By Henry Slater
A stage sits bare and deserted, with nothing but a closed curtain hanging a few inches above it. The stage lighting comes from overhead. A girl walks out from behind the curtain and uses the stage as her pedestal.
Her voice begins to fill the room as she sings about her character’s life struggles. More actors emerge from behind the curtain to join her after she finishes the number, and as the story progresses, the audience begins to see the story of a woman named Percy attempt to jump-start her life.
The production is entitled “Spitfire Grill,” and is the first musical that Whatcom Community College has done in nine years.
“This is the second time in Whatcom’s history that we’ve done one,” said stage director Shawn Fuller.
The musical follows a story in which a young woman decides to move to the fictional town of Gilead, Wisconsin and take up a job at a restaurant called the “Spitfire Grill.”
“It’s a story of how her arriving in town affects the people who live there, and how the people affect her,” said Fuller.
The young woman’s name is Percy, and is played by 23-year-old Comfort Israel. “It’s my first lead role,” said Israel. “I auditioned at the last minute expecting to get into the chorus, but then I surprisingly got a call saying I landed the lead part.”
Israel is also excited about the content of the story. “It’s a heartwarming story of redemption and reinvention,” she said. “There’s a cool dynamic between Percy and the people, because Percy initially sees something good in the people that the they never saw before, and the people see something good in Percy that she never saw.”
The musical is appropriate for an audience of college students because of its messages having to do with financial struggle, said Fuller. “Something going on at Whatcom, and at colleges in general is financial burden, and this show really speaks to that portion of our populace,” she said.
It is a story of hope, Fuller said. “It starts in the low part of a downward spiral, and these characters find the beginnings to finding their way out of it.”
Producer Gerry Large is excited about the musical because this year, they are members of the American College Theater Festival he said. “This is a national organization and we are a part of one region.”
Being a part of this organization means that the production will be judged by three regional industry professionals.
“After they adjudicate us, they will choose three actors to go and compete at the regional festival,” said Large.
The show opens on November 14,and goes through the 17, starting at 7:30 p.m. with tickets going for $12, and $8 for students.
A free preview will be shown on Tuesday, Nov 13, at 7:30 p.m. All events are in Heiner Theater.
“Spitfire is a story musical,” said Fuller. “So instead of that ‘YA-HA-HA-HA!’ kind of musical, there’s a little more natural movement. The characters really go on an emotional journey.”