Dogfight is a musical written by Peter Duchan, with songs by award-winning team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (whose credits include La La Land and The Greatest Showman). It is based on the 1991 movie by the same name, a dark comedy set in 1960s San Francisco. On their last night before being deployed to Vietnam, a group of young marines attends a “dogfight” – a traditional party where the man who brings the ugliest date wins a prize pool of cash. The plot takes an unexpected twist when main character Eddie Birdlace has his values and behaviour challenged by his awkward yet fiercely intelligent and opinionated date, Rose.
Stefan Jamal plays Eddie in the upcoming Bankstown Theatre production. He describes the musical as complex – holding up a lens to notions of machismo, feminism, war and love.
“I think it’s a very nuanced show…there is still so much about it that I am still learning, and new layers I’m discovering in it just from being really exposed to the content,” says Jamal. “The thing that came less naturally to me is probably the bravado of the marines… that kind of unstoppable hero marine mentality was something that was very foreign to me.”
The story takes place in the 1960s but the songs are contemporary and, according to Jamal, perfectly highlight moments of joy and hope as well as angst and despair. He describes one ballad that underscores a particularly poignant moment.
“[It’s] full of grief and heartache and pain – through tears and a choked up throat you’re belting very high notes one after another in a very very beautifully constructed melody.”
An adept creative team makes innovative use of a static set in an intimate theatre, heightening the emotional experience for audiences. This is one for people who love musicals and people who love great stories.
Mar 16-25. Bankstown Arts Centre, Cnr Olympic Parade and Dale Parade, Bankstown. $30-$35+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.bankstowntheatrecompany.com
By Rita Bratovich.