. Kisses to mom and dad.

JASON KORN (he/him) — Visitor

BFA ’25 Musical Theatre. Emerson Stage debut! Emerson College credit: Full Fathom’s Incompleteness Theorem (Joel). Thanks to my loving family for giving me the support to keep going.

MORGAN MCMILLIN (she/her) — Shelby Thorpe

BFA ’23 Musical Theatre. Emerson Stage credit: Into The Woods (Stepsister Lucinda). Emerson College credits: Musical Theatre Society’s La Cage Aux Folles (Choreographer) and Ordinary Days (Deb & Claire Swing); and Musical Theatre Against the Grain’s Rock Of Ages (Choreographer). I love my family and my dog! Thank you to Drew and Elizabeth! My best friend/roomie is the stage manager of this show!

KATE RILEY (she/her) — Understudy, Hannah

BFA ’24 Theatre Education & Performance. Emerson Stage credit: RAGE (Jaz/FRANKLY-I-DON’T-GIVE-A). Emerson College credits: Musical Theatre Against the Grain’s Dream Cabaret (Stage Manager/Lighting Designer/Soloist); Musical Theatre Society’s Tavern Song (Associate Producer) and First Lady Suite (Evelyn Lincoln) and EFA Cabaret 2021 (Script Writer) and EFA Cabaret 2020 (Soloist). Member of Kidding Around Board, host on Standing Room Only (WERS). Love to my family, my friends, my teachers, and this amazing team.

ALEXANDER SERINO (he/him) — Caleb Thorpe

BFA  ’24 Acting. Emerson Stage credits: Next To Normal (Henry), Three Romances… (Understudy, Joe), and Newfest Short Works’ Temperature (Mike). Emerson College credit: Musical Theatre Society’s Big Fish (Don Price).

Other credits: Weston Drama Workshop’s The SpongeBob Musical (SpongeBob) and Indecent (Avram). Thank you Mom, Dad, and Tim! Be epic. alexanderserino.com

CARRIE TULLY — Understudy, Shelby

ISABELLE WISDOM (she/her) — Effy

BFA ’23 Musical Theatre. Emerson Stage credit: Into the Woods (Swing). Emerson College credits: Musical Theatre Society’s Big Fish (Ensemble/Swing), and American Idiot (Woman 4). Thank you to my wonderful family and friends for all their support.

Creative Team Bios

JONATHAN GOLDBERG — Music Director
Jonathan Goldberg serves as senior term faculty in Emerson’s BFA Musical Theatre program. Recent music director credits for Emerson Stage include Into The Woods, Next To Normal, Flora The Red Menace, Working, Urinetown, Titanic, Guys And Dolls, and Carousel. Recent Boston regional productions include Pacific Overtures, Road Show, Sondheim On Sondheim, and Sweeney Todd (Lyric Stage Company Of Boston), and Little Women, Ragtime and Billy Elliot (Wheelock Family Theatre). Jon has won four IRNE awards for Lyric Stage productions of A Little Night Music, Man of La Mancha, Grey Gardens and Kiss Me Kate. Other credits: Pacific Overtures (North Shore Music Theatre), Forever Plaid (Stuart Street Playhouse), and three years with the Boston company of Nunsense, as well as playing keyboard for the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus in their Summer 2022 Disney Pride In Concert at Symphony Hall. 

ALEX MOLLO (they/them) — Scenic Designer
BFA ’22 Theatre Design/Technology. Emerson Stage credits: Everybody (Paint Charge), Interior of the Artist Without Her Sister (Assistant Scenic Designer), Marie Antoinette (Scenic Designer), As You Like It (Paint Charge). Emerson College credits: Musical Theatre Against the Grain’s The Fog Around Us (Scenic Designer, Paint Charge); The 40th Annual EVVY Awards (Paint Charge); and Mercutio Trouple’s WIRED (Scenic Designer, Paint Charge, Technical Director). www.alexmollodesign.com

RYAN BATES — Co-Props Lead
Emerson Stage credits: This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does NothingCorduroy, and Everybody. Ryan is the Props Director for Emerson Stage and has worked as a props lead and scenic designer throughout New England, including productions at New Repertory Theatre, Bridge Repertory Theatre, The Umbrella, Gloucester Stage Company, InMotion Theatre, Middlebury College, Longwood Players, Off the Grid, Fresh Ink, and many more. Ryan teaches Stagecraft at Emerson and has served on the faculty at Boston University. MFA: Boston University. www.ryanbatesdesign.com

HARVEY JOHNSON (he/him) — Co-Props Lead
BFA ’24, Theatre Design/Technology. Emerson Stage credits: Going to California (Assistant Scenic Designer), As You Like It (Assistant Scenic Designer), and Marie Antoinette (Assistant Props Lead).

