Dogfight, a musical? Really? Sometimes an unlikely title can create the most interest. The Visalia Players believe this will be true when they bring Dogfight to the stage of the Ice House Theatre beginning Friday, February 5.
Described as hauntingly beautiful after its Off-Broadway premier, Dogfight has achieved worldwide interest with its energetic and poignant songs. The title actually comes from a cruel game sometimes played by guys in the military. To win, one has to bring the ugliest date to a party, a dogfight.
Can a plot so mean have redeeming qualities? Yes! is Director Corey Ralston’s response.
“Through the process of obtaining their dates and attending the dogfight, the characters learn about themselves, each other, and grow from the experience.”
Ralston describes the show as thought provoking and brings through his directing expertise a sense of vulnerability and reality.
The major male characters are Marines, the Three Bs, out on the town before being shipped to Vietnam. Birdlace (Auggie Hernandez), Bernstein (Michael Seitz), and Boland (Vernon Spence) set out to find the ugliest date, each vowing to win. Their attempt to pick up girls is hilariously portrayed during “Hey Good Lookin’.”
Birdlace has no idea the future impact of his choice, Rose (Sadie Pursell).
“She is the most amazing character I have ever had the opportunity to play,” notes Pursell. “She goes through the dogfight, that awful experience, and still forgives him.”
Hernandez reflects, “Birdlace starts out as a mindless chauvinist, but through meeting Rose he finds his vulnerability and compassion. He is the most complicated character I have ever played and the most intimidating.”
Boland breaks the rules in getting his date, paying a hooker, Marcy, to join him. Nicole McAvoy describes Marcy as knowing the score.
“It’s not her first rodeo!” McAvoy loves the music from the show, but particularly “Hometown Hero’s Ticker Tape Parade.”
“It’s upbeat and speaks worlds about what was going on with our military at that time,” she said.
For Spence, the essence of the show has multiple facets.
“It is fun, upbeat, dark, and real, there is so much uncomfortable truth and yet it can be fun,” he said. “It also shows that you can’t take anything for granted—people—relationships—everything is fragile and temporary.”
When asked about the uniqueness of the show, Seitz replied, “People may see these guys as the bad guys, but they just need to dehumanize themselves so that they can handle going to Vietnam and live through it. Do what they need to do.”
Dogfight runs for three weekends at the Ice House Theater at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia. Evening performances are at 7:30pm on February 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20. Matinees are at 2pm on Sundays, February 7, 14 and 21. To purchase tickets, visit the Visalia Players’ website at www.visaliaplayers.org, their Facebook page “Visalia Community Players,” or call 734-3900.
NOTE: This show contains adult content and language.