Cygnet Theatre's new season is off to a promising start with a heartfelt production of the little-known musical Dogfight. Based on an obscure 1991 film starring River Phoenix, Dogfight tells the story, through Peter Duncan's book and Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's music and lyrics, of a young, Vietnam-bound Marine and the woman he comes to love. But Dogfight is much more than that. After humiliating Rose (Caitie Grady) in an "ugliest girl" dance contest, macho Marine Eddie's (Patrick Osteen) better self aches to emerge. As an unlikely relationship grows during the course of the last night before Eddie is shipped overseas, he allows himself to become vulnerable in front of the insecure but brave woman he hurt so badly.
The rare stage musical where every song actually advances the story, Dogfight is engrossing on both psychological and historical levels: What's inherent in the DNA of a trained soldier, and what does it mean to be a man? Where, in men and women, does beauty reside? You can also appreciate Dogfight for its two leads. Grady is soulful and profoundly sympathetic as Rose; Osteen's Eddie is a subtly complex portrayal of a heart and mind divided by expectations and by a war that in turn divided a nation. The musical score is honest and un-showy, plus a memorable supporting cast complements these winning performances. The Sean Murray-directed Dogfight will stay with you and stir you.
Dogfight runs through Aug. 23 at the Old Town Theatre. $39-$60. cygnettheatre.com
Time is limited to to catch Intrepid Theatre Co.'s "unplugged" production of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. It's unplugged, says director (and star) Sean Yael-Cox, because the play is staged on a sparse set and without elaborate costume changes. In addition, a busy cast of seven portrays more than 20 characters. Although ragged in places, such as in the lengthy comic sequence that opens Act 2, Intrepid's Tale has much to admire, including Yael-Cox's versatility and stamina as both King Leontes and the comic thief Autolycus, a luminous Jo Anne Glover as wronged Queen Hermione, and outstanding double duty from Jacque Wilke as the formidable Paulina and a feisty shepherd.
The Winter's Tale runs through Aug. 2 at the Carlsbad Village Theatre. $25-$40. intrepidtheatre.org
—David L. Coddon
Theater reviews run weekly. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love is the Answer: A new rock-musical about a young woman who has to choose between the love of two very different men. Written, directed and composed by Gregg Brandalise, it opens for four performances on July 30 at the Broadway Theatre in Vista. broadwayvista.biz
Guys and Dolls: David R. Pearson will direct performances of this music-filled romantic comedy based on the stories of Damon Runyon. Opens July 31 at the Westminster Presbyterian Church Theatre in Point Loma. vanguardsd.org
A Midsummer Night's Dream: A free, outdoor performance of Shakespeare's fantastical romantic comedy. Part of the Balboa Park Centennial Celebration and presented by Fruitless Moon Productions, it opens for four performances Aug. 1 in Balboa Park's Zoro Garden.
That 24-Hour Thing: The premiere of six ten-minute plays written in less than 24 hours and with only eight hours to rehearse. Part of the San Diego International Fringe Festival, it happens on Aug. 2 at the Central Library in the East Village. sdfringe.org
Evita: A staged reading, featuring musical numbers, of the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about Argentinian first lady Eva Perón. It happens on Aug. 3 and Aug. 4 at the Cygnet Theatre in Old Town. cygnettheatre.com
The Music Man: The musical about a con-man who charms the townsfolk of River City into starting up a kids marching band so he can steal their money. Then things get complicated. Presented by Moonlight Stage Productions, it runs through Aug. 1 at the AVO Playhouse in Vista. moonlightstage.com
Kiss Me, Kate: A musical romcom about a Shakespearean touring company with so much drama backstage, the Bard himself would be jealous. It runs through Aug. 2 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
The Quality of Life: The San Diego premiere of a new play from Emmy Award-winning writer Jane Anderson (Mad Men) about two couples who form an unlikely bond in the face of tragedy despite their political differences. Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it runs through Aug. 2 at the Carlsbad Village Theatre. intrepidtheatre.org
Side By Side By Sondheim: A collection of some of musical theatre legend Stephen Sondheim's greatest hits. Includes songs from Gypsy, West Side Story, Follies and more. It runs through Aug. 9 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
Tartuffe, or The Hypocrite: Molière's 17th Century comedy about a scheming impostor attempting to ruin a French family's name. Part of the 19th annual Free Classics Series, it runs through Aug. 16 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
Dogfight: The local premiere of the musical about three Marines learning the power of compassion on the eve of his deployment to the Vietnam War. Presented by Cygnet Theatre Company, it runs through Aug. 23 at Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Unnecessary Farce: The comedic tale of an embezzling mayor trying to outrun his accountant, the law, and some hitmen as well. It runs through Aug. 23 at PowPAC Community Theatre in Poway. powpac.org
Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery: The West Coast premiere of playwright Ken Ludwig's clever adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Holmes tale, The Hound of the Baskervilles. It runs through Aug. 30 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Return to the Forbidden Planet: Shakespeare's The Tempest gets a sci-fi B-movie makeover complete with a classic-rock soundtrack. It runs through Sept. 6 at the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
Up Here: The world premiere of the new musical comedy about a computer repairman trying to find happiness and love despite his many neuroses. Composed by the duo behind Avenue Q and In Transit, it runs through Sept. 6 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org