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LHS revisits small town life in the musical Spitfire Grill

from left, Jazmin Johnson plays Hannah Ferguson, Chelsea Stevens plays Shelby Thorp, Ilea Sather plays Percy Talbot,  Jim Cheesman plays Sheriff Joe Sutter and Gary Bernard, Kevin Forsell and Kayla Balcos in the Lakewood High School production, Spitfire Grill. -
from left, Jazmin Johnson plays Hannah Ferguson, Chelsea Stevens plays Shelby Thorp, Ilea Sather plays Percy Talbot, Jim Cheesman plays Sheriff Joe Sutter and Gary Bernard, Kevin Forsell and Kayla Balcos in the Lakewood High School production, Spitfire Grill.
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LAKEWOOD Drama students and music students at Lakewood High School are collaborating to present a folksy, down-home Broadway musical, opening Nov. 10.
Jazmin Johnson is struggling with the challenge of playing a crotchedy 60-something character in Spitfire Grill, which runs Nov. 10 and 11 and Nov. 17 and 18. Start time is 7 p.m.
I have no experience in that regard, Johnson said she has to imagine what it is like to have aching knees.
I have to walk and talk differently.
Director and drama teacher Lydia Hickok said she has a couple of well-experienced actors holding the story together to go with some really good singers who came over to drama from the music department.
Ryder Shepherd, as Caleb and Chelsea Stevens, as Shelby, are back for their fourth year in drama, Hickok said.
Ilea Sather, who plays Percy, said this show is really different than your standard Broadway musical.
Its got some beautiful songs, said Sather, who plays a feisty parolee who causes quite a stir when she arrives in this small Wisconsin town. A movie by the same name was set in New England, but the stage musical was set in Wisconsin.
Hickok said the music is very different than your standard Broadway musical. For one thing it features a different assortment of instruments an accordian and guitar, flute and keyboard,?she said.
Hickoks husband will play the guitar and he also has built the sets and designed the brochure.
Hes come in very handy, Hickok said.
Hickok and the music director, Beth Lewis, decided to do Spitfire Grill after they learned that they both studied drama in Wisconsin.
It met all of our criteria, Lewis said it was not just because of the two teachers common past.
We have a set of criteria based on our skills and facilities,?Lewis said.
Hickok feels she and Lewis have a good thing going, bringing the music and drama students together.
We seem to have passed through similar places in our lives, Hickok said.
The play takes place in the only eatery in a depressed town. The community lost its spirit when Hannah Fergusons son disappeared. Hannah is the tired, disgruntled owner of the Spitfire Grill. She hired Percy, an ex-con who came to Gilead because of its name.
The grill is for sale but there are no takers so newcomer Percy suggests to Hannah that she hold a contest to find a new owner. The entry fee is $100 and the grill goes to the writer of the best essay on Why you want to own the Spitfire Grill.
Soon, mail is arriving by the wheelbarrow full and things are definitely cookin at the Spitfire Grill.
Its a fun play because it shows how people change with the change of seasons, said Ryder Shepherd, who pays Caleb Thorpe. When winter sets in people get really cold.
Shepard said he used the movie version of the story to inspire his performance as the jealous husband of a budding wife. Calebs wife, Shelby Thorp is played by Chelsea Stevens.
My character starts out very timid and shy, but by the end of the story, I get very confident and assertive, Stevens said.
Kristen Edeen plays Effy Krayneck, the town gossip.
Its her fault everyone doesnt like Percy at first, Edeen said. But then she acknowledges that Percy is doing the right thing. Effys opinions are reinforced and perpetuated by three chorus members who represent the townfolk, played by Gary Bernard, Kevin Forsell and Kayla Balcos.
When Percy showed up and started to change things, she revived hope in the town, Edeen said. Percy forces Hannah to face her sorrow, and, ironically, the ex-con falls for Sheriff Joe Sutter, played by Jim Cheesman.
Percy recognizes that Joe is a nice man and would take good care of her, Sather said adding about her character.
The play has it all it has comedy, romance, drama and action, Stevens said.
Its got great music and its family oriented, the cast said they did some editing of bad language so they could bill it as a family show.
Another experienced LHS actor, Justin Due plays Eli Ferguson.
The Spitfire Grill music is by James Valcq and lyrics are by Fred Alley, based on a film by Lee David Zlotoff.

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