Military musical ‘Dogfight’ will be staged at UWSP in May
A surprising musical about finding love and compassion when it’s least deserved, “Dogfight” will be staged at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) May 6 to 8 and May 11 to 13.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7, and Thursday through Friday, May 11 to 13 in the Studio Theatre in the Noel Fine Arts Center. A 2 p.m. matinee will be offered both Saturday and Sunday, May 7 and 8.
Tickets are $21 for adults, $20 for seniors, $16 for youth and $4.50 for students with UWSP ID. Tickets are available at the UWSP Information and Tickets Office, located in the Dreyfus University Center concourse, by calling 715-346-4100 or online at tickets.uwsp.edu.
Set the night before President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, the story centers on three young Marines who have a secret competition on the final evening out before they are deployed to Vietnam.
Corporal Eddie Birdlace, played by Sam McLellan of Wautoma, meets an idealistic waitress named Rose, played by Haley Haupt of Brookfield. Despite his ill intent, Eddie learns a lesson that will stay with him in years to come.
The military aspects of the show have given director Alan Patrick Kenny, an assistant professor of musical theater, a way to bond the student cast and production team members. Each rehearsal starts with 22 minutes of boot-camp style exercises to increase their stamina for the challenging material in the show as well as give them insight into the military and group dynamic.
“How people treat each other in a group versus how they treat each other one-on-one is key to the theme of the show,” Kenny said. “This play is a reflection of all of us. Why do we behave a certain way with others instead of the way our heart leads us?”
With a contemporary rock score that is both delicate and aggressive, and an environmental set that brings audience members right into the action, the show becomes a personal and vital experience, he said.
“Dogfight” has also struck a chord with the student actors, Kenny said, as they have taken to heart its messages about war and the loss of innocence. One student was inspired to share with the cast what she’d learned about the Vietnam War in an anthropology course.
“It’s been an extremely positive rehearsal process,” said Kenny. “Despite its dark subject matter, the show has incredible heart, a hauntingly beautiful score and a story that will stay with you long after it’s over. I hope it starts conversations among the audience and community.”
The production is for mature audiences, and contains vivid depictions of wartime combat, including the use of stage weapons, fog, haze, strobe lights and sounds of gunfire and explosions. Some audience members may find these images disturbing.