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The Spitfire & Fred
by James Valcq, Playwright & Director
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GOI Logo 2011 VertTickets on sale NOW for AFT's Fall Season at

Door Community Auditorium  

Guys On Ice to feature  

"Packer Friendly" Schedule


Only 4 weeks! - Only 25 Performances! - Don't Wait! 


As performances at the Peninsula State Park Amphitheatre wrap up, American Folklore Theatre is hoping the momentum from a strong end to their Summer Season will translate into a strong opening for their Fall Season at Door Community Auditorium in Fish Creek, WI.


Tickets are on sale now for what will be AFT's most ambitious fall schedule to date featuring extended runs of Guys on Ice and The Spitfire Grill.


The season opens September 1st with the return of the fan faDougvorite Guys On Ice. Written by Fred Alley and James Kaplan, this show is quite arguably the most beloved Wisconsin musical of all time. In addition to record-breaking runs at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Guys On Ice has played at venues coast to coast since its debut at AFT in 1998. The show hasn't been seen in Door County since 2007 and returns this season for a four-week run at DCA, in part, to celebrate the Limitless Legacy of Fred Alley, cofounder of AFT and collaborator on more than 20 of their original musical comedies.


Fred Alley wrote the following description of the show for AFT's 1998 program: "You've seen them. Little wooden shanties sitting on lake ice. Puffs of smoke rising from chimney pipes. On a quiet day, maybe the static of a tinny radio filters through plywood walls, across the frozen tundra, back to shore. In a cold world, on a cold day, on a frozen lake, these little signs of life are all most people know of a secret culture that thrives right here amongst us. Well, wonder no more. Once again, AFT sets its sights close to home as we bring you our somewhat twisted take on the secret world of ice fisherman. Guys on Ice spends a day in the life of Marvin and Lloyd - fishing buddies and home-grown philosophers. With musical numbers like, "The Wishing Hole," "Ode to a Snowmobile Suit," "Fish is the Miracle Food" and "The OnGOI 19 135e That Got Away," Guys on Iceworks not only as a serious anthropological study but as a musical comedy as well."


AFT favorites Doug Mancheski, Steve Koehler, and Lee Becker will be playing Marvin, Lloyd, and Ernie the Moocher (respectively) for the show's 4-week run at the Door Community Auditorium. 


Guys On Ice opens September 1st and features a "Packer Friendly" schedule with shows at 7:30 p.m. every night except Sundays through September 24th with an additional matinee on Saturdays at 4:30 p.m. The start time for the performance on Thursday, September 8th has been moved to 6:00 PM to allow Packer Fans to catch the opening game against the Saints at 7:30 that evening. Tickets are $23.00 for adults and $13 for children 12 and under. Order Tickets Now!   


Also returning to Door County this fall is The Spitfire Grill. This year marks the tenth anniversary since The Spitfire Grill had its Off-Broadway debut. The award-winning show by Fred AllSpitfire Grill Logo 2011ey and James Valcq played to sold-out audiences in New York City and was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle award, one of the most prestigious awards presented to Off-Broadway plays and musicals. It has been one of the most widely produced musicals over the ensuing years with hundreds of productions in the US and around the world, even being translated into Korean and German. James Valcq, the composer and co-book writer, will make his Spitfire directing debut with this production.


Based on the award-winning film by Lee David Zlotoff, the musical depicts the journey of a young woman just released from prison who decides to start her life anew in a rural Wisconsin town. In doing so, she inspires a journey within the town itself toward its own tenuous reawakening. The Spitfire Grill has been described as "soulful and transcendent" by New York Magazine, which named it "Best Musical of 2001".


Spitfire PosterIn addition to the show's nomination for the Outer Critics Circle Award, The Spitfire Grill was presented with the Richard Rodgers Production Award just two weeks after Fred Alley suffered a fatal heart attack while jogging in Door County.


Casting for The Spitfire Grill will be announced soon.


The Spitfire Grill opens September 30th and plays at 7:30 p.m. every night except Tuesdays and Sundays with additional performances at 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 1:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Sundays through October 15th. (Show times subject to change.) Tickets are $27.00 for adults and $15.00 for children 12 & under.  Order Tickets Now!  


