The hauntingly beautiful musical DOGFIGHT by Pasek and Paul (EDGES, JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH, A CHRISTMAS STORY THE MUSICAL)  and Peter Duchan, was praised by countless critics and nominated for nearly every award available including winning the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical.  Based on the 1991 Warner Brothers film, DOGFIGHT takes audiences on a romantic and heartbreaking theatrical journey that stays with you long after the performance.

It’s November 21, 1963. On the eve of their deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery, partying and maybe a little trouble. But when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she rewrites the rules of the game and teaches him the power of compassion.

DOGFIGHT veers from quiet and intimate to thundering with enough energy you’ll feel it shake the seats. Studded with impressive songs, an unexpected love affair, and a genuine and charming soul DOGFIGHT is a perfect choice for any theatre looking to challenge and inspire their audiences.

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    For years, he was your stalwart leading man. He had the good looks, the great voice and the requisite masculinity. But, as Lorelei Lee taught us, “we all lose our charms in the end.” Now he’s not as swaggeringly handsome and he’s gone gray where he hasn’t gone bald. As Michael asks in I DO! I DO!, “When did that double chin appear?” Alas, it now accompanies a nearly doubled waistline.

    You’ve been shunting him into character roles, but that’s a shame, for he still has that great voice. What to do, what to do?

    In fact, THE MOST HAPPY FELLA.

    [click to continue…]

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      How about doing AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ as a midnight show?

      Of course there’s nothing wrong with presenting the Tony-winning smash hit at your usual 8 p.m. start or by having matinees at 2 or 3 p.m. Thousands have done so and have seen felicitous results.

      But while I was watching original director Richard Maltby, Jr.’s sharp new production at the Delaware Theatre Company, I was reminded that the songs which Fats Waller (1904-1943) wrote or recorded are often ribald. They employ more double entendres than ANNIE has orphans.

      Now I’m not saying that the show should be X-rated. Far from it. The three women or two men ain’t even ostensibly misbehavin’. While there are as many sex songs as love songs, they’re accompanied by little more than an occasional affectionate poke in the ribs or some smile-inducing huggin’.

      Still, many songs imply that hedonism is on this cast’s minds – or at least has been. The way that Debra Walton sings “Keepin’ out of Mischief Now” shows that her character has now fallen in genuine love to the point where she’ll now walk the straight and narrow. But she doesn’t neglect to let us know she’s already been around the block several times.

      Apparently “Fats” (real name: Thomas) had not only a lusty appetite for food, but also an equally voracious one for matters of the flesh. True, he can’t be named the most responsible for any naughtiness, for he didn’t write the words but “only” composed the music. Nevertheless, there’s no mistaking that he was attracted to sexy subject matter.

      While one song is matter-of-factly titled “Find out What They Like,” the line that follows is “and how they like it, and let ‘em have it just that way.” Believe me, when Cynthia Thomas and Kecia Lewis sing it, they aren’t urging women to get store-bought gifts as presents for their men. “Get some cash for your trash” may seem to be a public service announcement, but here Kecia and Doug Eskew manage to make it sound sexual. “I’m Gonna Sit Right down and Write Myself a Letter” has a lyric that the singer will put “a lot of kisses on the bottom” – meaning at the end of the letter — but here Doug implies that he’ll bestow kisses on Kecia’s gluteus maximus.

      Thus Maltby has his singers play into the benign bawdiness. Although one lyric goes “I don’t know my elbow from my ear,” here Kecia takes a few seconds’ pause between “my” and “ear” to make us believe that she had prepared to cite a different part of the body that’s located a couple of feet lower. And when Cynthia sings “Squeeze Me,” she takes no chances that anyone might miss the point; she invitingly flutters her eyelashes with the speed of an in-heat hummingbird that’s beating its wings.

      William Foster McDaniel and Kecia Lewis. Photo by Matt Urban / Mobius New Media, Inc.

