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The Australian production of Pasek & Paul's off-broadway hit, DOGFIGHT, premiered at the Hayes Theatre Co May 1-31 2015. See what the critics had to say...
Dogfight entertains generously, satisfies emotionally, and for once you can watch a musical derived from a film and not know exactly what's going to happen
Lucente and Cole are first-rate in their roles. The chiseled Lucente looks pure soldier, has the acting chops to trace Birdlace's trajectory from cocky youth to broken man, and he possesses a voice that can crack a song open
Cole, who has to affect a hunched stance in order to find a semblence of ugliness, is delightful as Rose and she shines in Some Kind of Wonderful and the folky little heartbreaker Give Way
Lucente and Cole sing beautifully together, chime comically in a winning little scene set in a swell restaurant, and develop some touching chemistry as their halting romance suddenly blooms into something physical
There's standout support from Toby Francis as Eddie's toxic buddy Boland and Rowan Witt as Bernstein, the most naive of the "three B's". Johanna Allen is funny and fierce as Marcy, the broken-toothed prostitute Boland hires to give himself a competitive edge at the dogfight
Jason Blake, The Sydney Morning Herald
Cole is beguiling, capturing Rose's vulnerability and gaucheness (helped by Elizabeth Franklin's excellent costuming), but also her spiritedness and humour, while her pure voice suits the character's innocence perfectly
Lucente conveys the emotional turmoil beneath Eddie's tough exterior in a beautifully understated performance that moves from bravado to brokenness. Both moved me to tears
Among a strong ensemble, Toby Francis and Rowan Witt exude pumped-up aggression as Eddie's best mates, while Johanna Allen unleashes powerhouse vocals as the brassy hooker Marcie, another of the so-called "dogs"
James Browne and Georgia Hopkins have designed a striking, economical set backed by a gauzy "brick wall" scrim through which we glimpse the six-piece band led by musical director Isaac Hayward
Jo Litson, The Sunday Telegraph
It's so satisfying and rare to see a piece of musical theatre done so well, which makes Dogfight a genuine must-see. This is amongst the best work to come out of the Hayes in its short life — it's certainly the most confident
it's performed with great nuance and detail by Hilary Cole and Luigi Lucente, who are perfectly matched and generate a hell of a lot of electricity in the intimate Hayes space
It's brought to life with verve and versatility by musical director Isaac Hayward and his small band
Cole steals the show in her musical numbers, particularly the heart-breaking, bittersweet Pretty Funny, and her fiery, show-stopping duet Dogfight, with Johanna Allen as Marcy
Cole and Lucente are able to shine so brightly because the entire production around them is first rate, including fine supporting performances
Ben Neutze, Daily Review
Dogfight remains an overall fresh, clever and entertaining new musical that punches – like so many Hayes shows – well above its weight
There is nothing worn or tired about this musically vibrant, thematically rich piece, and Neil Gooding's production is a fantastic, exciting execution, both musically and dramatically
This production is at its best when the extraordinary Hilary Cole is at the reigns. She is mesmerising as Rose
The much-relied-on ensemble are a delight in the many complex and unique songs that Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have woven into the story, each cast member genuinely expanding or extending their narrative moment while wowing with extraordinary complex harmonies and asynchronous rhythms
Giles Hardie, Time Out Sydney
Neil Gooding (Producer/Director) presents DOGFIGHT with a fabulous balance of energy, pathos, sensitivity, compassion and empathy
Cole stands out as the young woman whose forgiveness and innocence balances the disgusting behavior of the boys
Choreographer Camilla Jakimowicz gives the show an energy and realism without the usual musical pastiche
The music employs unusual harmonies that the cast deliver with power and passion and the tempo and the tone are often reminiscent of Sondheim's songs
This production is a must see for musical theatre fans, those that like the analysis of human behavior, lovers of love stories and those with an interest in history
Jade Kops, Broadway World
It's a very strong musical – the music (led extraordinarily well in this production by musical director Isaac Hayward) borrows its harmonies from sixties pop, mostly (with a lovely lean towards folk for Rose, the music of her choosing), but it doesn't feel dated
Gooding is a very fine director of musical theatre because he has a great internal understanding of the form and its various quirks
The score is invigorating, the simple but effective set dominated by an evocative scrim (design by James Browne and Georgia Hopkins), and the show is so well-cast that it's brought to vivid, assured life – there's not a single vocal weak link and the performances are uniformly impressive
Allen's powerhouse vocals are channelled with hard-hitting focus into "Dogfight"
Lucente has a leading man voice, assured and full and rich with a vulnerable twinge
It's remarkable how Cole can be so measured and complex without ever feeling measured; there's an authenticity and warmth to her that's completely irresistible, and there seems to be no end to her promise
Dogfight is a show that doesn't compromise. It is smart. It has an intelligent book and insightful, energising lyrics, set to a strong, solid score that is difficult to forget.
Cassie Tongue, Aussie Theatre
Director Neil Gooding, choreographer Camilla Jakimowicz, and set designers James Brown and Georgia Hopkins have crafted a taut, simple, eloquent production
It's sensitive, transformational performances from Luigi Lucente and Hilary Cole in the pivotal roles of initially tough young Marine Eddie Birdlace, and the insecure young waitress Rose, that take the piece to a whole different place
A feisty Johanna Allen fires in the high impact role of Marcy, the outspoken call-girl one of Eddie's buddies pays to be his date and help him win the Dogfight, packing a broad comic punch, with an affecting edge of pathos
As Eddie's marine buddies, Toby Francis and Rowan Witt are excellent, convincingly creating two very different young men
Another compelling night of musical theatre at the Hayes!
Neil Litchfield, Stage Whispers
Dogfight is a wonderful musical, full of brio and romance but it also leaves you with something to think about.
Hilary Cole really sparkles. She is funny, touching and honest as the emotionally intelligent heart of the show.
Johanna Allen provided the "Wow" throughout the show, especially with her tragicomic portrayal of Peggy. She has a spectacular, rich voice that made the very most of her big furious number, Dogfight.
Luigi Lucente has a gorgeous voice and did a fine job as the intense, emotionally pent up, conflicted Eddie Birdlace. Toby Francis as the central cad, Rowan Witt as the green Jewish virgin and the multiple roles played by Mark Simpson all stand out. Collectively, however, it is the joyful and highly accomplished harmonies of the whole male ensemble that drives this show.
The boys' sublime harmonising channels the tight harmonies of the early 1960s with groups like the Temptations and The Four Seasons.
The creative team – Director Neil Gooding, Musical Director Isaac Hayward and Choreographer Camilla Jakimowicz – have done a tremendous job
Rebecca Whitton, Australian Stage
The vocal talent was undeniable, especially in the male ensemble numbers.
Hilary Cole as Rose Fenny was a standout. Managing to create a gentle voice against the overwhelming anger and entitlement of the military men, Ms. Cole advocated the peace and love within Rose beautifully.
Applause are deserved by the band, with fantastic effort being exerted by each musician to play a complicated and very catchy score.
Without risks being taken on shows like this one, the Australian theatre scene would not grow and evolve to contain musicals that discuss such heavy themes as those explored in Dogfight.
Maddi Ostapiw, Theatre People