MUNROE SHEARER — Costume Designer
BFA ’22 Theatre Design/Technology. Emerson Stage credits: The Late Wedding (Costume Designer), Going to California (Costume Designer), Next to Normal (Assistant Costume Designer). Emerson College credits: Musical Theatre Society’s Urinetown (Costume Designer), and La Cage Aux Folles (Costume Designer); and The 40th Annual EVVY Awards (Co-Wardrobe Designer). munroeshearer.myportfolio.com

PIPER PHILLIPS (she/her) — Lighting Designer
BFA ’23 Design/Technology. Emerson Stage credits: As You Like It (Lighting Designer), Into the Woods (Projections Designer), Marie Antoinette (Production Electrician), This Girl… (Assoc. Scenic Designer), Everybody (vMix). Emerson College credits: Musical Theatre Society’s La Cage Aux Folles (Lighting Designer); The 40th Annual EVVY Awards (Production Electrician); and Mercutio Troupe’s The Trial of Errors (Lighting Designer). Thanks to DK, AT, MH, & OH. piper-phillips.format.com    

JULIE BEAULIEU ’22 (she/her) — Sound Designer
Select Emerson Stage credits: The Devil on Your Shoulder (Co-Sound Designer) Flora, the Red Menace (Sound Designer), Everybody (Sound Designer), Spring Awakening (Co-Sound Designer), This Girl… (A1), and Into the Woods (A1). Other credits: Kidding Around’s She Kills Monsters; Boston Conservatory’s Head Over Heels; Nobles Theatre Collective’s Something Rotten; and ArtsEmerson’s The Just and the Blind. Education: BFA ’22 Theatre Design/ Technology, Emerson College.

OLIVIA TIGHE (she/her) — Stage Manager
BFA ’23 Stage & Production Management. Emerson Stage credits: Three Romances for The Unwell and Otherwise (Stage Manager), This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing (1st Assistant Stage Manager), Spring Awakening (2nd Assistant Stage Manager), This Golden Day (2nd Assistant Stage Manager), The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (Production Assistant), Next To Normal (Associate Production Supervisor) and Into The Woods (Assistant Company Manager). Other credits: The Eagle Theatre’s Ragtime (Assistant Stage Manager), The Huntington Theatre Company’s Our Daughters, Like Pillars (Production Assistant), and Contemporary American Theatre Festival’s Whitelisted (Production Assistant) and The Fifth Domain (Production Assistant). Team work makes the dream work!

CIARA BERARDI (she/her) — Dramaturg
BFA ’25 Theatre. Emerson Stage credit: Into the Woods (Dramaturg). Emerson College credit: Musical Theatre Against the Grain’s Rock of Ages (Assistant Marketing Director). Regional credits: Manasquan High School’s Silver Linings (Stage Manager/Ensemble). Thank you to my family in Boston and at home for their continuous support.

Meet the
Emerson Stage Staff

Staff

Artistic Director — Annie G. Levy
General Manager — David Colfer
Assistant General Manager — Joshua M. Feder
Production Manager — Timothey Sullivan
Interim Production Manager — Deb Sullivan
Technical Director — Kristin Knutson
Props Director — Ryan Bates
Costume Shop Supervisor — Richelle Devereaux-Murray
Resident Sound Designer — Elizabeth Cahill
Head Carpenter — Connor Thompson
Scenic Carpenter –– Raven Whyles
Scenic Painter — Joe Keener
Sound Technician — Steven Deptula
Assistant Costume Shop Supervisor — Becky Thorogood
Draper/Cutter — Laurie Bramhall
Assistant Properties Manager — Lauren Corcuera

Advisors

Stage and Production Management — Debra A. Acquavella
Interim Stage and Production Management — Cate Agis
Scenic Design — Luciana Stecconi
Scenic Painting — Joe Keener
Costume Design — Tristan Raines
Lighting Design — Scott Pinkney
Sound Design — ​Elizabeth Cahill
Fight/Intimacy — Ted Hewlett
Dramaturgy — ​Marissa Friedman

Student Staff

Emerson Stage Office Assistants — Alex Tawid Di Maggio, Jake Tolentino, Esther Chilson, Karli Fisher, Carly Mentis, Samantha Duggan
Production Management Assistants — Carleigh Allen, Olivia Tighe, Blake Berggren
Videographers — Xiao Chen and Juanes Serrano
Scenic Technicians — Casper Apodaca, Jonah Barricklo, Sean Dougherty, Marco Giacona, Emerson Hart, Davis Kranchalk, Dylan Norris, Mercy Suarez, Elise Tuckwood
Scenic Artists/Painters — Sofia Goldfarb, Fernando Rueda, Elizabeth Fuire, David Staats, Katherine Kendrick, Sarah Stevens, Alex Mollo
Paint Shop Assistant — Sophie Hartstein
Prop Shop Assistant — Delene Beauchamp, Amaya Gonzalez-Mollmann, Oliver Hawke, Mariel Richardson, Ava Scanlon, Mercy Suarez
Stitchers — Amaris Rios, Ava-Sofia Settoon, David Estabrooks, Dom Letterii, Greta Morgan, Lorence Jones-Perpich, Munroe Shearer, Tayla Dixon, Trixie Ward
Costume Shop Office Assistant — Zhiyan Jin
Laundry Assistants — Angelina Parillo
Stock Attendants — Lucile Lyon, Megan Decker, and Aleah Bloom