Grand Central’s Spitfire Theater launches satirical Disney comedy show

smith and associates

Spitfire has launched a brand new Disney-themed satire on its stage in the Grand Central District of St. Pete — and it’s pure philharmagic.

Peter Pan is drunk. Prince Charming is convicted. Lumiere’s palace is more empty than a COVID-era ball pit.

Welcome to Spitfire Comedy House! You can check your expectations in the lobby.

Since 2016, owner Nick Rigs and the Spitfire team have brought world-class comedy shows and classes to Tampa Bay. Featuring Florida’s finest stand-up, improv, and sketch comedians, the small-but-mighty theater has since grown into one of St. Pete’s most fun weekly attractions. This Sunday, however, it’s about to get even bigger. At 6pm, the curtain will rise on the first live show of Spitfire’s 2021 season, Disney on the Rocks!, and—trust me—you don’t want to miss it.

An unconventional, St. Pete born comedy

Now, I know what you all are thinking. You’re Floridians—you know your Disney. I’d bet you probably spend your evenings belting out “Let It Go” with your Amazon Alexa while sorting your “thing-a-ma-bobs” (of which you likely have 20). But here’s the thing; you haven’t seen Disney like this.

Featuring a handful of Spitfire’s most accomplished performers, Disney on the Rocks is an edgy, satirical comedy that presents “darker timelines” for six of Disney’s beloved characters. Conceptualize your favorite heroes as broke, type-two diabetic felons, or those once-intimidating villains as deadbeat used car salesmen… Sound intriguing? I stopped in to their final dress rehearsal earlier this week. It definitely is.

Here’s the thing about Spitfire, though; one plot twist is never enough. So, not only will the cast be turning classic plotlines upside down, they’re going to do it singing.

You read that right. In true Disney fashion, this warped, “after-dark” show is a musical.

Twist #3: it’s 100% improvised

After my show preview, I caught up with Artistic Director, Nick, for a few words.
Naturally, the first thing I wanted to learn more about was about the improvisation. Did the cast really just take the stage with no plan? Was their fate actually left to their instinctual abilities to make up a compelling the story on the fly?

Nick elaborated on the concept of the musical. “The lyrics are always different,” he specified, “but we know what the song is about and who we’re playing.” He himself, for example, knows he is portraying a downcast Lumiere, but that’s essentially it. The rest is left to the audience, his castmates, and the good old game of chance. And, let me tell you, from a viewer’s perspective, that type of uncertainty will have you on the edge of your seat.

One mission: make St. Pete laugh

Disney on the Rocks, however, is more than just an established theater’s attempts to create something new; it is timely and necessary. Musical Director, Frankie Ess, spoke on the production’s importance:

“During these times,” he shared, “Humor is so hard to come by. People will find the characters, interactions and the song development of the show funny.”

Ess’s words perfectly capture Spitfire’s central mission; to make St. Pete’s laugh. And, with a stellar cast and a knack for the unconventional, Disney on the Rocks does just that.

Take Disney on the rocks

Disney on the Rocks opens this weekend, and will run each Sunday in January at 6pm with limited seating. Tickets are $15 a piece, with discounts for groups of 2-4, and a livestream option for pandemic cautious viewers.

To buy tickets for Disney on the Rocks, prospective audience members can visit Spitfire’s website, or call the theater at (727) 329-6290.

Kara VanDooijeweert is a current journalism student at Rutgers University. If you can't find her in the Bay's best restaurants, she's probably off exploring the wilderness. Catch her on Instagram, @karanicolev.