Tuesday, July 18, 2017

review - DOGFIGHT - Brelby Theatre Company

highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through August 5th.

"...the songwriting duo of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul...have proven they know how to write perceptive, heartfelt lyrics and memorable tunes, and their work on the small, introspective Dogfight is no exception. Brelby Theatre Company presents the Arizona premiere in a smart and distinct production featuring a superb performance by Kinsey Peotter as Rose.... set mostly in 1963 San Francisco. Eddie Birdlace and his two best friends Boland and Bernstein are three Marines spending their last 24 hours in town before shipping out to Vietnam. Their plans for the night include participating in a Marine tradition called a "dogfight"—a contest in which the soldier with the ugliest date wins a pot of cash. The women they find to bring to their party, who have no idea that they are the victims of this cruel joke, include Rose, the sincere, pensive and slightly shy waitress Eddie stumbles upon in a diner. The shame that Eddie feels once the truth is revealed sets both characters on a journey of self-discovery set against the changing times of the 1960s....Pasek and Paul's tuneful score features an abundance of upbeat ensemble songs as well as reflective character solos. While the ending is slightly abrupt and the plot is fairly simple, it is a well-constructed tale of a blossoming and somewhat awkward, yet poignant, romance. Director Shelby Maticic has assembled a talented cast who all create realistic characters. As Rose, Kinsey Peotter doesn't make one false move. She interjects this lonely, but mostly happy, woman with multiple layers of delicate nuance that instantly and instinctively depict the awkward nature of a girl with a hunger and desire to be seen in a romantic way. ...Peotter's strong, clear and beautiful voice also excels on her many songs. As Eddie, Joshua Lindblom may not be quite as subtle in his delivery as Peotter, with gestures and facial expressions in the earlier scenes that are just a hair too direct and forced, but he still does well in evoking the delicate changes that Eddie makes based on his encounter with this fascinating woman. ...As Eddie's buddies Bernstein and Boland, Ryan Malikowski and Nicholas Gearing create clear archetypes of proud Marines who believe they are immortal and are unaware of what their future will bring in the then unknown country of Vietnam, while also making each man distinct. Malikowski's shy, manic nature as Bernstein is a nice counterpoint to the street-smart sense that Gearing brings to Boland. ..Amelia Huot interjects a big dollop of sass as the scrappy, no-nonsense prostitute Boland brings to the dogfight. ...Brian Maticic's multipurpose and multilayered set doesn't elicit a clear sense of the various locales in the story, but it does provide numerous playing areas for the action to unfold and shows a smart way to portray Rose's bedroom. CJ O'Hara's music direction is exceptional, achieving some lovely harmonies from the cast and expert playing by the three-piece band that makes them sound much larger. Jessie Tully and Shelby Maticic's costumes and Tully's hair and makeup designs are period perfect and excellent. ...With a very good cast, distinctive direction, and an excellent band, Brelby Theatre Company's production is a lovely presentation of this quiet, dramatic, romantic, thoughtful and intimate musical. " -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"...DOGFIGHT, the Benj Pasek and Justin Paul play that .. features a trio of Vietnam-era Marines on leave after thirteen rugged weeks of basic training and one day away from shipping off to chaos with no other noble goal than winning a cash prize by dating the ugliest girl in town....Their 2012 play is based on Nancy Savoca's 1991, film starring the late River Phoenix and Lili Taylor and affording more nuance and development of character and emotion than is visible on stage currently at Brelby Theatre Company in Glendale....the play has more of the feel of a soap opera, punctuated by enough pelvic thrusts, profanities, and suggestive remarks to elicit audience guffaws, but not enough to make for a significant theatrical experience....There are moments to be developed that are unfulfilled ~ on and off the battlefields of love and war. What is not unfulfilled, however, is Kinsey Peotter's solid performance, a striking balance between an image of sweet vulnerability, the emergence of a woman who will not abide abuse, and a figure of saintly forgiveness....Shelby Maticic's direction is sloppy with elements that detract from the core story. ...In the end, however you experience this work, the wounds of DOGFIGHT are piercing and their bite is deep enough to leave an impression." Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)

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