San Francisco, November 21, 1963. A nation on the edge of war. And three guys shipping out in the morning who have no idea that they should be scared. Just ready for one last night of no regret.
“Dogfight, A New Musical” is based on the 1991 movie of the same name starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor. A group of marines on their last night stateside hold a contest – the guy who brings the ugliest girl to a party wins a cash prize. Eddie Birdlace – a Marine played by Zak Reynolds – picks up a waitress at a diner.
Of course he ends up falling for her. But the show is about more than that. After all, the action takes place on the day before JFK was assassinated. WaterTower Theatre’s production is directed by Terry Martin, and he explains that significance.
“I think that it metaphorically just sort of was a turning point not only for this country, but certainly for our innocence as a country and the fact that it sort of matched these young men’s loss of innocence. I think it affected me in my telling of the story.”
“It’s on the edge of all this change,” says Juliette Talley. She plays the adorably eager Rose, a genuine flower child, the waitress who melts the heart of Eddie Birdlace.
“They realize there’s so much more for us, and the change is about to begin.”
“Dogfight” had a short run Off-Broadway in 2012. It’s playing Off-West End in London now.
So why bring this new musical here to North Texas now?
Martin thinks that the intimacy of WaterTower’s 200-seat theater only adds to the experience the company has to offer, and it’s the perfect place for new work. He’s also especially interested in the two guys who wrote this show.
Benj Pasek and Justin Paul wrote the music and lyrics for Dogfight. They also wrote music and lyrics for the Broadway musical “A Christmas Story” and for the second season of the TV show Smash. Martin thinks you’ll be hearing a lot more from them.
“There’s hope for new musical theater out there, and it’s really exciting to see two guys like this who really get it. You know, they really get it.”
Terry Martin and WaterTower Theatre continue to look for new stories to tell, and they are staying true to that mission with the first production of the next season – the professional regional premiere of the new musical “Bonnie and Clyde.”