“The Spitfire Grill” may sound like the name of a new hip restaurant opening up in an up-and-coming area, but it is actually the title of a wonderful musical that Cincinnati Christian Schools just performed. It was adapted from the 1996 movie, which won the Audience Award at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival.
The musical starts with a woman named Percy who has recently been released from jail. She heads to a place she thinks is heaven, (also known as) Gilead, Wisconsin. After meeting with her parole officer, he decides that the best way for her to spend her time is as an employee at the Spitfire Grill. The musical follows Percy’s journey of self-loathing and acceptance of friendship.
Cincinnati Christian Schools’ cast of 14 thrived in many areas. Their scenery was fitting, along with uplifting music, and stage presence was had by all. The original musical is only supposed to have the leads, but in this version a chorus was added. This added depth of sound and the support that the principals needed.
Percy, played by Katie Kulp, was a star. Her vocals were what carried the show along. She truly showed the process of redemption, as a recently released inmate. The plot of “The Spitfire Grill” is difficult and harsh, but Kulp did a remarkable job of staying true to her character.
Wynter Connell was an inspiration to watch. Connell was wonderful as the role of Hannah, the old and feeble owner of the Spitfire Grill. One song she sang was titled “Way Back Home,” in which she longed for her missing and isolated son to find his way back home. To say that her performance was touching would be an understatement.
During each song, the entire scenery changed flawlessly. Both cast and crew were involved in the change, and they looked like naturals. The technical aspects were overall simple, but that is what the show required. There were a few lighting issues where sometimes actors were saying lines before the lights came up, but this did not take away from the show.
The story of the Spitfire Grill is one that not many people know, but it is one that is very relatable. Cincinnati Christian Schools picked a gem of a musical and performed it well with ease. The leads were extremely talented, and had the chorus to back them up. To some, the Spitfire Grill may just be a restaurant, but to the audiences that have had the pleasure of seeing this performance, it is a way to find “The Colors of Paradise” along “These Wide Woods.”