On Friday, the Ad Astra Theatre Ensemble will begin its next production, which follows three U.S. Marines as they celebrate their last night of freedom before deployment.

“Dogfight” is set on Nov. 21, 1963, in the early Vietnam War era amid a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia.

Cpl. Eddie Birdlace goes out with two of his friends, and they meet Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits.

The show will be staged at the Jayhawk Theatre through June 1 and is directed by Jeff Boyer.

“We really wanted to produce 'Dogfight' because while it’s a tough subject to stomach and hard to watch at times, it’s ultimately about kindness,” said Craig Fisher, Ad Astra's artistic director. “We hope people take away the message that even though people will hurt you, it’s important to nurture and maintain kindness in yourself and in the people around you. You never know who is broken and might need you.”

Fisher said the Jayhawk Theatre provides a good place for creative freedom. For “Dogfight,” he said, the production team stripped away some of the show’s flashier elements, and the ensemble hopes to really focus on the story.

“The creative expression and talent we have experienced with this cast and crew will allow audiences to see the human story at the center of ‘Dogfight,’ ” he said.

The production's cast members are Xavi Ramos (Eddie Birdlace), Madeline Dumler (Rose Fenny), Joseph Coddington (Bernstein), Sage Pourmizra (Boland), Lisa Fiori (Marcy), Jeni Thomas (Mama), Aaron Cook (Lounge Singer and others), Christopher Williams (Stevens), Peter Sandquist (Fector), Daniel Madsen (Gibbs), Nancy Musick (Peggy), Elena Blum (Ruth Two Bears), Jordan Hayes (Chippy), Taylor Molt (Suzette), Claire Hartman (Librarian), Sam Blanchett (Marine/Waiter) and Isabella Martinez-Haskins (Bartender/Hippie).

“Dogfight” is based on the Warner Bros. film and screenplay by Bob Comfort. Music and lyrics were created by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and the book by Peter Duchan.

Fisher warned that although “Dogfight” is a musical, the show deals with some heavy and powerful themes and has strong adult language and adult situations.

The show runs for two weekends and will be staged at 7:30 p.m. May 24, 25, 26, 30, 31 and June 1. Ticket prices range from $12 to $20, with advanced reserved seating available.

Other upcoming Ad Astra shows include “Bull in a China Shop,” which debuts June 27, and “Star Power Staged Reading: A League of Their Own” on June 13.

For more information, visit adastratheatre.com.