Monthly Archives: April 2018

Dogfight at Western Reserve Playhouse Manages to Make Everyone a Winner

Review by: Kevin Kelly
I remember when I was in grade school gym class, they would have to split up the teams through something called “Shirts and Skins.” It was horrible for two reasons, One, I always ended up being a skin, which is with my shirt off. and Two, I was always the last to be picked. I hated it. It certainly was the beginning of my first complex. Being judged by other people was not the best emotional experience to have at such a young age. I couldn’t change who I was, or how I looked at the time, and up until that moment of being a fat kid without a shirt on pretending to be excited that you got picked for a team when you know something was terribly wrong because you felt like shit afterward. Well the musical Dogfight, currently enjoying a very solid production at Western Reserve Playhouse, certainly triggered some uncomfortable memories. The production does not shy away from the issues at hand, nor the surrounding atmospheric disturbance addressed which is the Vietnam War.
In 1991, Nancy Savoca directed the film “Dogfight” which was written by Bob Comfort. The movie talked about Marines who planned a “Dogfight” before they were deployed to Vietnam. The referenced fight was a cruel game where each marine would go out and try to find the ugliest girl, and bring them to a bar and then dance with them as the girls were judged as to the winner, which was not a congratulatory gesture for the unknowing women involved. The Marine who won got to win the pot of money that each contestant contributed to. This is the material that was used for this musical adaptation of the story. It enjoys the brilliant talents of musicians Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. The current Broadway darlings having just written the music for “Dear Evan Hansen” on Broadway. The book was delivered by Peter Duchan.
The show begins in 1967, where Eddie Birdlace (Kyle Burnett), as U.S. Marine, is returning from San Francisco. During his ride, he reflects back to the memories of a waitress Rose Fenny (Kimberly Sullivan), where the show becomes a flashback of his tumultuous past. Now, we are transported to a bus full of Marines, fresh out of training and arriving in San Francisco for a night out. Birdlace and his two wingmen Boland (Maximillan Winer) and Bernstein (Zachery Palumbo), who together like to call themselves The Three Bees, are ready to initiate a dogfight that night by throwing in $50 a piece, winner take all. All the Marines are in, and off to scour the town for unsuspecting females.
Birdlace ends up in the diner, where he meets Rose, a waitress. He woos her a bit and decides she is a good contestant for the dogfight. She is naive, a virgin, and ready for a date that she rarely ever gets a chance to have. On the other hand, Boland invites Marcy (Nian Takacs), a wisecracking, fishnet loving, breast line plunging prostitute that is up for the challenge as long as she gets paid as well. Bernstein finds himself with Ruth Two Bears (Kaleigh Velette). She of Indian descent and the strength of two bears, as you will find out on the dance floor.
As the party progresses, Birdlace has a change of heart and tries to change plans, but Rose takes that as he is embarrassed by her, so after much discussion, he relents and they go in. The judged dance begins sung by the Lounge Singer (Kevin Cline), and eventually, Marcy wins, as well as her handler Boland. However, in a girls moment in the women’s bathroom, Marcy shares with Rose what is really going on, which causes Rose to confront Birdlace, and returns home defeated and devastated. Now its time for last call and the Marines head out to have their way with prostitutes, but Birdlace is too wrecked about what happened and returns to Rose to apologize and start over by going to dinner.
After dinner, they take in a romantic view from the Golden Gate Bridge, and return home to experience their “first time,” It is also the first time to fully appreciate that she wants to be judged by who she is, and not what people want or think she should be. The next morning, he leaves, and unfortunately, it is time to deploy.
The deployment is devastating and virtually become the last man standing event. Birdlace returns, as we find him at the beginning of the show, hurt, bitter, broken, and longing to return to the safest moment he can remember. Rose. They reconcile. And for a moment, the world is good.
Burnett gives one of his best performances to date. He is centered, fully committed, and in total control of his storyline. His voice soars when it needs to, and provides quiet sensibility. Winer would definitely be the president of the Marine fraternity. His machismo is infectious, and he knows how to play a dick when need be, and the raucous best friend when you need one. Really great character work. Palumbo is so freaking funny, and adorable. He plays the guy that everyone picks on, but everyone would kill anyone else did the same. He is a complete joy to watch! Great work. Kevin Cline is as flexible as Cirque du Soleil. He plays about 10 characters in this show and each one is dead on with comedic flair, character work, up to tattoo butch realness. His Lounge Singer needs to be booked in every whiskey joint in the area. The Bee Ensemble is great. Stevens (Daniel Hunsicker), Fector (Ben Arrignton), and  Gibbs (Brian Innenberg) provide some kick ass camaraderie, along with Ryan Dyke and Steven Schuerger.
The women bring some power of their own. Sullivan conveys a very poignant interpretation to Rose. Her voice crystal clear and handles the music with efficient ease. She also switches nicely when she has to serve up some reality to Birdlace, in a great display of showing someone’s other side. Embarrassment can be lighter fluid in many of us, and she lets that ring quite clear through her performance. Nice work. It is hard to be the nice girl throughout a show, but she finds the moments to reflect the characters layers nicely. Takacs is on fire as Marcy. I am surprised there is any set left, once she is done chewing on every piece of scenery. She is fiery, funny, and blunt. Her character is great and practically steals the show. Her voice compliments her acting choices well. If they really wanted to end the war, they should air drop Marcy, and she will take care of the front line for sure. Can I just say that having a role that doesn’t say a line, but brings down the house in the funniest way is a tremendous compliment to an actor. This accolade goes to Kaleigh Velette as Ruth Two Bears. The way her character handles Bernstein is a hot mess of comedic brilliance. Bravo. The girls are supported by a resilient company including Micayla Carafelli, Kayla Lehman, and Dorata Zarzycha. Diane Roberts turns in some very nice moments as Mama.
I will say that the theatre still has to work on the mic skills. This has been a consistent problem in past shows, where mics are not on early enough, or just out. After listening and experiencing the war scene, and the tremendous sound work, there has to be a solution. That war fight scene rocked.
This production is well done, interesting and provacative. Helmed by Dawn, the cast is really all in, and throw their raw talents at every piece of material. The show is guided by moments of devastating truth, and humor, which at times, will definitely make you blush. It did me. The Musical Direction is led by David Stebbins, and his band seems to have a blast churning out this exciting score. Stage Manager Whiney Miller called a great show. Technical Director Jim Gremba brought all the elements together nicely. Set design worked well under Sniadak-Yamokoski vision. Costumer Kelsey Tomlinson had a great theme throughout the show and certainly made the dance scene more interesting. Choreographer Elyse Morchel provided just the right moves to the men that worked great, without over choreographing the show. Lighting Design was on point, especially with the war scene. Great stuff. Noah Hrbek turned in a great backdrop of the Golden Gate bridge. Incredible work.
Dogfight was a great choice for this theatre, which is pushing itself to expand the offerings, and build and create different opportunities for patrons.