      What’s especially wonderful about AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ is that two of its three ladies are cast with ample-sized women who are consistently characterized as sexually desirable. Neither of the show’s two men seems ready to snarl “You look fat in that dress” in standard-issue male-insensitive fashion; instead, each makes moon-faced and starry-eyed looks filled with I-want-you-tonight hunger. Oh, there is a song in which Doug complains that “Your Feet’s Too Big,” but he makes no protest on what the lady sports from the ankles up. Even if he did, both Kecia and Cynthia have more than enough self-esteem to believe that the problem would be Doug’s and Doug’s alone.

      Although every dramatic work is supposed to have conflict, revues are usually excused from this demand. And yet, AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ does have some friction as each woman makes no bones about being in competition with the others both for stage time and the men. There is one fewer man, after all, and, to cite a 1969 film, “Three into Two Won’t Go” (well, not if they ain’t misbehavin’). Whenever Kecia or Cynthia finds that Doug or Eugene Fleming is interested in the skinnier Debra, she doesn’t go to pieces, feel inferior or blame herself. She instead castigates him for not treating her in the way that she rightly deserves.

      On the other hand, all the women aren’t above looking into the audience, catching the eye of an audience member and overtly flirting before snarling such sentiments as “Eat your heart out!”

      The biggest conflict comes at the end of the first act as the company sings “The Joint Is Jumpin’.” Actually, “jumpin’” is putting it mildly, for in the middle of a song, the men fight over (what else?) the women, which leads to Doug’s pulling out a gun and firing it.

      At least he points it to the ceiling, and none of the others is hurt. Perhaps no one in your audience will be startled, for you’ll probably have the now-ubiquitous sign in your lobby alerting people that “a gunshot will be fired during this performance” (a sign that, when you think of it, always ruins the suspense of a show).

      Underneath the gunshot warning you may well also warn that “Cigarettes will be smoked during this performance.” Many will wish that what Eugene is said to be smoking is a mere cigarette, but “The Viper’s Drag” concerns a very different substance. Be aware of this before planning a production; one never knows, do one, if some in your community might object.

      Eugene Fleming, Cynthia Thomas, Kecia Lewis, Debra Walton, Doug Eskew. Photo by Matt Urban / Mobius New Media, Inc.

      However, you might get away with it if you treat the song in the wise way that Maltby does. He’s instructed Eugene to blow some fancy smoke rings; Fleming does it with such aplomb that the audience finds itself distracted by the smoke-show.

      Say what you will, the sequence is historically accurate. Long before the era of “sex and drugs and rock and roll,” Waller lived in a world of sex and drugs and jazz. Granted, “The Viper’s Drag” is the only song that alludes to drug use. But be apprised that it’s there.

      Have we mentioned that the show celebrates African-Americans and is performed by them? That leads to “Black and Blue,” the show’s penultimate sequence. It’s a serious moment in which the five sing lyricist Andy Razaf’s rueful observations on the racial luck of the draw: “What did I do to be so black — and blue? … I can’t hide what is on my face … I’m so forlorn … My heart is torn; why was I born?” Even the hardest of hearts would have to soften after hearing this song.

      Because the show ostensibly takes place in a Harlem nightclub, you won’t need much of a set. A false proscenium arch with a ribbon of tiny lights placed around it will swing it. Put your six-piece band behind it, and you’re all (pardon the pun) set.

      Those who play in large orchestras for large musicals wind up being anonymous in that pit below the stage. But musicians in small bands in musicals as small as AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ don’t suffer that fate. During the entr’acte, which follows an act in which each musician has proved himself worthy, the trombonist, trumpeter and saxophonist each gets a moment to stand and play (the bass player, of course, has been standing all along); a nice round of applause awaits each. Of course, the drummer remains seated while making the drums go bang and the cymbals clang, but he gets a solo and just as much applause as the others.

      What else? Find yourself an expert spotlight operator. Here in Delaware, Cindy Adams gets program credit and deserves it for aptly illuminating each and every performer at the right place at the right time and holding steady. Compare this to a musical I saw recently where the person on the follow spot jiggled it so much that I thought, “Lucky for us that he doesn’t work with plutonium. We’d all be blown to kingdom come.”

      When Clive Barnes reviewed A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC for The New York Times in 1973, he exclaimed “Good God! An adult musical!” Here’s betting that when AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ opened, he wished he’s saved the line for this hit.

