Dogfight Preparation and Research – FMP

I was extremely pleased to find out that one of the ideas that I initially suggested made it into the final cut of ideas to be used in our final project, and that I would be involved in it made it even more exciting. Dogfight the Musical is a show that I have enjoyed the music of for a long while, however have never had the opportunity to explore further in a practical capacity before but have always wanted to as the music is so well composed and cleverly uses the different characters to drive the style of the songs.

Although I proposed to use the musical and theme in my original presentation, I didn’t specify which songs I definitely wanted to do, however I did make several suggestions as to ones I thought fit the theme best, and later in the email I sent Lynn I also suggested several more, including the song ‘Come to a Party’, which is the song I will be performing in in our final project along with Tom Barber.

When speaking to Lynn about the song, on receiving the first running order of the show, she spoke about how she thought some of the lyrics might need to be tweaked or adapted to fit the theme and context of the characters we are playing in ‘Saints and Sinners’ and to fit with the overall narrative arch. Tom Barber’s character is a member of the group of ‘Posh’ boys and therefore will likely be talking in a well refined RP accent, which doesn’t necessarily match the Americanisms that feature in the lyrics of the song chosen. This only seems to be a big problem in the opening section of Tom’s verse and I am sure we could easily sit together and rework the lyrics so that they made better sense to our version. Nevertheless, the parts where Rose interjects saying that ‘she still has to work’ etc are really fitting to my character (a waitress) and would work well in the context of our show.

I have decided to stick with the name Rose for my character as I felt that it was fitting to all the various scenes and moments I have over the course of the show and it meant that we didn’t have to worry about changing too many lyrics in ‘Come to a Party’ (as I know he references her name at times).

What is a ‘Dogfight’?

The Urban Dictionary defines a ‘Dogfight’ as:

“A contest, usually between Marines or military personnel, where each man pitches in around $50. With that money, they rent a bar or club, and the rest goes to prize money. The object is to get the ugliest girl to come with you as your date. The man with the ugliest date wins. There are specific rules:
1. They must be polite
2. They must buy the girl a drink
3. They must dance if they want to be judged
Dancing is final judging.”

Dogfight the Musical

  • Dogfight is a musical with music and lyrics by Pasek and Paul and book by Peter Duchan.
  • It is actually an adaptation of Nancy Savoca’s 1991 film, also titled Dogfight. 
  • The musical premiered Off-Broadway at the Second Stage Theatre in 2012, and in August 2014, the musical had its European premiere at the Southwark Playhouse in London.
  • The musical first opened on July 16, 2012 at the Second Stage Theatre, after previews from June 27, and concluded its limited run on August 19.
  • The show was directed by Joe Mantello and choreographed by Christopher Gattelli.
  • David Zinn designed sets and costumes and Paul Gallo designed the light
  • Its original production starred Lindsay Mendez as Rose, Derek Klena as Eddie, and Josh Segarra as Boland. The cast also included Nick Blaemire, Annaleigh Ashford, Steven Booth, Becca Ayers, Adam Halpin, Dierdre Friel, F. Michael Haynie, and James Moye.


What is the story of Dogfight?
“On November 21, 1963, a group of young marines is gathered in San Fransisco the night before they ship off to Vietnam. They decide to celebrate their last night of freedom with a cruel game they call a “dogfight” where every man sets out to find the ugliest girl he can and brings her to a party. Everyone puts in money, and the man with the ugliest date wins the pot. One of the young men taking part is Eddie Birdlace, who is running out of time to find a date when he meets idealistic waitress Rose Fenny in a diner.  He invites her to the party—her very first party—and she accepts. She leaves angrily when she finds out about the bet and Eddie, feeling bad, comes to find her. After an inauspicious beginning, an awkward love story begins to unfold.”


Come to a Party’

This is a clip of the scene where Eddie meets Rose at the diner and asks her to the party during ‘Come to a party’ as well as the scenes before and following the scene:


When watching the actors in the above clip during the scene, I noticed how how naturalistic their actions were and how their movements were driven by the song and the circumstances they were in; for example Rose carried out tasks such as cleaning down the surfaces and sweeping while singing which kept the feel of the scene very real and genuine. This is a skill and style I really appreciate and look for in musical theatre performances in particular, as I often find overly dramatic and stylised performances less effective and fake. So, when developing the characters for our performance in ‘Saints and Sinners’ I want to try and use this naturalistic style in mine and Tom’s own performances to keep it feeling like a scene rather than a ‘musical number’. Having worked with Tom in previous productions I am sure we will both be able to achieve this as we work well together and both have a similar acting styles that tend to be quite understated and natural on stage.