Our Second Review is in for “Dogfight” – The “stellar cast should get a medal for combat detail”

CLEVE REVIEW: Western Reserve Playhouse Instills Heart and Humanity Into Disturbing Musical ‘Dogfight’

Cast members of  Western Reserve Playhouse’s “Dogfight” (Photo credit: Chris Douglas)

WHO: Western Reserve Playhouse

WHAT: Dogfight, music and lyrics by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul and book by Peter Duchan; directed by Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski, musical direction by Dave Stebbins

WHEN: Now through April 28; performances Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm (except April 21st); Sundays 2pm and 6:30pm.WHERE: Western Reserve Playhouse, 3326 Everett Road in Bath

HOW: For tickets and more information, please visit the official website at www.westernreserveplayhouse.org

All is not fair in love and war. If you want proof, no need to look any further than the stage musical Dogfight, which is currently playing at Western Reserve Playhouse through April 28.

Featuring music and lyrics by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul and book by Peter Duchan, Dogfight pulls no punches in its depiction of how harsh and heartless life can be during wartime. Specifically, the plot focuses on three Marine recruits in the 1960s. As they are about to be deployed to Southeast Asia, the close friends take part in a cruel contest by inviting female friends to a dance to judge who is the most unattractive. Needless to say, the men leave many victims in their wake even before they step on enemy soil.

