Bridgetown Conservatory Commences Summer Musical Season with “Dogfight”

The production will feature an all-adult cast, incorporating students from the conservatory.

Sophie Mackay and Grant Goldman in "Dogfight," photo courtesy of Bridgetown Conservatory of Musical Theatre.

While once known for its musicals starring younger casts, Bridgetown Conservatory of Musical Theatre has been broadening its scope over the past year, welcoming a wider age range to the stage.

Now, to kick off this summer season, the company will open the curtain on Dogfight on July 11 with an all-adult cast.

Bridgetown Conservatory has been training young actors in dancing, singing, and acting since 2016. Its shift toward productions featuring adult casts came from a desire to give young actors a better experience. “We don’t like the idea of junior shows where they’re going to be playing a 40-year-old divorcée,” Bridgetown Conservatory founder Rick Lewis says. “They should be able to play who they are.”

The upcoming show, Dogfight, follows a group of young men the day before they’re deployed to Vietnam. The antagonist of the musical, Eddie Birdlace (played by Grant Goldman), makes a bet with his friends to see who can bring the ugliest date to a party. The story revolves around the drama and emotional consequences of the distasteful competition.

Adapted from the 1991 film of the same name, Dogfight first debuted off-Broadway in 2012. With music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul—writers of La La Land, Dear Evan Hansen, and The Greatest Showman—it wasn’t a surprise when the musical was met with bundles of critical praise.

Lewis managed to catch a showing during its initial run and was particularly impacted by it. “To me, it’s one of the most moving stories,” he says. “It’s a story about humanity and male testosterone. The score is exquisite. To me, it’s the perfect musical.”

Though Dogfight doesn’t feature anyone below the age of 19, it still includes students—four actors currently are, or once were, students at the Bridgetown Conservatory.

Casting was a concern on Lewis’ mind when production on Dogfight began. “It’s a tricky show to cast,” he says. “The male singing in the score is ridiculously high; you need major tenors in the shows, but you also need pop singers.”

Much to Lewis’ surprise, the company managed to assemble a team of actors that perfectly fit the bill. “We ended up with an amazing collection of actors I didn’t even know existed in this region,” he says. “It’s been serendipity. Our students are rising to the occasion as are the adults in the community.”

The show may feature an adult cast, but Bridgetown Conservatory is still a place for young actors. Over the summer, Bridgetown aims to prioritize shows with younger characters that can better incorporate its students with adults from the community.

“Our students in college and in high school and middle school, they’re kept so busy in their theater programs during the year,” Lewis says. “The summer’s going to be when we get to do shows that incorporate the younger actors.”

SEE IT: Dogfight plays at Bridgetown Conservatory of Musical Theatre, 711 SW 14th Ave., 971-219-6452, 7:30 pm Thursday and Friday, 2:30 pm Saturday and Sunday, July 11–14 and 18–21. $21.13–$34.74.

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