In recent years, Hamilton audiences have grown accustomed to seeing high-quality musical theatre performed to professional standards by talented locals, and the latest offering is pushing the bar higher once again.
Dogfight, produced by Bold Theatre for a season at The Meteor, is a confronting, haunting, heart-breaking, and deeply moving tale about six young US Marines about to be sent to war in Vietnam in 1963. On their last night in San Francisco, they engage in a tradition – the Dogfight – where each soldier competes to bring an “ugly” girl to a party.
Against this backdrop of arrogance and misogyny, the show follows the complex relationship between one marine, Eddie Birdlace, and his date, Rose, and the ensuing emotional journey both characters take when Rose discovers the game – emotions of bitterness, anger, pity, compassion, empathy, and forgiveness.
Written by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul in 2004, Dogfight has only been seen once in New
Zealand, making it a natural choice for Bold Theatre, which has committed to bringing rarely performed theatrical works to Waikato audiences.
Co-founder Charlotte Issac says: “Dogfight speaks to many issues around gender equality and relationships that we’re still addressing today. These young men do awful things and treat women horribly, but they do so because they’ve been taught no better and their behaviour has been institutionalised.”
The show also sees the creative team of Director David Sidwell and Musical Director Nick Braae join forces for the third time in 2019.
Sidwell is relishing the opportunity to work on a musical with messages so pertinent and layered.
“On the one hand, it’s a story about what happens when a group of men are told they’re bulletproof and that their actions have no consequences,” he says.
“On the other hand, there is a beautiful and heart-breaking story about what happens when a young woman, Rose, challenges them on this behaviour.
“It’s not only about what it means to be a good man or a good woman, but a good person. There’s no guide for how this show should unfold, given it so rarely appears on stages worldwide. I’m excited at being able to shape the show in the intimate space of the Meteor Theatre.”
Although many people might not recognise the composer’s names, the sounds of Pasek and Paul will be familiar to many – the duo wrote the songs for the smash Broadway musical
Dear Evan Hansen, as well as the films The Greatest Showman, La La La Land, and the new songs for Aladdin.
Braae says: “This is a demanding show of the singers and the seven-piece ensemble
– there’s no hiding in the ensemble, and it’s some of the trickier orchestral parts we’ve played in a while. I’m so fortunate to be able to work with such a talented local cast who are going to bring this magical music to life. And to hear a group of young men sing these four-part vocal harmonies … it’s going to be stunning!”
Dogfight continues Bold Theatre’s innovative and novel approach to staging shows in Hamilton, and local audiences do not want to miss the many familiar faces onstage, all of whom are taking their talents in a new creative direction.
The season runs 29 November to 14 December at the Meteor Theatre.