The storyline is not an easy one to applaud, which is why director Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski, musical director Dave Stebbins, and choreographer Elyse Morckel should be commended for their service above and beyond the call of duty. Together they bring out the heart and humanity of the piece, so that by the end of the show you are sympathizing with the characters instead of despising them.Sniadak-Yamokoski’s stellar cast should get a medal for combat detail. They giving powerful portrayals of the deceptive soldiers and the unsuspecting innocents who fall for their trap. Kimberly Sullivan is particularly admirable in the central role of Rose, who goes from heaven to heartbreak after being asked out on a date. Kyle Burnett is intensely conflicted as the young man who immediately regrets getting Rose involved.

Everyone in the ensemble rises through the ranks to offer energetic and emotional performances, including Nina Takacs, Kaleigh Velette, Maximillian Winer, Zachary Palumbo, Daniel Hunsicker, Ben Arrington, Brian Innenberg, Diane Roberts, Kevin Cline, Kayla Lehman, Micayla Carafelli, Ryan Dyke, Dorota Zarzycka and Steven Schuerger.

The on-point orchestra includes Cameron Stebbins on cello, Maclaine Stebbins on percussion and cello, and Alex Kenrick on guitar.

A terrific technical team at WRP reported for duty to set the stage for the show. Jim Gremba serves as technical director, costumer Kelsey Tomlinson provided the regulation uniforms, Kevin Rutan provided excellent lighting, and Sniadak-Yamokoski created the set design.

“The Word is Out, WRP is the Place to be for Good Theater.”

‘Superior’ directing featured in WRP’s ‘Dogfight’

4/19/2018 – West Side Leader

By David Ritchey

Shown is a scene from Western Reserve Playhouse’s “Dogfight.”
Photo: Chris Douglas

BATH — The war in Vietnam was growing and more American combat troops were called to fight. Western Reserve Playhouse’s (WRP) production of “Dogfight,” which runs through April 28, tells the story of soldiers during the night before they leave San Francisco to go to battle in 1963. This group of U.S. Marines will leave family, friends and sweethearts.These Marines have planned a dogfight — a party. Simply stated, a dogfight is a mean-spirited party. Each man contributes money, and after the dance, a judge selects the ugliest girl. The man who brought the winning girl (the ugliest) gets all of the money in the pot.

Birdlace (Kyle Burnett) stops by a diner for a little food and drink and is still looking for a date for the dogfight party. He’s a friendly guy who wants to participate in the party.

Rose (Kimberly Sullivan) is the waitress who serves him. He invites Rose to the party and finally succeeds in convincing her to go with him. Their lives are changed by this date.

The Marines seem to know their lives will be changed forever by this dogfight and their roles in Vietnam.

The lounge singer (Kevin Cline) appears in various scenes and offers the young Marines advice. The lounge singer knows the ways of the military and helps the Marines fine stability on the last night before they leave for the next chapter in their lives.

Ruth Two Bears (Kaleigh Velette) is one of the guests at the party. The playwright gave her some tough lines and physical action. She earned applause and cheers from women in the audience.

In the second act, our Marines make it to battle. They brag their training was good enough to keep them alive. They are scared. The whistle of bullets flying by the Marines makes out heroes aware of the seriousness of the situation.

Remember, this is a musical. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul wrote the music and lyrics. Peter Duchan wrote the book. The play is based on the Warner Brothers film and screenplay by Bob Comfort.

In WRP’s production, David Stebbins is the music director. Cameron Stebbins (cello) and Maclane Stebbins (percussion and cello) are the sons of David Stebbins. Alex Kenrick (guitar), a professional guitarist, contributes to the production.

Elyse Morckel is a gifted choreographer who designed the marches of the Marines as dances and choreographed the drunken dogfight party.

