Musical auditions burn brightly

Theatre 21 hosts auditions for the fall musical, a story of bravery and redemption.


Amelia Mowry/THE CHIMES

Samantha Gassaway, Writer

The story of a girl burned by the law turns lyrical as she finds a new life behind the heat of a restaurant grill — this is the premise of Biola’s fall musical “The Spitfire Grill.”

An immense amount of work

Auditioners trickle into the theater, taking adequate time to rehearse their chosen monologues and musical pieces prior to entering a black stage and standing before a small cluster of observers along with a piano accompanist. Auditions for Theatre 21’s fall musical have begun.

Associate professor of theatre and director of the musical Kate Brandon chose to host the auditions a semester early because she wants to utilize the summer break to commence the immense amount of work surrounding the musical. Her excitement for the production shows through her loving description of the story.

“This story is about hope and renewal and the impact that one person — one person who we may not see as somebody who is impacting  — but that person can impact an entire town, which is what happens in this musical,” Brandon said.

Renewal and impact

Brandon is not alone in her love for the musical. When freshman elementary education major Katie Bartlett heard Biola’s Theatre 21 chose “The Spitfire Grill” as its fall 2017 musical, she was ecstatic. She had seen the musical at a friend’s college in Washington and fell in love with the soundtrack and characters, belting her heart out while listening to the songs in her car ever since.

“I guess it’s a common college show because it has a smaller cast,” Bartlett said. “[I love it] primarily because of the music, it’s just gorgeous. It’s different than a lot of other musicals in that it is smaller, and I feel like it is not like the cheery, dancey… It’s less about the music and more about the story.”

Somber beauty

Though she recognizes the somber tone the musical sets, she admits the beauty in the music emphasizes this more than hinders it. Similarly, senior theatre major Bree Hobbs auditioned for the musical as a desire to perform with Theatre 21 and participate in a musical intended to be more than uplifting — “The Spitfire Grill” challenges more than it encourages.

Both girls auditioned primarily for the lead role of Percy Talbott, though they explained receiving any role would be a blessing. With auditions so near to finals week, the stress admittedly added to the nerves which come from the audition process.

“I think there’s a lot of deeper qualities within Spitfire. There’s so much growth within the different characters in the show. There’s this beautiful storyline of rebirth and re-growth into a new community,” Hobbs said. “I want to know [if I got the part], but I have to study for my Theo II exam or something. Auditions are good and they’re fun, but they’re extremely nerve-wracking.”

Though many auditioned with a specific role in mind, freshman sociology major Amanda Petrowski decided to audition for “The Spitfire Grill” mainly in order to remain in the theater’s close-knit community. Not only did she find success at Theatre 21 with her lead role in “The Glass Menagerie” early in her college career this semester, but also experienced camaraderie among her fellow actors.

“Honestly, just being a part of the production, even if it’s backstage, I just love the theater community, and I just want to help out with the show in any way I can,” Petrowski said. “Everyone was so welcoming.”

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