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Spitfire Grill

The Spitfire Grill
Corn Stock Theatre
August 5-13
by Andrew Harlan

Corn Stock Theatre is thrilled to continue its 63rd Summer Season with its fourth production The Spitfire Grill. Unlike the splashy musicals that regularly play in the Tent, this new musical offers audiences an intimate theatrical experience, complete with humorous encounters, moving scenes, and heartfelt moments. As the August sun sets, the natural hum of Upper Bradley Park creates the perfect environment for The Spitfire Grill, beginning performances on Friday, August 5.

Based on the 1996 film of the same name, The Spitfire Grill begins on the day a young woman named Percy Talbott (Sagan Drake) is released from prison. Looking to start her life anew, she follows a page from an old travel book to Gilead, Wisconsin. Percy finds work at The Spitfire Grill, a local diner owned by Hannah Ferguson (Lana Warner), but as time passes, she learns that many residents of the town are struggling with painful memories of the past. Percy’s own journey for a second chance reinvigorates her new neighbors and helps Gilead come alive again. This American story is aided by soaring folk melodies and lyrics that capture raw human emotion.

Director Eric Ewan has a clear vision for The Spitfire Grill. To bring his vision to life, he has assembled a talented cast of seven actors, and there is not a weak link among the group. Sagan Drake stands out as Percy Talbott, providing the heart and tenacity needed to set the town’s transformation in motion. Jessica King brings sincerity to her character Shelby Thorpe, and when she sings with Drake in their duet “The Colors of Paradise,” their clear voices blend beautifully, filling the Tent with hope. Corn Stock veteran Lana Warner plays Hannah Ferguson, a sharp-tongued woman with a rough exterior. Warner shines in her vulnerable moments, as she bares her soul for the audience. Rounding out the cast, Cheri Beever, Jeremie Davis, and Cody Jacobs lend rich, powerful voices to their characters, and Chris Peterlin captures audience attention in his mysterious role.

To create the fictional town of Gilead, Wisconsin, the production team of The Spitfire Grill has paid careful attention to every detail. Director Eric Ewan has staged the show’s intimate moments to hold the audience’s attention, and he has designed an inventive set, recreating Hannah’s diner onstage and serving as many of the story’s other locations. Included in Ewan’s set design, a live band is prominently featured onstage throughout the show. Music Director John Davis maintains the show’s pace as he masterfully leads his musicians. Further, Karl Augspurger’s authentic props help bring Ewan’s set design to life, and Lisa Chamberlain White’s costumes match the style and tone of the production.

The uplifting melodies, realistic characters, and hopeful story of The Spitfire Grill promise to inspire the audience with new material little-seen in the Peoria area. The Spitfire Grill runs August 5-13, with performances at 7:30pm nightly at 1700 N Park Road, Peoria. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and are available at the box office, by phone at 309-676-2196 or online at

Posted on August 3, 2016