By Jennifer Wirz
The Great Northern Theatre Company serves up something new in “The SpitFire Grill” at
For 27 years, GNTC has been committed to “fostering an appreciation of theater …” in Central Minnesota. In 1992, GNTC started providing entertaining summer musicals. Within 10 years, the
forward-thinking group began offering dinner theater shows in the fall and winter. Audiences have enthusiastically supported the musicals, farces, and comedies that are the typical fare for dinner theater. This year, however, theater-lovers are in for a special treat.
Founding GNTC member Vicki Meyer directs this winter’s show, “The SpitFire Grill.” She is especially excited to bring a new kind of storytelling to the stage for both new and returning audiences. When asked what inspired her to choose this show, which has a different feel from previous productions, Vicki said, “I love the story; it has something to say. There is warm, gentle humor in it, but thoughtful moments as well. It will speak to everyone.”
Cold Spring resident Jeff Rieffer has been involved with GNTC for 25 years. He says this show is important because it gives the audience a chance to see how each character in the story changes over time. “It has humor in it, but it also gives people something to reflect on,” says Rieffer. His daughter Lauren agrees. A member of GNTC since the age of 4, Lauren
is the stage manager for “The SpitFire Grill.” “This show is just so different,” Lauren says. “The music is upbeat, but not the typical big-musical style of music.” Lauren also comments that the message is something everyone can relate to because the characters all encounter issues that mirror real life. “It’s a feel-good story, not an outrageous story, because it’s so lifelike,” says Lauren.
Stacy Hoffmann and Joshua Eisenschenk, both newer members of GNTC, work on the production side of the show. Stacy is the props manager, which involves securing various items needed for the show. She was familiar with the movie of the same name, and wants to reassure the audience that the stage production has a happy ending. “It’s a very sweet story about people trying to find the best way to live their lives,” remarks Hoffmann. Joshua, the lighting designer, agrees that the ending will leave audiences smiling. Also, he says, “The singing is amazing.” Fans of musical theater will not be disappointed.
Paynesville resident Kari Shumaker directs the music, which includes keyboard, guitar, mandolin, violin, and accordian. The music sets the “Midwest” vibe of the story, which takes place in a small town in Wisconsin. Shumaker says, “This particular show has some interesting, thought-producing themes such as redemption, love of small-town life, relationship struggles, and family dynamics. The music is wonderfully written and carries the theme of the show through the songs.” GNTC is happy to welcome Shumaker, and the feeling is mutual. “This is my first opportunity to work with Great Northern Theatre Company and I hope it is only the beginning of a wonderful partnership,” comments Shumaker.
Dinner theater tickets are available online at www.gntc1.com, or by calling the ticket line at (320) 241-GNTC (4682). Tickets are $40 and include the show, meal, dessert, ticketing fee, taxes, and gratuity. The show opens Friday,
Feb. 22, and will run Feb. 22-24, Feb. 28, and March 1-3. Sunday performances are matinees, and sign language interpretation is offered March 1.
Don’t miss this touching, upbeat performance. As GNTC expands its menu of theater opportunities, they look forward to serving you something fresh and exciting in “The SpitFire Grill.”