The Minden Opera House will present “The Spitfire Grill” beginning March 16 at 7 p.m. The production also marks the directing debut of Claire Runions.
The story centers on a young woman named Percy, who served prison time. Upon her release, she arrives in a small town in Wisconsin with hopes of beginning a new life. She works as a waitress in the Spitfire Grill.
“It’s set in a town just like Minden,” Runions said, “Same kind of people, same kind of place. Each song gives you a close up look at the person singing it.”
Runions does have prior experience with the Spitfire Grill. She performed in the Kearney Community Theatre production of the play. She also participated in productions of Nunsense II and The Nuncracker.
During the summer of 2011, Runions was asked if she would have interest in directing a play for Minden Opera House.
“I had no idea what to do,” she said, “But I thought ‘Okay, I’m going to direct this show.’”
She presented her ideas to the Community Players Board, including cost and profit expectations. Once being approved, orders were placed for the script and score from Sam French.
No one came to the first night of scheduled auditions and only one came to the second. Runions frantically spread the word through phone calls and Facebook that the play needed more people.
“I even auditioned people in the Kearney Players parking lot… and I gave them all rolls. It was perfect.”
The scripts did not come in time to allow scripted auditions, rather people were instructed to sing anything, simply to give an impression of their ability.
Runions herself was forced to step into the role of Percy when the one option for the role indicated she would be unable to attend two of the performances.
“When I took that role, directing came to a halt.”
Since that time, Steve Crooks, who designed and built the set, has been a huge asset after Runions found herself on stage.
The play has gone through its fair share of setbacks, with two accompanists forced to drop out, and scripts arriving late. The cast has not yet held their first dress rehearsal, with opening night less than one week away.
For the full story, read The Minden Courier