Grant Pegg and Kelly Roberts. Musical
Direction by: Caleb Campbell
by: Nathan Rutups – Set Designed by: Chris Zuber
Designed by: Jennie Norberry – Sound
Design by: James McPherson
Design by: Craig Muller & Grant Pegg.
27th January – 4th February 2023.
is unsavoury ; the language often coarse and confronting; yet directors, Grant
Pegg and Kelly Roberts , have achieved a poetic, pitch-perfect production which
grabs attention from the very first
moments and doesn’t let go until the final affecting denouement.
concerns three young marines who on their final night in town before being
shipped off to fight in Vietnam enter a pact in which the winner will be the
one who brings the ugliest date to a party known as a dogfight, a practice
apparently encouraged by the American Marines as an informal exercise in
dehumanization to make it emotionally simpler for them to carry out their
|Alexander Clubb (Eddie) - Taylor Paliaga (Rose) in "Dogfight"
the production, in the central role as Eddie, the young marine who finds
himself juggling his confusion over his loyalty to his mates and his growing
feelings for Rose, the naïve young waitress he’s convinced to be his date, Alexander
Club is riveting. He’s matched every
inch of the way by Taylor Paliaga’s charismatic portrayal as Rose in which her every
move and reaction feels totally believable and authentic, making it impossible
not to become invested in the outcome of their story.
Supporting these two remarkable performances in this tightly focussed production is a strong ensemble of experienced performers led by Will Collett and Grayson Woodham as Eddie’s mates, Boland and Bernstein. Distinguishing themselves in critical character roles, Kit Berry is a standout as the goodtime girl, Marcy, Kirrily Cornwell is totally believable as Rose’s concerned mother, Liam Downing makes a strong impression as Fector, and Pippin Carrol scores with his sly cameo as the worldly lounge singer.
Gearside brings flair to her cameo as the patient restaurateur while Luke
Ferdinands, Kara Murphy, Rachel Seo, Frank Shanahan and Rachel Thornton all
impress with their totally on-song contributions. Interestingly this production
is the last opportunity Canberra audiences will have for a while to see Pippin
Carroll and Rachel Seo on stage, as both are heading off to commence studies
at WAAPA during 2023.
particularly impressive feature of this production is the choreography of
Nathan Rutups . Rutups clearly understands that there is more to choreographing
contemporary musicals than inventing clever dance steps. For this production
Rutups has created a dreamlike movement vocabulary for his cast of predominantly
non-dancers who all participate in elegant scene changes in which furniture
swirls around the stage and mysterious figures suddenly flit through Chris
Zuber’s quite beautiful abstract setting, enhanced as it is by the atmospheric
lighting design achieved by Craig Muller and Grant Pegg .
impressive is the musical direction of Caleb Campbell who, from his keyboard,
confidently guided his orchestra and cast through the complexities of the Pasek
and Paul score achieving, with the assistance of James McPherson’s sensitive
sound design, an excellent balance between the singers and his excellent on-stage
|Kara Murphy - Charlotte Gearside - Taylor Paliaga - Rachel Seo -Kirrily Cornwell
is the latest in a long line of impressive productions presented by Richard
Block with his Dramatic Productions which he created specifically to present
musicals in the Gungahlin Theatre. This production of “Dog Fight” with its
superb combination of polished direction, musical direction, choreography, excellent set and costume design supported
with superb sound and lighting design is a production which would grace any professional stage, and as such,
despite its comparatively brief season, is one which should not be missed by
anyone with even a passing interest in the art of musical theatre.
Images by Janelle McMenamin
This review first published in CITY NEWS on 28th January 2023.