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.