WRP Artistic Director Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski serves as director and set designer for the show. She designed a set that made room on the stage for a large cast and big dance numbers. The set included a large painting of the Golden Gate Bridge swallowed by mountains of fog. Noah Hrbek is the scenic artist who painted the fog-shrouded bridge.

Kelsey Tomlinson (costumer) designed the military uniforms, the clothes for the women at the dogfight party and a great costume for the lounge singer.

Sniadak-Yamokoski kept the show running at break-neck speed. She is known locally as an excellent performer. However, after you see “Dogfight,” you’ll know she is a superior director.

Sniadak-Yamokoski and Co-Artistic Director Brian Westerley have brought new life into WRP. They’ve turned WRP into a place to go for superior theater. They’re bringing new scripts to their audiences and staging those scripts in innovative ways.

After the opening night performance, a friend said, “This is the best production I’ve seen in a long, long time.” In the past when I saw a show at WRP, the theater was not fully filled. On opening night of “Dogfight,” the seats were mostly filled. The word is out, WRP is the place to be for good theater. Don’t miss “Dogfight.”

Announcing the Cast of “bare: A Pop Opera”!

Western Reserve Playhouse is thrilled to announce the cast of “bare: A Pop Opera”!
 
JASON – Nick Urbanic
PETER – Nick Sobotka
IVY – Laney Davis
NADIA – Korinne Courtwright
MATT – Dominic Sonby
LUCAS – Daniel Hunsicker
TANYA – Kayla Lehman
KYRA – Khylee Kridler
DIANE – Olivya DeLuca
RORY – Brooke Lytton
ZACK – Mark David
ALAN – Ben Arrington
CLAIRE – Stephanie Malfara
SR. CHANTELLE – Dayshawnda Ash
PRIEST – David Rusnak
 
The show runs July 13-28, 2018!

Talented Performer Diane Roberts Takes on Maternal Role in Western Reserve Playhouse’s ‘Dogfight’

Mother’s Day came early this year for talented performer Diane Roberts, who was cast in the role of Mama in Dogfight. She is a familiar face on the local theatre scene — she’s been acting, singing and dancing for 22 years.

This time out, Diane gets to portray the concerned mother of a young woman who is the target of a cruel joke played by a group of Marines.

Western Reserve Playhouse is presenting Dogfight now through April 28. The show features music and lyrics by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, and book by Peter Duchan. It is being directed by Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski, with musical direction by Dave Stebbins. The venue is located at 3326 Everett Road in Bath. For tickets and more information, please visit the official website at www.westernreserveplayhouse.org.

LandOfCleve: Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

Diane: I was born and grew up in Toledo, Ohio.

LandOfCleve: Where do you live now, and where do you work?

Diane: I live in Kirtland with my husband and bunny, and I work at System Seals in Garfield Heights. I am the assistant to the President of a fluid power seal company.

LandOfCleve:  What are your other Northeast Ohio connections?

Diane: I have been living in Northeast Ohio since 2005, and have some family and many friends in the area.

LandOfCleve: How did your background and education prepare you to work as a performer?

Diane: My previous experience and training has helped me be fully prepared and confident for auditions and make smart choices on stage.

Diane Roberts (center) with castmates from Garfield Hts.’ “The Drowsy Chaperone”

LandOfCleve: What are a few of your favorite past stage and/or film experiences?

Diane: My favorite roles were Polly in Crazy for You, Mrs. Tottendale in The Drowsy Chaperone and a dancing old lady in The Producers.

LandOfCleve: What is your past experience with Western Reserve Playhouse?

Diane: This is my first show at Western Reserve Playhouse.

LandOfCleve: Tell us about your current production Dogfight and what role you are playing.

Diane: Dogfight is a musical by Pasek and Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, The Greatest Showman) set in the 1960s in San Francisco. The plot focuses on a group of Marines setting off for Vietnam. They decide to have a “dogfight” contest where the Marine who brings the ugliest girl to the party wins. I play Mama, the mother of Rose.

LandOfCleve: What are some of the rewards and challenges of doing this show?

Diane: Rewards for me are being in such a high caliber production with such talented performers and being in a show that is really edgy, funny and sad all in one. Some challenges would be making it through the war scene without crying and putting on a production that may not be publicly acceptable with an older theatre community. This is not your traditional musical, and that’s why I love it.

