Friday, October 2, 2015

Why did our Artistic Director choose DOGFIGHT?


Peter Marston Sullivan headshot "The first time I listened to Dogfight, I was on a road trip on my own, listening to potential musicals for our 2015 season. When I finally popped in the cast recording, I listened to it three times in a row, each time growing more confident that this show was perfect for BoHo.

Dogfight starts as a party – dynamic full-cast numbers bursting with energy. The music is melodic and funny, driven and exciting. As I listened, I found myself caught up in the fun of the soldiers… then I slowly began to realize that this “fun” was misguided. I almost felt guilty for enjoying it at the start. But as the songs became increasingly haunting and heartbreaking, the show revealed itself to be an awkward yet charming love story. One woman, Rose – an ungainly, naive wallflower - has such purity in heart and spirit that she trusts, forgives, and ultimately loves unconditionally. Though perhaps not gorgeous in a conventional way, it became very clear to me that she is by far the most beautiful person in the show.

Peter Marston Sullivan leads the Dogfight cast in rehearsal
Peter Marston Sullivan leads the Dogfight cast in rehearsal

The response from our Dogfight audiences so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Yet there are still many people that have been wary of the show because of its central premise: a dogfight. One of BoHo’s staunchest supporters told me, “I knew what a dogfight was and found it repulsive.” And she’s right - it is. What I found so profoundly moving about this show - more so than the fantastic music and script - was how there was pure beauty to be found amongst this backdrop of repulsion. At a time, the 1960s, when we were so sure, so proud, and ultimately so na├»ve, when dogfights were commonplace and over 50% of the population had never heard of Vietnam, amidst all of that, there is one sole spark of beauty that contrasts all of the ugliness. The fact that it comes from someone that these Marines characterize as “a dog” is, in its own way, ironic and powerful.

In case you’re wondering what that same supporter felt after watching the show, her words may say it best: "Vietnam is part of my history, my era. Dogfight was sometimes outright painful to watch – even without the dogfight. Recalling how very certain all of us were, whatever our beliefs, it’s just heartbreaking. BoHo never flinched from that. It takes immense art and sensitivity to tell this story. You helped the audience find beauty [in it.]”

When you see BoHo’s Dogfight, what awaits you is a story that grabs you right from the start with energy and enthusiasm, laughter and immensely likable characters. What you leave with, I hope, is a feeling of beauty and love, comfort in the fact that even when there is ugliness all around us, there is always beauty to be found. This is why I love this show. This is why I wanted to tell this story.”

Peter Marston Sullivan signature
Peter Marston Sullivan
BoHo Theatre Artistic Director

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