Stage Talk by Carol Viescas
‘Dogfight’ — UTEP Dinner Theatre, in the UTEP Student Union West building, presents the hauntingly beautiful musical as part of its Side Dish Student Production at 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Dec. 3-7, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, with music and lyrics by Academy and Tony Award winning team Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (”Dear Evan Hansen,” “The Greatest Showman,” ”A Christmas Story”) and book by Peter Duchan. Tickets: $10; $7 UTEP alumni Association members; $7 non-UTEP students and military; $5 UTEP students. All seats general admission; no meal served (Ticketmaster). Information: 747-6060 or utep.edu/udt.
Adult subject matter and language; not recommended for children. Age 3 and younger not admitted.
The musical won the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical. Based on the 1991 Warner Brothers film, ”Dogfight” takes audiences on a romantic and heartbreaking theatrical journey studded with impressive songs, an unexpected love affair, and a genuine and charming soul. In 1967, Eddie Birdlace returns to San Francisco where four years earlier he spent his last night before shipping out for Vietnam. He and two friends had made a bet: Who could find the ugliest girl in town and bring her to a party where she will be judged?
‘A Christmas Carol en la Frontera’ — The UTEP Department of Theatre and Dance presents an original adaptation of Charles Dickens’ holiday season classic by Jay Stratton and Adriana Dominguez Dec. 5-13, in UTEP’s Fox Fine Arts Wise Family Theatre. Showtime is 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Dec. 6-8 and Dec. 13; plus 4 p.m. matinees Dec. 7-8 and 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15. Student matinees are 9:30 a.m. and noon Tuesdays through Thursdays, Dec. 11-12, and Dec. 17-19, and Monday Dec. 16. Tickets: $12-$18 (All seats $10 on Dec. 5). Information: 747-5118, theatredance.utep.edu or on Facebook.
This holiday ghost story is filled with thrills and chills, but is also a tale of family, solitude, and redemption, with the unique flavor of the border.
‘El Color de Nuestra Piel’ — Los Actores presents the Spanish-language play by Celestino Gorostiza, directed by Hector Serrana, at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 6-15, at Loretto Academy, 1300 Hardaway. Tickets are $10. Information: 540-3813.
‘How to Survive Your Family at Christmas’ — No Strings Theater Company presents Christmas comedy by William Missouri Downs, directed by Ceil Herman, Dec. 6-22, at Black Box Theater, 430 N. Main in Las Cruces. Showtime is 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2:30 p.m. Sundays, and 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19. Tickets: $15 ($12 students and seniors over 65; $10 all seats Thursday). Information: (575) 523-1223 or no-strings.org.
College student Loretta hasn’t been home in two years mostly because she has nothing in common with her blue-collar parents. When she left to attend Harvard, she thought she’d never return. Then she fell in love with a cultivated Cambridge law student who wants to meet her parents.
‘Miracle on 34th Street’ — El Paso Playhouse, 2501 Montana, presents its adaptation of the classic film celebrating the true spirit of Christmas Dec. 6-21. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $15 ($12 seniors, students, military and teachers; $9 children). Information: 532-1317 or elpasoplayhouse.com.
Kris Kringle finds himself working as a Santa Claus for Macy’s. A perfect job for him, since Kris says he really is Santa Claus. Can he convince the psychologist that wants to lock him up? And can he win over little Susan Walker, who has been taught by her mother to always be rational and not believe in fantasies?
‘A Christmas Story’ — Las Cruces Community Theatre, 313 N. Main in the Las Cruces Downtown Mall presents the musical based on the classic holiday movie Dec. 7-22. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays. Cake and non-alcoholic beverages with the cast and crew follow opening night performance. Tickets: $17 ($14 senior, student and military; $10 groups and children). Information: (575) 523-1200 or lcctnm.org.
The play is about 9-year-old Ralphie Parker and his quest for the Holy Grail of Christmas gifts: an Official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model air rifle.
‘A Christmas Carol’ — American Southwest Theatre Company presents the musical adaptation of Dickens’ holiday classic with book and lyrics by Tom Smith and music by Roger Butterly through Dec. 8 at NMSU’s Center for the Arts in Las Cruces. Directed by NMSU student Xodia Choate. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, plus 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30 and Sundays. Tickets: $18 ($15 seniors; $11 students; $5 high school students with current I.D.) Tickets: (575) 646-4515 or nmsutheatre.com.
Playhouse auditions — El Paso Playhouse, 2501 Montana, hosts auditions for Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 9-10. Performance dates are Feb. 7-23, 2020. Call for audition times: 532-1317 or elpasoplayhouse.com.
Jesters League of America — El Paso’s improv comedy group, presents a show at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, at Glasbox, 210 Poplar. Tickets: $5 at the door. The JLA is in its third year of unscripted hilarity. Information on Facebook at jestersleagueofamerica.
