Collaborative Stage To Present 'Spitfire Grill'
Theater runs deep in Burlene Franklin's blood.
Franklin, the star of many area stage productions, had an idea for a new and different kind of theater group bubbling under the surface for some time.
"Theater is my first love but it had taken a back seat to two of my most wonderful roles to date, mom and wife," Franklin said. "As the kids went back to school, I sat in a very quiet house and thought to myself, 'What do you do now?' I sat there in front of my computer, drinking my morning coffee and saw a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that seemed to bring everything into focus: 'Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.'"
From that spark of inspiration, Franklin has assembled a group of actors and crew to put on plays at various venues in the High Country.
"Many stage companies are tied to one venue," Franklinn said. "They become associated with one place, and the audience has to come to them. We are going to take theater out into the community. Theater can happen anywhere."
The Collaborative Stage's first production debuts in November at Jackalope's View Restaurant on Beech Mountain. "The Spitfire Grill" will be performed as dinner theater in an organic environment.
"The play is set in a restaurant, so the performance will happen all through the dining room," Franklin said. "There will be a main 'stage' area, but the action will move all around the room. The audience, as patrons of the restaurant, is participating."
"The Spitfire Grill," based on the 1996 film of the same name, is a musical drama about a young woman, Percy, who is released from prison and goes to the small town of Gillead to start her life over.
She is taken in by Hannah, who puts Percy to work at her restaurant, the Spitfire Grill. Percy brings change to the small town, stirring resentment and fear in some, and growth in others.
"Ever since I read this play, I knew that it would be the perfect first production for Collaborative Stage," Franklin said. "The story and songs really speak to this area. It really brings to mind places like Banner Elk. Anyone who loves this area will see a connection and it will mean a lot to them.
"If you leave this show and you don't feel better than when you came, you have no heart," she said.
Franklin will portray Percy in this production, with Sara Delbeato as Hannah and Ben Simpson as Sheriff Joe.
Lees-McRae College drama students Holly Knowles, Richard Gebo and Tonya Patterson round out the cast.
"This is a great opportunity for students to get more acting experience under their belts, outside the college theater realm," Franklin said.
To raise the funds for the rights to the play and to get the ball rolling, Franklin reached out to her friends in the theater world.
"Many an actor has enjoyed a meal at my home, and some have enjoyed quite a few," she said. "I asked them to give back by donating to Collaborative Stage, and many have stepped up to the plate. The theater family is a close one, and I am grateful for those who cared enough to make it happen."
Franklin serves as artistic director for Collaborative Stage, and Mindy Cook is the managing director.
"The Spitfire Grill" will be performed on Nov. 7, 8, 12, 13 and 14 at Jackalope's View Restaurant at Archer's Inn, located at 2489 Beech Mountain Parkway in Banner Elk. Tickets cost $30 per person, and include a three-course meal. Dinner is served at 6:30 p.m. and the performance begins at 7:30 each evening, with a separate cash bar available prior to dinner. Seating is limited, so reservations are requested.
For reservations or more information, call Jackalope's View at 828-898-9004.