St Judes Players Present Dogfight - Review

St Judes Players Present Dogfight - Review


Posted 2022-08-09 by Haydn Radfordfollow

Thu 04 Aug 2022 - Sat 13 Aug 2022

St Jude’s Players Present Dogfight - Review

St Judes Players presents Dogfight, a thought-provoking production of emotional, contemporary musical theatre. The title refers to a practice encouraged by US Marines during the Vietnam war in an informal exercise in dehumanisation, to make it emotionally easier for the marines to carry out their violent duties.

The musical is based on the 1991 movie of the same name starring River Phoenix. The story is about a group of US marines on their last night of leave in San Francisco before going to Vietnam to become heroes. Set on November 21, 1963 on the eve of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, these young marines each contribute $50 to participate, without embarrassment or shame, in a cruel ritual undertaken by US marines to bring along the ugliest woman they can find to outwardly objectify women. In an atmosphere of booze, tattoos, debauchery, and the dogfight, the marine with the ugliest unsuspecting partner wins the prize money.

Understandably, some members of the audience may find the story uncomfortable to watch and combined with the foul language it is easy to understand the critical responses it may raise with some members of the audience, while others will accept the swearing as being authentic and typical of how marines speak.
Is Dogfight a good musical, you might ask?

This intense beautiful musical by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul has been praised by countless critics and nominated for numerous awards. They wrote James and the Giant Peach and Dear Evan Hansen and their outstanding works in contemporary music theatre won the Jonathan Larsen Award.

Even though Dogfight features possibly one of the most distasteful boy-meets-girl romantic stories, Director Brian Godfrey, Ben Stefanoff (Musical Director) and (Jethro Pidd (Movement Coach) have with the highly talented Production Crew, Cast and Band produced an amazing, lively entertaining gripping musical which reflects the extensive hard work that has been put into creating a high level of amazing singing and choreography. Together an excellent group of first-class musicians support the young cast through an amazing number of exciting musical numbers.

Special mention is warranted for the outstanding performances by Ruby Pinkerton as Rose, the shy waitress with folk music aspirations and Sarah Whalen as Marcy, the almost toothless, wise-cracking prostitute, along with Gus Robson, Simon Barnett and Steve Lewis, as the marine buddies who nick-name themselves "The Three Bees."

From the outset, this complex production held my attention with its beautiful mesmerising multi-level sets. The graphics are awesome and the various colourful costumes by Jill Wheatly and Anna Siebert reflect the 1960s as the performers sing and dance. Despite the limited space on stage with the musicians supporting the cast, Marty Gilbert did an incredible job providing an excellent sound balance. The lighting design by Richard Parkhill created a wide range of moods whether it was lively dance scenes, romantic cafe and intimate love scenes, to the raging battle scenes in the Vietnam jungle.

In the 1960s, I was one of the generation which faced the possibility of being conscripted into the Australian Army to serve in Vietnam. Dogfight brought back memories that sometimes were sad and sometimes funny. It seems everyone knows someone who served in Vietnam. Whether you served in Vietnam or not, it is quite personal how we may reflect, due to our circumstances or experiences. I was not a conscript, but I know young men who did serve. I was particularly moved by the scenes in Dogfight when the US Marines got tattoos and the significance that played in their lives. I didn't expect Dogfight to be such an emotional experience.

I know there are ready audiences for many of the popular well-known musicals to be performed on stage and how risky and challenging it can be to stage lesser-known works.
Congratulations to St Jude's Players for taking the risk of presenting such an amazing piece of contemporary musical theatre and creating such an outstanding thought-provoking musical.

Piano - Ben Stefanoff
Violin - Ian Johnson
Guitar - Mark Lanigan-O'Keeffe
Cello - Louisa Giacomini
Drums/Percussion - Jack Barton
Bass - Ella Conboy**

!date 04/08/2022 -- 13/08/2022
209905 - 2023-06-16 06:23:32


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