Contact: Allison Goodin, College Relations Associate - Media, 610-740-3790


Production is Lehigh Valley Premiere of Story About Second Chances


Allentown, PA (January 31, 2008) - The Cedar Crest Stage Company will present "The Spitfire Grill," a musical based on on the 1996 film by Lee David Zoltoff.  The show opens on February 21, 2008.

The plot of the show centers on Percy, a feisty parolee who looks for a fresh start and finds herself in the small Wisconsin town she saw a picture of in an old travel book.  Percy soon finds a place for herself working at Hannah's Spitfire Grill.  The restaurant has been for sale for ten years, but there are no takers for the only eatery in the depressed town.  So newcomer Percy suggests to the grill's owner, Hannah, that they raffle it off to the best essay on why you want the grill, and a $100 entry fee.  Soon mail is arriving by the wheelbarrow full, and the Spitfire Grill gets a fresh start of its own.

For production's director, Tim Brown, the decision to stage this musical has a lot to do with second chances, in a number of ways.  "The show itself is about what happens when someone - like Percy - or  even something like the restaurant itself, is given the opportunity to start over," says Brown, who is assistant professor of performing arts at Cedar Crest.  "The first run of this show began in New York City just four days before the terrible events of 9/11.  Many theatre productions were hurt or closed altogether in the wake of that tragedy and unfortunately, "Spitfire" was one of them.  I really love the music and the warmness of this show and wanted to give it a second chance at least for Lehigh Valley theatre goers to experience."

Though the original movie version was not a musical, Brown feels that the style and quality of the score are what sets "The Spitfire Grill" apart from other musicals.  "The music in the show doesn't focus on large production numbers," says Brown.  "It has a much more intimate and decidedly Americana theme to it."  Brown also credits the production's muscial director, Dot Hemerly, with assembling a group of noteworthy perfomers to bring the unique score to life.

"The orchestration of the music is very unique and features a small group of instruments including accordion, violin, cello,  guitar/mandolin, and keyboard," says Hemerly.  "The combination creates a very refreshing sound and we are pleased to have an extremely talented group of performers to showcase it."

Among the featured musicians are Grammy-nominated Alex Meixner on accordian, an Allentown resident who will be performing at the upcoming Grammy Awards telecast in California in February.  Paul Demarest, who has played with likes of Perry Como, Bob Newhard and Regis Philbin, will be featured on guitar and mandolin. Violinist Bruce Gaston, cellist Robert Kautzman and Hemerly herself on keyboard, are all long-time Lehigh Valley performers with extensive teaching and musical direction experience.

The cast of "The Spitfire Grill" includes: Michelle Schmidt (Percy Talbott), Vicky Montesano (Hanna Ferguson), Mariah McMullen (Shelby Thorpe), Mike Febbo (Caleb Thorpe), Nick Martorelli (Sheriff Joe Sutter), Michelle Tetreault (Effy Krayneck), Daryl Callan (The Visitor), Molly McPherson (Ensemble), Jenn Smith (Ensemble), Vicky Thomas (Ensemble), Samantha Hyson (Ensemble).

"The Spitfire Grill" - Music  and Book by James Vlacq; Lyrics and Book by Fred Alley.  The production is directed by Tim Brown. The show runs February 21, 22 and 23 at 8:00 p.m. and February 24 at 2:00 p.m.  Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors.  For more information and tickets please call the Box Office at 610-606-4608.


Media inquiries please contact the College Relations Office at 610-740-3790.



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