      Check out Peter’s weekly column each Tuesday at www.masterworksbroadway.com and each Friday at www.kritzerland.com.  Peter’s newest book, Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks: A Very Opinionated History of the Broadway Musicals That Did Not Win the Tony Award is available NOW.

       

       

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        License BRING IT ON THE MUSICAL for performances beginning June 1, 2014!

        Based on the hit film, created by a dream team of award-winning Broadway talent and nominated for a Tony Award for Best Musical, BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL is a high-flying thrill ride where the cutthroat world of competitive cheerleading meets the fierce rivalries of high school politics and romance.

        Campbell is cheer-royalty at Truman High School and her senior year should prove the most cheertastic – she’s been named captain of the squad! But an unexpected redistricting has forced her to spend her final year of high school at the neighboring, hard knock Jackson High School. Despite having the deck stacked against her, Campbell befriends the dance crew girls and, along with their headstrong and hardworking leader Danielle, manages to form a powerhouse squad. Campbell may have assembled a National Championship team, but difficult stunts don’t easily “stick”.

        BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL is ideal for any company with talented, young performers be they singer, dancer, actor, or cheerleader. The show’s name alone with fill the seats and audiences’ word of mouth will pack the house. With a colorful assortment of characters, an exciting fresh sound and explosive choreography with aerial stunts, this hilarious, universal story is sure to be everything you hoped for and nothing like you expected.

        Coming to a Town Near You!

        Click here to visit the Official Website with amazing pictures, high-flying video, and the updated Tour Schedule.

        Order Your Free Perusal Copy of the Script

        For a limited time only, you can read a free perusal copy of the libretto for BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL. Log in to your My MTI account and select the show from the dropdown menu (it will appear free of charge), or call your licensing agent to order an electronic version or hard copy today!  Offer valid through 5/3/2014.


         

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          Filichia Features: ANYONE is Still Whistling

          April 4, 2014

          Fifty years ago this week, a musical opened on Broadway. Fifty years ago next week, that same musical closed on Broadway. After nine performances, ANYONE CAN WHISTLE called it a life. And yet, a full half-century later, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents’ “wild new musical” (as it was billed) is still with us. In fact, [...]

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            Hairspray, Annie, Legally Blonde, Shrek and More Now Available for Scene Partner App

            March 28, 2014

            Scene Partner® is a powerful iPhone®, iPad® and iPad Touch® app that helps actors with the age-old problem of memorizing lines. How Does It Work? For the first time, safely distribute Authorized MTI rented digital librettos to your cast. Start by setting up a FREE password protected Theater Account at Scenepartnerapp.com. Book an MTI Title [...]

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              Filichia Features: A Soulful Production of THE MUSIC MAN

              March 28, 2014

              I didn’t care that there were 47 fewer actors on stage than there had been in 1957 – or that the orchestra was 75 trombones shy. Seeing THE MUSIC MAN in a modest concert version in Newark, New Jersey (a c0-production between the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Two River Theater Company) last [...]

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                Embrace Your Inner Geek – BAND GEEKS Now Available for Licensing!

                March 27, 2014

                In the tradition of GLEE and THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE, comes BAND GEEKS – a high-stepping tribute to high school marching bands and misfits everywhere! With just nine members and dwindling funds, the Cuyahoga High Marching Beavers are close to extinction. When a troubled athlete is relegated to their ranks, Elliott, the [...]

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                  Welcome to LOSERVILLE! The Geek-Loving-Crowd-Buzzing-Game-Changing New Musical is Now Available for Licensing!

                  March 27, 2014

                  LOSERVILLE, the smash-hit new musical from London’s West End takes geek to a whole new rock-pop level.  Nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 2013 and many more accolades, LOSERVILLE is based on the groundbreaking album “Welcome to Loserville” from the band Son of Dork. You would never expect that the geeks [...]

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                    Send Flat Stanley Around the Globe – Download the 50th Anniversary Template!

                    March 26, 2014

                    2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the first publication of the beloved Flat Stanley book series.  We’re thrilled to join in on the flat fun by offering this downloadable template so you can send Flat Stanley Around the Globe. Download the Template Here! License: The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley JR. The Musical Adventures of [...]

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