LandOfCleve: How have the director, cast and crew come together to bring this show to life?

Diane: Because of the cohesiveness of everyone from Dawn, Whitney, Dave, Elise, et al, this has been a thoroughly enjoyable production to work on, with a unique voice that needs to be heard. It is an excellent show.

LandOfCleve: What are your dream roles or projects you’d like to act in the future?

Diane: I would love to be Mrs. Johnstone in Blood Brothers, Diana in Next to Normal and Margaret in Carrie the Musical.

Diane (right) with cast members from “Crazy For You” at Kent State Stark

LandOfCleve: What advice do you have for aspiring performers?

Diane: Practice your craft. Don’t take things so personally. Ask questions. Be present. Be prepared. Be passionate about what you do. Have fun. Don’t take yourself so seriously!

LandOfCleve: Anything else you would like to add or promote?

Diane: Please come see Dogfight, running now through April 28th at Western Reserve Playhouse.

SHOW DETAILS

WHO: Western Reserve Playhouse


WHAT: Dogfight, music and lyrics by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul and book by Peter Duchan; directed by Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski, musical direction by Dave Stebbins

WHEN: Now through April 28; performances Fridays & Saturdays at 8pm (except April 21st); Sundays 2pm and 6:30pm.

WHERE: Western Reserve Playhouse, 3326 Everett Road in Bath

HOW: For tickets and more information, please visit the official website at www.westernreserveplayhouse.org

It’s November 21, 1963. On the eve of their deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery, partying and maybe a little trouble. But, when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress whom he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she rewrites the rules of the game and teaches him the power of love and compassion.

Artistic Director Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski directs the show, with musical direction by Dave Stebbins.

The cast includes Kimberly Sullivan, Kyle Burnett, Nina Takacs, Kaleigh Velette, Maximillian Winer, Zachary Palumbo, Daniel Hunsicker, Ben Arrington, Brian Innenberg, Diane Roberts and Kevin Cline, along with Kayla Lehman, Micayla Carafelli, Ryan Dyke, Dorota Zarzycka and Steven Schuerger.

Show Times: 8pm Fridays & Saturdays (except April 21st); 2pm and 6:30pm Sunday.

Tickets: $17.00 Adults; $15.00 Seniors & Students.

To reserve tickets, please visit our website: www.westernreserveplayhouse.org

The venue is located at 3326 Everett Rd., Bath, OH 44286.

Get Your Tickets Before It Sells Out!

TICKETS ON SALE NOW!  GET YOURS BEFORE THIS SHOW SELLS OUT!

Photo Credit – Chris Douglas

Western Reserve Playhouse presents the musical Dogfight, as it continues its successful 2018 season. Dogfight, with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and book by Peter Duchan, will run April 13,14,20,27,28 & April 22, 2018 – Our Sunday, April 22 show has TWO shows one at 2PM and one at 6:30PM

It’s November 21, 1963. On the eve of their deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery, partying and maybe a little trouble. But, when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress whom he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she rewrites the rules of the game and teaches him the power of love and compassion.

Artistic Director Dawn Sniadak-Yamokoski directs this amazing show, with musical direction by Dave Stebbins.

Kimberly Sullivan, Kyle Burnett, Nina Takacs, Kaleigh Velette, Maximillian Winer, Zachary Palumbo, Daniel Hunsicker, Ben Arrington, Brian Innenberg, Diane Roberts and Kevin Cline grace the WRP stage, with ensemble work from Kayla Lehman, Micayla Carafelli, Ryan Dyke, Dorota Zarzycka and Steven Schuerger.

Show Times: 8PM Fridays & Saturdays (except April 21st); 2PM and 6:30PM Sunday.

Tickets: $17.00 Adults; $15.00 Seniors & Students.

To reserve tickets, please visit our website: www.westernreserveplayhouse.org

The venue is located at 3326 Everett Rd., Bath, OH 44286.

Meet the Cast of “Dogfight”