Written by 5:35 am Laguna beach, Musical, No Square Theatre, Review, Uncategorized

Dogfight, the musical @ No Square Theatre in Laguna Beach – Review

Photo credit: Abby Matossian

Written by Diana Michelle Robles

Set in 1963, San Francisco, Dogfight combines its comically brutal plot with fun musicality for an overall BBB-beautiful show.

In military slang, a Dogfight means a close-range battle between two fighter aircrafts. In this production directed by Karen Rymar, however, it refers to a party in which a rowdy pack of John F. Kennedy-era U.S. Marines battle over who can find the ugliest date.

When we think about the Vietnam War, we tend to think of draft resistance and the “Hell no, we won’t go” attitude. Yet, Dogfight shows the lesser-told inverse: eager, early Vietnam soldiers blinded by American exceptionalism with no impression that they may not end up heroes.

Wyatt Pendleton and Macy Buckley as Boland and Marcy (Photo by Abby Matossian)

The gang of young soldiers is reminiscent of the T Birds from Grease— young, dumb, and virtually carefree. They essentially view the military as a boys club. In their final days before deployment, they choose to concern themselves with the ugliness of others rather than the ugliness that awaits them in war.

Eddie Birdlace (Braxton McGrath) comes across his date while she, Rose (Brooklyn Vizacarra), works a shift at a diner. Her girlish demeanor and inexperience cause her to fall into his cruel set-up, but it’s those same traits that make Birdlace question his actions. In her No Square Theater directorial debut, Rymar successfully shifted between comedic and dramatic tones, ultimately mirroring the internal shift that her protagonist experiences. In this way, Dogfight serves as a coming-of-age tale for Birdlace, in which he gains empathy and learns that not everything is how it appears.


Lead actor Braxton McGrath shows up as Birdlace with an endearing presence. McGrath managed to make his character easily likable throughout his development from jagoff jarhead to a well-meaning young man. Brooklyn Vizacarra delivered a sincere performance as the bright-eyed Rose. The audience deeply felt her on-stage excitements and disillusionments, while her vocals remained solid throughout the entire night. Macy Buckley’s character Marcy, another Dogfight invitee, brought a ferocity to the stage. Marcy’s exaggerated yet euphonious accent transported the audience back to the 1960s.

While the ensemble for this production is generally strong, the Three Bees shine. Composed of McGrath as Birdlace, Gavin Hamze as Bernstein, and Wyatt Pendleton as Boland, this group mastered boyish delusion and cruelty while establishing clear fraternity. Their numbers are likely to be favored among audiences.

Set and Design: 

The set for this production was minimal but functional. The small stage range makes it difficult to do anything elaborate for its design, but with the help of the cast to paint a visual image, it does just fine.


The costuming was overall understated. Combined with styling and hair, both the soldiers and the Dogfight invitees’ costumes reflected character traits, as well as the time period.

Even musical skeptics may want to attend this rendition of Dogfight. No Square Theatre manages to create an elaborate, engaging, and wildly funny show that is well worth the audience’s time.

Brooklyn Vizacarra as Rose (Photo by Abby Matossian)

The cast, along with the production’s band led by Musical Director Christopher W. Smith, performed a series of near-perfect musical numbers, demonstrating skillful ensemble work. No Square Theatre is approved for a night of amusement in Orange County.

8.8 Overall
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Set & Design7.8
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Great Show! OCR Recommended! May 17 – 26, 2024.

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