Tickets for both fall offerings are on sale now in the AFT box office at the Green Gables shops in north Ephraim, via phone at (920) 854-6117, and online at www.FolkloreTheatre.com


The Spitfire & Fred
James Valcq, Playwright & Director of "The Spitfire Grill"



There is an old adage (which I just made up) that composers should bAlley Valcq Spitfire Headshote heard at the piano or not heard from at all. However, I've been asked to share with you my recollections of Fred Alley, in particular of the time we spent writing THE SPITFIRE GRILL, so please indulge me if you would.


Fred and I met in high school, when I was attending Summer Music Camp at UW-Madison. As I write this, I'm looking at a picture I keep next to my desk, a cheap dime store photo booth 'portrait' of Fred from about that time. He looks for all the world like James Dean in "Giant" (cowboy hat included) and he has autographed it 'Frederic P. Alley' with a flourish. Though we rarely lived in the same zip code, we remained great friends through the years. Door County entered the picture for me in 1983, when I replaced Fred as a guitar-strumming singer in the Heritage Ensemble while he was off on some vagabond adventure or other.


The Heritage Ensemble became AFT, and soon enough Fred and I became collaborators. In 1994 we perpetrated THE PASSAGE upon the AFT audience. 5 years passed before I stumbled upon a film called THE SPITFIRE GRILL. After appearing in at least three productions of GUYS ON ICE while waiting to secure the legal rights to adapt the SPITFIRE movie, Fred and I finally got the go-ahead one night when there was a ring around the moon outside the Ephraim Town Hall. One of the first things Fred did was to shift the locale from Maine to rural Wisconsin. He wanted to write about people that he knew, with all their faults, their dreams, and their triumphs. He wanted to write about us.


I wish I knew the words to describe to you the energy and passion and joy that buzzed between us while we wrote this stuff. Fred and I constantly challenged each other to reach deeper into our hearts, to put into words and music all the good things we've learned about life. The most amazing thing would happen when Fred handed me the right lyric for a song - I'd sit down at the piano and the music would just come out. Then Fred would look at me with that twinkle in his eye and I'd know 'we done good'. When he handed me the wrong lyric for a song, I'd sit down at the piano and NOTHING would come out. Then I'd bully Fred until he handed me the right lyric!


Fred put into words in THE SPITFIRE GRILL what I believe is the most personal expression in all his work. Every line exudes the essence of Fred's own compassion. And I humbly hope that every note reflects what I've learned from my beloved friend and collaborator about the capabilities of the human heart. What indescribable joy and energy buzzed between us while we wrote! Beaming like a proud parent whose child exceeds all expectations, Fred often called THE SPITFIRE GRILL "our great work". I didn't know it was to be our last.


Fred's sudden and unexpected passing occurred a few days before a workshop of SPITFIRE at Playwrights Horizons in New York City. The Off-Broadway production opened in the wake of the unthinkable events of September 11, 2001. Now, ten years later, many things have changed but some things seem never to change. I continue to grow up and to grow older, while Fred remains forever 38. I still think about my friend each and every day. How I miss him! Sometimes those ten years seem like a hundred, so faint is Fred's voice. At other times it feels barely a day has passed since we last shared a good laugh. But I always feel closest to Fred when I visit the Grill.


During his last few precious months, he planted in THE SPITFIRE GRILL little seeds containing all the good things he'd learned about life. I find enormous consolation in the fact that Fred's quiet message of goodness and renewal continues to be heard.


You see, SPITFIRE has never really stopped running since 2001. The production count is almost 375 with no sign of slowing down. How wonderful to know that on some nights, as many as seven different Shelbys are comforting Percy with "Wild Bird" in locations all over the world from the UK to Australia. Fred's words have been translated into German, Korean, and even Japanese. Now, this September, we will come full circle as AFT brings the GRILL back to Wisconsin in a 10th Anniversary production directed by yours truly. It's the 10th anniversary of the twin towers tragedy. It's the 10th anniversary of our collective unfathomable loss here in Door County. But it's also the 10th anniversary of the birth

of something. Something that brings hope, joy, and comfort wherever its vagabond adventure takes it. Sounds like Fred. Sounds like THE SPITFIRE GRILL.


American Folklore Theatre is a non-profit professional theatre organization that produces original musical shows in repertory from June through August.  AFT continues its performances into the fall with shows in Door County town halls September through October and over the Christmas holidays.  American Folklore Theatre is a member of Theatre Wisconsin and the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), organizations that promote non-profit theatre groups.  For more information on American Folklore Theatre, please call the AFT office at (920) 854-6117 or visit the AFT website at www.FolkloreTheatre.com.