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“Dogfight: The Musical” opens at Delgado

By Seth Mattei

In 2012, a musical theatre adaptation of the 1991 Nancy Savoca-directed film “Dogfight,” starring Lili Taylor and River Phoenix, made its debut in New York City. On Thursday Oct. 9, Delgado’s theatre department will bring the play to Louisiana for the first time through the directorial lens of department head Tim Baker.

According to the press release, “’Dogfight’ is the story of a young Marine on Nov. 21, 1963, on the eve of his deployment to Vietnam (and unbeknownst to him, also the eve of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination). Continuing a tradition of the Marine Corps, he and his buddies play a cruel joke on the women they invite to a party, wherein the soldier who brings the least attractive girl wins the prize money. A story of the loss of innocence for the soldier and his date, ‘Dogfight’ also parallels the loss of innocence of the United States.” This competition is called a “dogfight,” hence the play’s title.

There are 17 cast members in “Dogfight,” including Aaron Romano and Olivia Ros in the starring roles of Eddie and Rose. The bulk of the play takes place in San Francisco, with one Vietnam War scene. Baker calls the set, designed by Tom Dawson, “massive.” “It has height levels,” said Baker. “One level represents a bedroom, one level is the band platform, and the highest level is the Golden Gate Bridge, where the two main characters go for a walk.”

The music and lyrics for “Dogfight” were composed by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (known collectively as Pasek and Paul), who also wrote the songs for musical adaptations of “A Christmas Story” and “James and the Giant Peach.” The script was written by Peter Duchan. When asked why this story successfully translates into a musical theatre piece, Baker said, “It’s about emotion, and music conveys emotion. The score is hauntingly beautiful.”

Performances of “Dogfight” will take place in the Drama Hall on the third floor of Building 1 at 8 p.m. from Thursday Oct. 9 through Saturday Oct. 11, as well as Wednesday Oct. 12 through Saturday Oct. 18. Sunday matinees will be held at 3 p.m. on Oct. 12 and Oct. 19. General admission is $15, and $12 for Delgado students, faculty and staff. For further information, including reservations, call (504)671-6360.

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