Posted in based on a film, cruelty, moving musical drama, musical, second look, Vietnam background

Ugly is as ugly does in ‘DOGFIGHT" — gets a second look

This is an update since we had a chance to give “Dogfight” a second look!
For some, cruelty is a birthright. For others a rite of passage. 
“Dogfight,” the new musical  playing at Second Stage Theatre through August 19th, doesn’t examine the fine points of meanness and callousness. It does offer an improbable, or on second peek moving, redemption for Eddie Birdlace (Derek Klena.) Rose Feeney (Lindsay Mendez) sees past the ugliness of his actions and his physical good looks.

Lindsay Mendez as Rose with Derek Klena as Birdlace and company in the musical “Dogfight.” Photo © Joan Marcus.
In “Dogfight,” with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and a book by Peter Duchan based on the 1991 indie film of the same name, male bonding is mostly abusive and nasty. The girls, like Marcy (Annaleigh Ashford) and Chippy (Deirdre Friel, who also plays a number of other cameos) and even Rose are either victims, or just wanna have fun. Eddie and his pals, Boland (Josh Segarra) and Bernstein (Nick Blaemire), the three Bs, are marines on the eve of shipping out. Their destinaton is Vietnam. 
F. Michael Haynie as Fector, Nick Blaemire as Bernstein, Adam Halpin as Stevens, Josh Segarra as Boland, and Steven Booth as Gibbs in “Dogfight.” Photo © Joan Marcus.
This last night in San Francisco is for them to have “Some Kinda Time,” as the opening number suggests. The songs are not unpleasantly generic ’60s style pop, maybe with a bit of an edge to match the subject matter. The acting is good, particularly Derek Klena and Lindsay Mendez as the leads, and Annaleigh Ashford’s Marcy is tough as nails and terrific.
DeirdreFriel as Bernstein’s silent date, Nick Blaemire as Bernstein, Derek Klena as Birdlace, Lindsay Mendez as Rose, Josh Segarra as Boland, and Annaleigh Ashford as Marcy in the musical “Dogfight.” Photo © Joan Marcus.  
“Dogfight” is about insensitivity and heartlessness. Why are we not championing the women these marines treat so badly? It seems like we should be more concerned. The story line while both disturbing and satisfying, still manages to be bland. “Dogfight” uses the familiarity of its musical style, the dancing, and the wrap-around sets of staircases and catwalks, designed by David Zinn, to bolster the weakness of its plot.

So, about that second look: “Dogfight” was much more engaging the second time around. Its central characters were touching and its storyline was poignant. Even the music flowed better and was more interesting.  

  Derek Klena as Birdlace, James Moye as the party singer, Lindsay Mendez as Rose in the musical “Dogfight.” Photo © Joan Marcus.
To find out more about “Dogfight” visit