Dogfight arrives on the Melbourne stage

Powerful themes, terrific score and performances

“Theatrical may be a small, independent theatre company but it has a huge heart and certainly punches above its weight,”

Pip Mushin and Theatrical's Andrew Gyopar.
Pip Mushin and Theatrical's Andrew Gyopar.

Beloved Melbourne director Pip Mushin describes Dogfight as “uplifting, heartfelt and inspiring, while at times confronting and sad”.

Mushin explains the premise as unusual and original.

Set in San Francisco in 1963, as America was just coming to terms with sending its sons off to fight, young Marine Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress whom he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow US Marine recruits. But, she rewrites the rules of the game and in turn, teaches him the power of love and compassion.

“It starts off with a rather cruel chauvinistic ritual and turns into a heartfelt, beautiful love story,” he wrote to The AJN ahead of Dogfight’s premiere. “That’s the charm of the piece. That from such a confrontational premise emerges a moving and heartfelt story.”

Daniel Nieborski as Eddie and Antoinette Davis as Rose.

The story is an intricate one and complemented by a beautiful and brilliant musical score, which is written by Academy Award-winning composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul who are both well known, especially for Dear Evan Hansen and The Greatest Showman. It’s the score that Mushin explains helps achieve all the contrasting emotions.

“The score combines haunting melodies with uplifting production numbers and emotional ballads. It really is a hidden gem,” he said.

The Theatrical cast, led by Daniel Nieborski as Eddie and Antoinette Davis as Rose, will be accompanied by a live band which Mushin said everyone is thoroughly enjoying, saying it was definitely a highlight when the score came to life with the six-piece band led by musical director Tim Wilson.

Mushin said audiences are definitely in for a musical treat.

Mushin also said rehearsals have been a lot of fun especially to witness the evolution of the cast together.

“To see the cast and production team develop from friendly and excited greetings on day one, through to the close-knit team they have now become was a delight,” he said.

“We’ve had a lot of fun too. Early on before the set was built, we had to rehearse in the kindergarten hall next door. As we didn’t yet have the milk crates that we use or seats and other things, we were using the tiny kindergarten chairs. Let’s just say that grown up performers sitting on tiny kindergarten chairs isn’t really conducive to poignant, intense and emotional storytelling.”


Mushin praised the whole company at Theatrical, calling them a delight to work with.

“Theatrical may be a small, independent theatre company but it has a huge heart and certainly punches above its weight,” he said. “It has been a real pleasure to get to know and work with the Theatrical team and I’m excited for audiences to witness the results of their unwavering commitment and talent.”

As for what audiences can expect, Mushin said they should be prepared to be taken through a roller coaster of emotions.

“This is a great opportunity to see a show with a killer score, terrific performances and powerful themes. It promises to be a special night in the theatre.”

Dogfight runs from November 9-26 at Chapel Off Chapel. For tickets:


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