Dinner Detective — The Dinner Detective Murder Mystery Show presents the Christmas-themed show 6 to 9 p.m. every Saturday in December at Holiday Inn Sunland Park, 900 Sunland Park Drive, Actors are hidden in the audience in plain sight. Tickets: $59.95 at eventbrite.com. A New Year’s Eve Show is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31.Information: dinnerdetective.com.
El Paso Comic Strip — 1201 Airway. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Closed Dec. 5 and 22. Tickets: $6 Thursday, $12 Friday and Saturday; $8 Sunday, except as listed. Age 17 and older admitted. VIP Booths $10 more per ticket for all shows; available at ticketweb.com.
Information, reservations: 779-LAFF (5233), elpasocomicstrip.com or on Facebook at El Paso Comic Strip.
• Nov. 29-Dec. 1: Tre Tutson & Tony B
• Dec. 12-15: J.R. Brow
• Jan. 2-5: Joey Media
• Jan. 16-19: John Stringer
• Jan. 30-Feb. 1: K-von
Laughter Hours Comedy is 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, featuring top regional and local acts. Tickets: $15 ($20 VIP).
New Year’s Eve performances are 7 and 10 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31, featuring Joey Medina. Tickets for early show are $12.50, and late show is $22.50 ($10 more for VIP booths).
• Steve O — The comic and stuntman who gained fame on MTV’s “Jackass” performs at 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-7. Tickets: $30; $40 VIP; $50 Front 50.
• Donnell Rawlings — The co-creator of the web series and movie “From Ashy to Classy” performs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, and 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 19-21. Tickets: $20; $25 VIP.
• Steve Treviño — The comic, whose latest Netflix special is “Til Death,” performs 7:30 p.m. Thursday, and 7:30 and 10 p.m. Friday, and 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9-11. Tickets: $25; $30 VIP.
UTEP serves up ‘Dogfight’ as Side Dish production
December is a time of giving, love and compassion, and this month’s Side Dish show, “Dogfight” has that in spades.
For the fifth year in a row, UTEP Dinner Theatre presents what it calls its Side Dish show, a small show that might not normally be produced at the dinner theater, and, indeed, is produced only as a show with no dinner offered.
It is directed by Mariana Baidon, who is finishing up her BFA in musical theater at UTEP.
“’Dogfight’ tells the story of a group of Marines and their unkind tradition: getting the ugliest girls to a party, to see who can bring the ugliest,” Baidon said. “Eddie Birdlace, however, starts to realize the meaning of his actions, getting him to see Rose, his date, in a new light.”
The musical is based on the 1991 film of the same name by Nancy Savoca, with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who also wrote music and lyrics for “A Christmas Story.” It premiered Off-Broadway in 2012. It’s set in 1963, and centers on three young Marines out for a final night of partying before they deploy to Southeast Asia.
The cast has a number of familiar faces, and a few new ones. UDT regular Jorge Blakely is Birdlace. Hannah Perches, who has appeared in “Tommy,” “Hello, Dolly,” and “Newsies,” plays Rose. Other familiar UDT regulars include Rachel Robins as Marcy, Zaid Zavala as Boland, John Levick as Lounge Singer/Ensemble, Alexis Medina as Mama, and Bryant Webb in the ensemble. Newcomers to the dinner theatre are Dante Salcido as Bernstein, and Chloe Curtis as part of the ensemble.
Baidon has acted as assistant director before, but “Dogfight,” marks her premiere in the director’s chair.
“I like to call myself a Theatre Human,” she said. I’ve been involved in performance in shows such as ‘Tommy,’ ‘In the Next Room,’ ‘Sister Act’, and ‘Bless Me, Ultima.’” She also was a costume designer for “The Humans” and will design for the upcoming “Into the Beautiful North.”
The show has presented its challenges, she said, particularly “coordinating so many people with so little time with so many set changes.”
But it’s been great working with long-time fellow thespians and the new faces.
“It’s been a joy getting to work one-on-one with each one of the actors, since they’re all people I admire.”
She hopes audience members walk away from the show with a bit of the warmth that comes with the holidays.
“I want them to rekindle the love for one another, the value in collaboration, and of course, the value of forgiveness.”
All these values, she added, are important today.
“Dogfight shows that we all have the ability to change, to be kinder, and that beauty is found from within, and not otherwise. I believe it’s a needed reminder in our current times.”
Carol Viescas is a veteran of
community theater and teaches
journalism at Bel Air High School.
“Dogfight” runs Dec. 3-8 at UTEP Dinner Theatre. Information: 747-6060 or utep.edu/udt.
Feature storyCopyright 2019 by Cristo Rey Communications.
Here's the Ticket
Southwest Art Scene
At the Museum
Keep on Bookin'