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a Musical
by Peter Duchan (book), Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (songs)

COMPANY : Act 3 Productions [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Act 3 Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 4851

SHOWING : February 05, 2016 - February 20, 2016



It’s November 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 meets Rose, 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 love and compassion. This hauntingly beautiful musical takes audiences on a romantic and heartbreaking theatrical journey that stays with you long after the performance.

Director Liane Lemaster
Gibbs Chase Alford
Fector Ty Autry
Stevens John Coombs
Boland Jeremy Cooper
Ruth Two Bears/Chippy Danielle Girardeau
Eddie Birdlace Robert Lee Hindsman
Rose Fenny Abby Holland
Marcy/Peggy Katie Patterson
Mama Lilliangina Quinones
Lounge Singer/Etc. Michael Rostek
Bernstein Austin Taylor
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Howlin’ Dogs
by playgoer
Saturday, February 6, 2016
"Dogfight" is a tuneful, foul-mouthed musical concerning U.S. Marine buddies having a last-night blowout in San Francisco before shipping out to Okinawa and Viet Nam. Their plans for commitment-free fun run into a wrinkle when Birdlace falls for Rose, a plump, plain waitress he has asked out as a kind of goof. There’s an underlying sweetness, with a veneer of jarhead bravado and camaraderie. And there’s a lot of singing.

The set, designed by Wally Hinds and Brandli Mullcoombs, uses the standard stage set-up at ACT3, with platforms upstage, augmented by a couple of roll-on features (a bed stage right and a rotating platform center). While there is a painted portico stage right, the most attractive stage elements are a Golden Gate bridge-like element far up right and black-and-white painted tiles on the floor. It’s all very functional, although a few opening night glitches were evident in scene changes.

Taylor Sorrel’s lighting design highlights the action nicely, especially in a very effective battle scene near the end of the play. Arielle Geller’s vital, virile choreography adds to the testosterone-filled atmosphere. Alyssa Jackson’s costumes work for the various characters the ensemble plays, and M. Kathryn Allen’s sound design makes sure the four-piece band can be heard at all times. The design elements support the production, but hardly overwhelm it.

Director Liane LeMaster has blocked the action so that the best seats in the audience are on the side nearest the entry. There’s enough movement, though, that sightlines are generally fine. Music director Chris Brent Davis has gotten good vocal performances out of the cast, and the massed voices of choral numbers are quite powerful. The ensemble performances are varied, and mostly effective, especially by the females. They’ve been directed well to allow them to shine at individual moments, while still supporting the overall effect of the production.

Of the principal male performers, Austin Taylor probably comes off best as Bernstein, a young, inexperienced recruit. His wide smile and ringing tenor never fail to impress. Robert Lee Hindsman, in the lead role of Eddie Birdlace, lacks variety in his facial expressions, with an earnestness throughout that masks his character’s journey from callousness to romance. He does have a powerful, true voice, even so.

As for the female lead, played by Abby Holland, there’s nothing but praise to be showered on her performance. Her emotional journey is clearly spelled out in her face and body, coming to glorious life in her lovely voice. She provides the heart of the piece. Her performance resonates with the emotional yearning of an insecure young woman coming into her own. She and the choreography are what make "Dogfight" memorable. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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