A 22-minute, boot camp-style workout is not usually how most musical rehearsals start. That is because most musicals are not like “Dogfight.”
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Department of Theatre and Dance opens their spring musical, “Dogfight,” on May 6.
Based on the 1991 film by the same name, “Dogfight” tells the story of a few young marines’ last night in San Francisco in 1963 before being shipped off to Vietnam. The marines plan to hold a dogfight a dance where the men try to bring the ugliest date, in which Eddie Birdlace meets Rose Fenny. Through different events, the two learn compassion and understanding from each other.
Actors and designers have been preparing for “Dogfight” differently than they have for shows in the past. Students have studied particular movies, musicians, books, choreography and workouts in order to best tell this story.
Haley Haupt, senior musical theatre major, plays the part of Rose Fenny. Her research for the show has gone beyond the rehearsal space and into her everyday life.
“I’ve been striving to surround myself in a world that Rose would have lived in,” Haupt said. “I’ve been keeping a journal for Rose in which I have been writing notes, quotes and posting pictures that I believe Rose would have put in.”
Haupt has also been focusing on the music of this show. The music is unlike an average, main stage musical as it is influenced by folk music of the show’s time period.
“Rose is learning to play the guitar in the show, so I have been learning guitar as well,” Haupt said. “I have been listening to folk artists of the 1960s on loop during my free time to really understand the influences Rose would have had on her music.”
Sam McLellan, junior musical theatre major, plays the part of Eddie Birdlace. His focus has been set on the soldiers of the Vietnam War.
“I needed to understand the feelings of the soldiers during the Vietnam War in order to first understand my character,” McLellan said. “Not only did I want to understand the trauma that soldiers felt in the war, but also the hardships they felt in the boot camp process.”
Everyone in the cast participates in the 22-minute, boot camp-style workouts at the beginning of each rehearsal. These workouts are just one of the ways that help the performers become their characters before they touch the script.
Alan Patrick Kenny, assistant professor of musical theatre and director of “Dogfight,” said the students have been very driven and passionate throughout the entire rehearsal process.
“The students truly own this show,” Kenny said. “Every part of this story is important to them and they have been pushing themselves to do the workouts and do the research. Their hard work and ownership of this show is infectious.”
The attention to detail, the intimate setting and the story being told will bring audiences to feel directly connected to the show. This show is unlike any other performance held on a UWSP stage.
Performances will be held in the Studio Theatre of the Noel Fine Arts Center on May 6 and 7 and May 11 to 13 at 7:30 p.m. Matinee performances will be held at 2:00 p.m. on May 7 and 8.
Tickets are $21 for adults, $20 for seniors, $16 for youth and $4.50 for students with University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point ID. Tickets are available at the UW-Stevens Point Information and Tickets Office, located in the Dreyfus University Center concourse, or by reserving them online through the Information and Tickets Office.