‘Dog Fight’ now playing at the Hudson Theatre in Hollywood is from Benj Hasek and Justin Paul, the Academy Award-winning musical team responsible for ‘La La Land’ and the smash Broadway hit ‘Dear Evan Hansen’.
The date is November 21, 1963. The place, San Francisco. On the eve of their deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia, a Marine Corporal, Eddie Birdlace (the terrific, Payson Lewis) and his two best friends, Bernstein (Trent Mills) and Boland (Spencer Strong Smith) set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery This includes playing a game called ‘Dog Fight’. The guys throw a party where all the male attendees put fifty dollars in a pot and whoever brings the ugliest date to the festivities, wins all the money.
With an hour left to go, Eddie still hasn’t found a date He ventures out to a local diner where he meets Rose, (the super talented, Nicci Claspell) a shy, awkward waitress/wannabe musician, Eddie using his boyish charms convinces Rose to be his date for the party. Rose is so excited that you can’t help feeling for her as she painstakingly looks for just the right dress to wear. But of course Eddie only cares about making Ruth look ugly. He even goes as far as smearing lipstick all over her mouth. Eddie thinks he has a sure fire win, but it doesn’t take long for the whole thing to backfire on him.
‘Dog Fight’ is based on the 1991 movie of the same name which starred River Phoenix and Lily Taylor. Yes there is something dated about the play and of course, it’s extremely sexist, but you still can’t help being moved by the characters and its message that is still appropriate in 2017. Because in the end, Eddie learns the power of love and there is nothing outdated about that.
‘Dog Fight’ is co-directed by Jennifer Stratton and Jennifer Oundjian, who also did the choreography. The book is by Peter Duchan. The whole cast including Emily Morris as Marcy, the real winner of the contest, are excellent.
The musical opened on Friday June 2, 2017 and plays through Sunday June 25th at the Hudson Backstage, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd in Hollywood. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm. Ticket prices are $40.00 and can be purchased by going to www.plays411.com/dogfight.