By Annie Zeleznikow
Dogfight is a soulful musical about a rag tag team of young marines heading for Vietnam in the 1960’s. Before they are deployed they spend their last few hours of freedom in San Francisco, conforming to the tradition of marine’s past by hosting a Dogfight, where the marines try to bring the worst looking dates to the party. Whilst the Marines look for dates there is a moment of cross dressing that didn’t sit well with me, but overall the energy of the Marines was high, creating a whimsical and frantic start to the show.
Dogfight follows Eddie (Daniel Neibroski), our young marine, and Rose (Antoinette Davis), our sweet and genuine waitress. Eddie invites Rose to the Dogfight, and so their relationship begins; complicated and twisted. While Eddie is naïve and potentially nefarious, Rose is gorgeous, sweet and fluttery. Rose is wonderful, a genuine delight in her sweetness.
As their relationship develops and grows Eddie and Rose bring to life the beautiful harmonies of Pasek and Paul. The romantic musical themes hum with the sweetness that Eddie and Rose share. Neibroski and Davis have developed great chemistry and connection that acts as a pillar for the relationships throughout the show. Davis was able to balance Roses’ gloomy feelings with a gentle humour as she realises the truth behind the Dogfight. Rose continues to balance her sweet and delicate voice and character whilst remaining funny and engaging.
The ensemble was able to support the show with great charisma, adding gentle movement and energy into each musical number. All the female characters in particular are well cast, endearing and emotive. Overall the choreography simple, and the blocking was well done, a testament to the abilities of the ensemble cast.
The clear and lovely harmonies of Eddie’s best buddies Boland (Josh Direen) and Bernstein (Tristan Sicari) incorporated well into the show, providing depth and layers to the music and the story. Neibroski, Direen and Sicari are able to bring wonderful whimsical vocals, with a coherence that matches the whimsy of the characters.
Madeline Pratt as Marcy, another date invited to the Dogfight, stood out during her angsty solo. Marcy’s solo song was infused with powerful vocal, grand emotions and seamlessly moved the narrative of the show forward.
The Rustic set design and stage dressings (by Yvonne Jin and Blanca Pardo) helped transport the audience to 1960’s ‘Cisco, accompanied by lighting (by Jason Bovaird) to complete the 60’s experience. The equally atmospheric musical themes from Pasek and Paul intertwine particularly well with the design decisions of the creative team. The band played well, particularly during Act 2, and was led by Timothy John Wilson.
There were some sensitive topics brought up without much warning, as the harmonies from the marines took a sinister and dark turn. This was in stark contrast to the romance that builds between Eddie and Rose.
The highlight of the show, and my personal favourite song from Dogfight; First Date, Last Night was beautiful and heartfelt. Eddie and Rose come across as hesitant and delicate, whilst remaining shyly in sync with each other.