Off-Broadway's DOGFIGHT is based on Bob Comfort's 1991 film Dogfight, which starred River Phoenix and Lili Taylor. The musical adaptation debuted in June 2012 at Second Stage Theatre and has music and lyrics by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (NBC's SMASH, Broadway's A Christmas Story, The Musical) and a book by Peter Duchan. A majority of the story takes place on November 21, 1963. A group of Marines, on the eve of their deployment to Vietnam, spend a debaucherous night carousing and partying. The boys each bet they can find and dance with the homeliest woman, starting their "dogfight." Yet, once Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets the ungainly Rose, she shows him the power of empathy and changes the rules of the game.
DOGFIGHT opened on July 16, 2012 to rave reviews for its astonishingly tuneful and appealing music and for the incredible performance given by Lindsay Mendez (Broadway Revival of GODSPELL, Everyday Rapture, 2007 Broadway Revival of Grease). The musical was the recipient of the 2011 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater. In 2013, it won the Lucille Lortel Award for "Outstanding Musical" and "Outstanding Choreography."
Mendez sings the heartbreaking and surprisingly compassionate role of Rose with tangible conviction and stunning vocals. Her voice brilliantly radiates with charm and frantic energy as she gushes on "Nothing Short of Wonderful." After her heart is broken, she is poignantly enthralling on the embittered "Dogfight" and the beautifully tragic "Pretty Funny." Additionally, she shows thrilling and luminous strength on the gorgeous, anthem-like elegy "Before It's Over."
Corporal Eddie Birdlace, sung by Derek Klena (Off-Broadway Revival of Carrie), is imbued with believable energy and passion. He is fantastically naïve and charismatic throughout a majority of the tracks, saving his viscerally introspective change for late in the album. He beguiles on catchy, up-tempo numbers like "Some Kinda Time" and "Hey, Good-Lookin'." On the sweetly awkward "First Date/Last Night," he plants the seeds for his character's change. On the dark and emotionally charged "Come Back," he dazzles listeners with his perceptible tortured melancholy.
Tony Award Nominee Annaleigh Ashford (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde), who sings Marcy, is phenomenal on "Dogfight," showing an extraordinary skill for conveying a bitter, sardonic attitude through song.
The album masterfully captures Pasek and Paul's unforgettable score. For a musical set in 1963, I expected a slightly different sound--one that was more reminiscent of Grease's "Beauty School Drop Out." That sound is fully delivered on the fascinatingly cruel "That Face," which is resplendently sung by James Moye. Yet, a majority of the album has a truly pleasant and unexpectedly unique and intimately enchanting soft rock vibe.
DOGFIGHT (Original Cast Recording) is Produced for Records by Kurt Deutsch, Lawrence Manchester, Paul, and Pasek. The moving and evocative score was superbly Recorded and Mixed by Manchester at MSR Studios, New York City and Edited by Ryan Kelly and Angie Teo. Moreover, the album is admirably Mastered by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound.
Gohstlight Records' stirringly gorgeous and emotionally riveting DOGFIGHT (Original Cast Recording) was released digitally on April 30, 2013. Digital copies can be purchased at iTunes and Amazon. Physical copies of the album were released on May 21, and can be purchased anywhere music is sold.