Luigi Lucente on Dogfight, Pasek and Paul, and his soldier buddies

Dogfight is the next show to hit the Hayes Theatre, starting from 1 May through to 31 May. This phenomenal show with music and lyrics by Pasek and Paul and book by Peter Duchan, will be directed by Neil Gooding, and feature a vibrant cast of superb young actors. It’s sure to impress and confront audiences with its improbable love story set amidst the sombre context of the Vietnam War. We caught up with Luigi Lucente who will be playing the dynamic leading man, Eddie Birdlace, before rehearsals started to hear about this exciting new project.

What appealed to you about this show and prompted you to be involved?

There is something about this show that is so gripping and raw and unapologetic, which is quite different to conventional musical theatre. It’s not often that these kinds of subject matters and these kinds of characters are given life in a musical theatre role. 

Luigi Lucente
Luigi Lucente will star in Dogfight at Hayes Theatre Co.

I had heard about the show from a friend, and when I listened to it, it was definitely something I wanted to be a part of. And when the opportunity arose to audition it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

Pasek and Paul’s score is incredible, were you familiar with their work before commencing this project?

I actually didn’t know a lot of Pasek and Paul’s music – I feel I missed the memo there. I had heard a few of the stand-alone songs but didn’t know their catalogue of music. I had just heard of the show and that’s what grabbed me. And now I know all these new songs and this new composer duo that are absolutely fantastic and seem to be on the cutting edge of some really big things.

The Hayes is an intimate and vibrant setting to present this piece in, how are you feeling to be making your Hayes debut?

I’m really excited about it. I’m yet to see a show at the Hayes because I’ve been performing and haven’t been in Sydney much. But I have some friends and peers who have been involved in shows there and I’m really excited about being part of this premiere.

I think the intimacy of the Hayes allows for the style of this show to be really consuming for an audience. The big energy that this show is able to create will be capitalised in this space. Particularly as this show has been performed off-Broadway and in smaller theatres in London, so the style of the show and the subject matter will go hand in hand with what the Hayes is renowned for.

How are you feeling about working with this spectacular cast?

Apart from Rowan Witt and Johanna Allen, I haven’t had the chance to work with any of the cast before, but of course I knew of all their wonderful work. I’m really looking forward to working with them and getting alongside them in this show. There’s a bunch of new faces and fairly new graduates that will just inject a whole new energy and perspective into this work.

Dogfight will run at the Hayes Theatre in May.
Dogfight will run at the Hayes Theatre in May.

You’ve mentioned the uniqueness of this story, what’s it like to prepare to play these military characters, which aren’t typical of classical musicals?

The chance to play soldiers isn’t something that comes along often in a musical theatre setting. The chance to do something quite masculine and raw is really exciting to jump into, and it’s exciting to be able to flesh out those characters.

The guys and I have already been sharing many military articles and documentaries, and tried to read up about the era. We’ve tried to develop that camaraderie between us before rehearsals even start.

In the show, they’re really like brothers, who have spent that much intensive time together in their training. The dynamics between the characters will be really clear and evident and hopefully we’ll be able to create a realistic representation of that marine life. It will be quite intense, the show is quite demanding physically and vocally. With rehearsals starting next week it’s really exciting to be jumping into this work.

Why should audiences come and see Dogfight?

This show is a great balance between the fantastic Pasek and Paul score, which just leaps off the page, and the script. The script is quite filmic, it takes the best bits out of the film and digresses and develops the characters and themes whilst still retaining the grittiness the film has. The way in which this unlikely love story plays out against this military backdrop is really clever and we get a keyhole into society at that time. There are the themes of brotherhood, the warped perceptions and misinformation of the era, the search for purpose within the war. We’re getting a bit existential and deep but basically it’s a hit show, and this cast is dynamite.

There’s a lot of heart within this show and there’s something for everyone. There’s an entire plethora of reasons, you’d be silly to miss it.

For more information about Dogfight, or to buy tickets, visit

Bec Caton

Bec has a diploma in musical theatre and is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English. She is a freelance theatre writer in Sydney.

Bec Caton

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