Venice Theatre’s musical offers glimpse of life in one-grill town

VENICE — Surround sound pales next to the 360-degree sets by designer Tim Wisgerhof. The latest example is Spitfire Grill, newly open in The Raymond Center.

We are in Wisconsin but neither Milwaukee nor Green Bay. It seems to be off Interstate 90 — far off. The set has signs for Rte 48, 82 and others that might only mean something to those who live in Gilead, a “one-grill” town.


The Spitfire Grill is run by Hannah Ferguson (Lynne Doyle). She has one employee, Shelby Thorpe (Shannon Maloney), whose husband Caleb Thorpe (Charlie Agurcia) is not happy that she is working — perhaps because he is out of work. The quarry is closed.

Enter the local sheriff, Joe Sutter (Dylan Lack), with a new employee for the grill — Percy Talbott (Vera Samuels.) Percy has just been released on parole from prison and seems to be needing an attitude adjustment if she will adapt to this job and not be sent back to prison A regular at the grill is the town busybody and postmistress, Effy Grayneck (Megan Hendrick). An ensemble (Jasmin Graham, Richard Mutkowski and Allyson Robertson) fill a variety of other roles with Tanmart Selby making somewhat regular nightly appearances out behind the grill.

Every good story needs a bit of mystery and this character certainly provides it. “It’s not a big dance musical,” said director Brad Wages before the show. “It’s a story musical. Every night before rehearsal, I used to wait for everyone to arrive. I was used to 36 in musicals. There are only 10 in this cast.”

As it turns out, those 10 are just enough to tell this heart-warming story.


Vera Samuels, who earned accolades as Hamlet in “Hamlet” at Venice Theatre and in “Hamlet POV” at state and regional competitions of the American Association of Community Theatres, acquitted herself even more so in “Spitfire Grill.”

This time, she sang her role with all the emotion and more needed for the part.

Working with talented Lynne Doyle (owner of the grill) and Dylan Lack showed what good casting and an experienced director like Wages can bring to the stage. And then there is that busybody. No one likes a busybody, especially when she plays the part so well.