Dogfight the Musical, the stage version of the 1991 movie Dogfight, with screenplay by Bob Comfort, opened Friday night at North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre to a jam-packed full house of very receptive theatergoers. Like many war stories Dogfight the Musical, which features book by Peter Duchan and music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, is essentially about the loss of innocence. The title has a double meaning, first and foremost the aerial battles of WWII and. in this case. a viciously cruel game in which a prize is given to the Marine showing up for a pre-assignment-to-Vietnam party with the ugliest girl.
Under NRACT managing director Timothy E. Locklear and musical director Joanna Li, the production values of this performance are superb. Choreographer Sarah Griner Duncan creates imaginative and complex weavings and movements to accent the vivacity of the cast and their characters. The cast is populated by young people with theatrical training and apparently sincere ambitions who put out near-professional performances.
Set designers Mike Raab and Mike Anderson, along with lighting designer Jeremy Diamond, use NRACT’s adaptable set to create several locations within the same ramps, making for quick scene changes and sometimes haunting atmospheres.
Costume designer Jenny Mitchell very successfully took on the task of dressing the Marines and recreating the styles of The Sixties. Hair styles of the Flower Power generation are delightfully captured by wig designer Ann Boivin.
Eddie Birdlace and Rose Fenny, the love-interests of the show, are well played by Matt Verner and Rebekah Holland, who bring excellent chemistry to the roles, and individually present us with the conundrum of the loss of innocence that love and war often create.
Boland and Bernstein, who team up with Birdlace in a pal clique calling themselves the “Three B’s,” are played by Christopher Maxwell and Andrew Faggion, who deliver strong performances, with Maxwell giving us a very believable scheming Marine.
Mary Reilly brings us Marcy, the prostitute whom Boland hires to win the “Dogfight,” with a tough and street-wise flair and a wonderful singing talent. Brandi Campbell and Sai Graham create spectacular sparks in their too brief scene that moves from dance floor to wall to heaven only knows where.
The entire ensemble is worthy of high praise, with a special shout out for Jared Scott, who camps his part as the waiter up in fine manner, a neat balancing act for the two lovers just finding themselves in love.
NRACT has been producing consistently fine theater, which accounts for their continued success; and this show certainly fits that pattern.
SECOND OPINION: July 17th Raleigh, NC Spectrum News Central NC interview with actors Matt Verner and Rebekah Holland, conducted by Tara Herrschaft:
http://www.twcnews.com/nc/triangle-sandhills/in-depth-interview/2017/07/17/in-depth–dogfight–the-musical–comes-to-raleigh.html; and July 12th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods: https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/dogfight-the-musical/Event?oid=6893628.
(Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment's online version of
the July 18th Triangle Review review by Melanie Simmons and Ken Benrud, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/07/nracts-dogfight-the-musical-is-a-winner/.)
North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents DOGFIGHT THE MUSICAL at 8 p.m. July 15, 3 p.m. July 16, 8 p.m. July 21 and 22, 3 p.m. July 23, 8 p.m. July 28 and 29, and 3 p.m. July 30 at 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Food Lion Shopping Center.
TICKETS: $20 Friday and Saturday ($17 students, teachers, seniors, and active-duty military personnel), and $12.42 Sunday.
BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://nract.org/tickets.
SHOW: http://www.nract.org/shows#/dogfight/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/251386952010776/.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.nract.org/, https://www.facebook.com/NRACT, and https://twitter.com/NRACT.
Dogfight (1991 film) http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/73341/Dogfight/ (Turner Classic Movies page), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101748/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogfight_(film) (Wikipedia).
Dogfight the Musical (2012 Off-Broadway musical): http://pasekandpaul.com/projects/dogfight/ (official web page), http://www.mtishows.com/dogfight (Music Theatre International), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/Production/5430 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogfight_(musical) (Wikipedia).
Benj Pasek (music and lyrics): http://pasekandpaul.com/ (official website), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/41589 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2537947/ (Internet Movie Database).
Justin Paul (music and lyrics): http://pasekandpaul.com/ (official website), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/41590 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2195520/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Paul (Wikipedia).
Peter Duchan (book): http://www.lortel.org/Archives/CreditableEntity/41591 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1947375/ (Internet Movie Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Duchan (Wikipedia).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on Amazon.com. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori previously reviewed theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.