“Dogfight” Features Talented Cast, But A Problematic Script

Alexander Zenoz and Hannah Benitez share a quiet moment in Dogfight (Photos by Michael U.)

By Hap Erstein, FloridaTheaterOnStage.com, for  SouthFloridaReporter.com, Nov. 18, 2015 – In the same way that Slow Burn Theatre Company’s artistic director Patrick Fitzwater has a good eye for spotting performance talent, he also is savvy at identifying worthy new composers and lyricists. Sometimes, however, his ability to select satisfying material fails him.

While still in their 20s, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul put themselves squarely on the musical theater map by adapting a hard-edged, improbable romance film called Dogfight. Small in size but large in ambition, it arrived off-Broadway two-and-a-half years ago to substantial acclaim for their writing promise. Pasek had arrived on Broadway year earlier with the winning holiday romp, A Christmas Story, and the two of them are New York-bound later this season with the critically admired Dear Evan Hansen. Clearly these are writers with a big future.

Dogfight earned attention from Fitzwater who – with a couple of compelling discoveries in the leading roles – has mounted the show with his signature energy in the Broward Center’s Abdo New River Room.