Dogfight, playing now through May 17 at Green Valley Theatre Company, definitely fits into the “Something Else” category of the company’s slogan: Classics. Comedy. And Something Else.
The story follows U.S. Marine Eddie Birdlace and the shy waitress Rose Fenny, whose relationship starts off on absolutely terrible footing. Eddie and his fellow Marines are participating in a dogfight — a cruel game with simple rules — each Marine puts $50 in the pot, and the man who brings the ugliest date to the party wins the money. Eddie asks Rose to come with him, not mentioning the dogfight, and things go downhill very fast when she finds out about it.
The show’s plot defies widely-held musical theater standards. There is no “I Want” song to start things off (think “Part of Your World,” from The Little Mermaid or “Free” from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum). You are thrown straight into the action as the Marines try to find dates for the dogfight, and then you follow two very disparate story arcs in Eddie and Rose. Their journeys intersect for a good portion of the show, but each is a complete story in its own right. And though the plot is relatively simple, the emotional content makes the show more complex.
It is perhaps the defiance of these theater norms that makes Dogfight so interesting.
Green Valley’s production — as is the usual for Green Valley — is very good. The show has a solid cast, good tech, and is a shining example of what a community theatre in Sacramento can do.
Casey Camacho and Jennifer Morrison lead the cast as Eddie and Rose, and they are both excellent in their roles. Camacho is simultaneously charming and horrible — we know what he’s really up to when he asks Rose to go to a party with him — at the start. His character develops a lot throughout the show, and Camacho handles the emotional range very well. Morrison plays Rose with remarkable honesty and heart. Her rendition of “Isn’t it Funny,” the finale of Act I, is stunning.
Camacho and Morrison play very well off one another, and sing together beautifully. Their harmonies make me wish they had more duets.
The supporting cast is also very strong. Jonathan Reinhart-Cranmer as Boland and Mariana Seda as Marcy are particularly good. They sing wonderfully, and are excellent in their respective roles. I have seen both of them in other productions, and their versatility as performers is remarkable.
Also noteworthy for versatility: Scott Minor and Meredith Nixon play a handful of supporting roles each, and are practically chameleons, becoming very distinct characters in each scene.
The show was a solid offering on opening night, and it will continue to grow, develop, and get even better throughout the run. If previous Green Valley shows are any indication, you’ll want to buy your tickets soon before Dogfight sells out.
Tickets and more information can be found at greenvalleytheatre.com.