PHOTO CALL: Jim Parsons, Aaron Tveit, Jason Tam and More Celebrate Dogfight Opening Night
By Matthew Blank
Dogfight, the new musical that tells a tender and brutal tale of young people meeting in a situation certain to end in heartbreak, opened in its world-premiere run July 16 at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre.
It marks the New York City debut of rising songwriters Justin Paul and Benj Pasek, whose James and the Giant Peach, Edges and A Christmas Story the Musical have been seen regionally.
Lindsay Mendez (Broadway's Everyday Rapture, Godspell) stars as a young waitress pursued by a fresh-faced Vietnam-bound soldier (played by Carrie's Derek Klena) in 1963. Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Wicked, Other Desert Cities, Take Me Out, The Other Place) directs the production, which has a libretto by Peter Duchan, drawing on the 1991 feature film of the same name.
Dogfight plays Second Stage's Tony Kiser Theatre at Eighth Avenue and 43rd Street, where Next to Normal, Everyday Rapture and The Little Dog Laughed premiered prior to Broadway engagements.
Christopher Gattelli, the 2012 Tony Award winner of Newsies, choreographs.
The Dogfight cast also features Annaleigh Ashford, Becca Ayers, Nick Blaemire, Steven Booth, Dierdre Friel, Adam Halpin, F. Michael Haynie, James Moye and Josh Segarra.
Here's how Second Stage bills the new musical: "It's Nov. 21, 1963. On the eve of their deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery, partying, and maybe a little trouble. But when Corporal Eddie Birdlace [Derek Klena, who was Tommy in Carrie Off-Broadway] meets Rose [Lindsay Mendez, of Godspell and Everyday Rapture], an awkward and idealistic waitress he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she rewrites the rules of the game and teaches him the power of compassion."
Dogfight is based on the Warner Bros. film and screenplay by Bob Comfort; Lili Taylor and River Phoenix starred in the movie. The Marines' cruel bet involves finding the ugliest girl in town and bringing them to a party, at which the women are secretly judged and a winner among the men is chosen. The musical is the winner of the 2011 Richard Rodgers Studio Production Award, administered by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Costume and set design are supported by a grant from the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund.
Dogfight's production team includes scenic and costume designer David Zinn, lighting designer Paul Gallo, sound designer Fitz Patton, hair designer Josh Marquette and make-up designer Ashley Ryan. The music director is Bryan Perri. Orchestrations are by Michael Starobin.
For more information, visit 2ST.com.
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