Dogfight – or, extolling the virtues of Off Broadway

by Louise, Community Manager

The instinct when you come to New York is to head right for the Great White Way, sit in a 1,000 seat theater and watch a big show, right? And I definitely support that instinct – you SHOULD go to a Broadway show. You should go to five Broadway shows, if you want my honest opinion. But I have been reminded several times recently how important it is to not forget about some of the amazing things that are happening Off Broadway.

More than anything, the 2012 Tony’s brought this into perspective. The two top Tony winners in 2012 were Once with 8 Tony Awards and Peter & the Starcatcher with 5. Both of these shows transferred to Broadway from Off Broadway runs. Those who explore the Off Broadway offerings saw both these shows before they were sensations. It’s now nearly impossible to see Once for less than $160 per ticket, while those in the know enjoyed it for less than $100 a ticket during its Off Broadway run. Explore Off Broadway during your visit to NYC and you never know when you could be seeing the next big thing.

Why am I rambling about this today? Because last night, my colleague Kelly and I ventured Off Broadway to see the new musical Dogfight at Second Stage, and it was as good or better as any new show I’ve seen on Broadway this year.

Dogfight tells the story of three young marines preparing to be deployed to Vietnam in 1963. It’s their last night stateside and they plan to participate in a “Dogfight” – a party wherein every man brings the ugliest woman he can find, and the man with the ugliest date wins a prize. Eddie Birdlace, one of the “Three B’s” as he and his friends Bernstein and Boland call themselves, ends up asking Rose – a shy and awkward young waitress from a diner where he stops for coffee. Rose’s initial overwhelming excitement over being asked on a date is dashed when she finds out the true nature of the party, and her reaction leads to a life-changing emotional journey for both her and Eddie.

From the opening number where the marines celebrate the start of their night of debauchery to a heart-wrenching final ballad from Eddie, the songs in Dogfight are alternately fun, moving, and gorgeous (or all three). In particular, I loved Rose’s buoyant song following being asked out by Eddie, sung in her bedroom as she decides what to wear and tries to keep herself calm, and Eddie and Rose’s song as they awkwardly stroll down the street together, neither of them really knowing what to say.

Kelly and I were drawn to Dogfight in particular due to leading lady Lindsay Mendez, seen most recently on Broadway in Godspell, one of our top picks from the 2011-2012 season. Mendez is superb in the role of Rose, fully embodying the awkward, shy clumsiness of the character and filling all of Second Stage with her tremendous and beautiful voice. Mendez is joined by Derek Klena, seen most recently in the Off-Broadway revival of Carrie, who absolutely blew me away in his moving and heartbreaking portrayal of Eddie. As Eddie’s marine buddies, Nick Blaemire (also most recently seen in Godspell) and Josh Segarra (most recently seen in Lysistrata Jones, another of our 2011-2012 favorites) were fantastic – although we were a little sad to see them playing, for lack of a better word, jerks. The entire supporting cast is excellent, and this is an ensemble that truly seems to enjoy performing together, which for me always brings a show to a whole other level.

Dogfight is playing at Second Stage through August 12th, and with it being somewhat of a lean summer in terms of Broadway offerings, I highly suggest you consider checking it out while you’re in town. There is no predicting what will happen with limited run Off Broadway premiers, but as I mentioned initially, this is how both Once and Peter & the Starcatcher began their journeys towards being two of the most successful productions of the 2011-2012 Broadway season. Come 2013, will we see a big, flashy high budget production take home the top prize, or something smaller and more understated with tons of heart? I don’t know about you, but heart always gets my vote.

Interested in seeing Dogfight or another Off Broadway show on your trip to NYC? E-mail me at and I’ll be happy to assist you!


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