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The Spitfire Grill
The Spitfire Grill

The Spitfire Grill
American Blues Theater at Stage 773
Thru - Aug 17, 2019

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Show Information

American Blues Theater at Stage 773

  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune- Somewhat Recommended

"...As a result, Tammy Mader’s new production is most pleasurable in its musical numbers — both Jones and Cameron are immensely talented singers and sophisticated actresses who know how to interpret a song, and they’re both beautifully in touch with the emotional resonance of the music. But many of the book scenes feel stagey and artificial, especially the comedy. It’s an issue that flows from the material as much as from the production. I still have my soft spot for “Spitfire Grill,” which I first saw at the old Apple Tree Theatre, and it was a pleasure to hear those songs again."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Reader- Recommended

"...Setting fundamental credulity aside, the show is tight, tuneful, and, under Tammy Mader's direction for American Blues Theater, impressively multidimensional. Best of all, Jacquelyne Jones as Percy never hits a false note in a role riven with cliches. Her exquisite vocal control lets her convey moments of delicate intimacy and full-throttle outrage with equal clarity."
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Justin Hayford

Windy City Times- Recommended

"...The Spitfire Grill is not driven by one woman, but three-each with her own demons and triumphs and eventually, a shared goal. American Blues Theater's production tends to rush the dramatic moments in the name of tight pacing, but the stunning vocals and complex storyline make for a pleasant yet empowering night at the theater."
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Lauren Emily Whalen

Stage and Cinema- Highly Recommended

"...Sit - and calm - down and make yourself at show. A captivating work extolling rural redemption, The Spitfire Grill, a 2001 musical of the 1995 film, shows how, if a wound goes deep, even the healing is bound to hurt. Its tender focus is on a female parolee who takes a chance on a small Wisconsin town that she circled in a travel book. After some resistance, the citizens of Gilead return her trust."
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Lawrence Bommer

Let's Play at ChicagoNow- Highly Recommended

"...The Spitfire Grill is a small cast of seven that gives an outstanding performance. Malcolm Ruhl directs the musical score of folk music with a message that is clear about 'Healing' intertwined throughout the plot."
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Rick and Brenda McCain

Around The Town Chicago- Highly Recommended

"...In March of 2018, Refuge Theatre did “The Spitfire Grill” in a unique production by doing the play in an actual diner, the Windy City Café, on Chicago Avenue. It was a unique production, and on some of our “wintry Chicago days”, the actors who used the outside as well as the diner, got their feet wet ( truly). I had never seen the film that the musical play was based on, and immediately fell in love with the story."
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Alan Bresloff

WTTW- Highly Recommended

"...Maybe it has simply been hiding in plain sight all along. Or maybe this just happens to be the ideal moment in which to bring it back to life. Either way, the altogether luminous American Blues Theater production of “The Spitfire Grill” – the 2001 musical with a soaring, intensely poetic score by James Valcq and Fred Alley based on the 1996 film by Lee David Zlotoff – is an uncannily timely beauty that deserves to be far better known. And this exquisitely rendered revival – expertly realized by director Tammy Mader, music director Malcolm Ruhl, and a uniformly ideal cast of seven – delivers both a rare emotional punch and a winning sense of forgiveness, redemption and love."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Theatre Review- Highly Recommended

"...Tammy Mader’s production is simply wonderful. It’s pitch perfect in every way, from her magnificently talented cast, to her creative team who help bring the show to life. Ms. Mader presents a heartfelt story, with characters and music as cozy and welcoming as comfort food, the perfect anecdote to all the negativity that surrounds us today. This is really a must-see production, a tale told by a gifted theatre company, that absolutely “Shines.”"
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Musical Theatre- Highly Recommended

"...The cast is a knockout here. Jacquelyne Jones as the parolee Percy gives the right amount of vulnerability and hardness. Jones has a great voice and can really belt out emotionally when it calls for it. Catherine Smitko as Hannah, the older woman, walks right out of real life. Not a false moment from her."
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Eric Karas

Chicago On Stage- Highly Recommended

"...It may not be a show full of surprises, but it is one full of sincere emotion. From Jones' plaintive opening number, "A Ring Around the Moon," to Smitko's "Forgotten Lullaby," we get to know all of these people through the songs they sing, and combined they help us to understand the town. Lott-Rogers provides the comic relief for the most part, but there are moments when even Effy is moved by what is going on here. And Caleb is not simply a villain; he is afforded an opportunity to explore his own lost life in "Digging Stone," a tribute to the quarry that has shut down and the men who worked there. By the end, the town has "come alive again" in every possible way, and those who felt most adrift find acceptance, peace and love. And we who are watching are reminded that there is always a summer after the winter, that hope is possible even in the darkest of times."
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Karen Topham

PicksInSix- Recommended

"...Mader has assembled a terrific company stoked with powerfully resonant voices, with none finer than Jones, who finds the anguished core of a resilient survivor striving to settle with her past in the capstone number, "Shine," and Cameron's beautifully rendered reflective ballad, "Wild Bird." Johnson's tender "This Wide Wood," a searing rendition of "Forgotten Lullaby" by Smitko, Hamilton's defiant "Digging Stone," and the company number "Shoot the Moon" are among the many highlights in the earthy, homespun score."
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Ed Tracy

Picture This Post- Recommended

"...It seems fitting that American Blues Theater would choose to stage this work. After all, they are the theater that brings It's a Wonderful Life to Chicago every year. The Spitfire Grill is a touch of that Christmas sweetness in summer. This production will likely have special appeal to country music lovers, though the various songs are in several musical genres."
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Amy Munice