As previously mentioned, when speaking to Lynn she suggested going through the lyrics and highlighting the phrases and words that jumped out as being Americanisms or not making sense in the context of our own narrative and characters. Therefore, I have gone through the lyrics and done so, so that I can discuss this with Tom and think about potentially changing some lyrics around to fit our needs.


Eddie (Spoken):
Well I better shove off soon. Gotta get to a party. Say maybe you’d like to go with me.
Rose (Spoken):
A party? Oh well I um…
Eddie (Spoken):
Well if you don’t want to go just say so.
Rose (Spoken):
Well it’s just…I mean…I just met you.

Eddie (Sung):
Well you know my birthday now. Shown you my middle name.
See I’m an open book, have a look, this aint no pick up game.
I heard your pretty voice, then we saw eye to eye on all that music stuff,
not on fluff, we didn’t have to try. Now isn’t that rare, that kind of connection.
So why not come to a party with me, so why not come to this party.
A five piece band I’ll take your hand Rose and twirl you around.
Buy you a drink, don’t stop you think, say yes. Come to a party with me, just say yes.

Rose (Spoken):
I don’t know Eddie.

Eddie (Spoken):
My old man’s always sayin you can’t steal second base with your foot on first.
Sometimes you’ve gotta gamble Rose, you can bet on me.

Eddie (Sung):
Born in Buffalo, to humble Christian folks. My old man raised me right, real polite, no tellin dirty jokes.
A Wally Cleaver type, eat every Brussels sprout,
my mama’s pride and joy, golden boy, your average Eagle scout.
Now look in these eyes, they aint gonna hurt you.
So why not come to a party with me. Come on! It’s just a party.
A great excuse to cut it loose Rose and do what you feel. Hey just for a night, no holdin tight, let go.
Let’s go. Come to a party with me, gonna be a real nice time, Come On, what do you say?

Rose (Sung):
If I go, well you know mom would be here on her own. She would die,
I could lie, I couldn’t lie to my, if I go she would know.
Look I’m not ready, we’re closing and Eddie I still gotta work.
Come on don’t be a jerk. Give it back Eddie stop, look I still gotta mop,
Plus I don’t really drink. See I really don’t think I can come.

I can’t just get up and go. Mama needs me around.
I’d like to but I… Eddie come on, I’ve got work to do, please.

Eddie (Sung Overlapping Rose):
Come to this party with me, look you can’t miss this party.
You’ll meet my friends and when it ends Rose I’ll race you right home.
Oh why cap the knife, we’ll grab a bite, table for two, just me and you,
candles and wine and intertwine.

Rose’s Mother (Spoken):
Rose! Closin’ time now. Better run along.

Eddie (Sung):
You’ll miss out on one hell of a time. Should be one rousin party.
Well…I’m glad we met, I’ve gotta get, Rose, gosh you seem swell.
Still it’s a shame, I thought if you came, who knows. Maybe we coulda…

Eddie (Spoken):
Have a good night now.

Rose (Spoken):
Eddie wait! I’m goin with you okay! Just let me run upstairs and change.

Eddie (Spoken):

Rose (Spoken):

Eddie (Sung):
What a gem! What a pick in a pinch! What a girl for this party.
You’ll waltz her in, you’re set to win once you twirl her around.
She’ll be a smash, score you some cash. (Laughs)
Off to a party with you.

Link to Full Production of Dogfight 


I thought it was important to watch the whole production of Dogfight The Musical and so found a live recording on YouTube so I could get a full idea of the shows Context and how the song fits into the rest of the story. Although the song ‘Come to a party’  features at the beginning of the musical and subsequently only the first two videos on the playlist are essential to watch to get an idea of the context I thought it was important to watch the full production to get an idea of how the characters develop and how the story is resolved.

I also thought it would help me build my character of Rose, as although I am not going to solely be playing her as a character, I think it would be useful to observe her characteristic so I could use lots of her qualities to mould my own version of the character.



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