Finding love with just the right person today should be easy. Right? I mean with Google and Match.com and well meaning friends and relatives who just want to help you find Mr. or Ms. Right by setting up a blind date! Oh man, a blind date! Noooo. That’s too scary for words.
Not so for Austin Winsberg (book) and Alan Zachary & Michael Weiner (music & lyrics) who have created a perky original musical FIRST DATE for the now generation of theatergoers who might discover that “getting to know you” can be lots of fun and not just a song from The King and I.
The show could be called BLIND DATE as that’s exactly what it is as we meet this show for the first time with its two opposites that don’t immediately attract. Casey (Krysta Rodriguez) who got entrance applause (she’s known from SMASH) with her short cropped hair and even shorter mini dress and stacked heels – the confident, somewhat aggressive, talkative, artsy, liberated fem that some men might fear has been set up by her sister to meet Aaron (Zachary Levi) who will soon get entrance applause (and standing ovations) for his bravura and comedic performance – a nice Jewish guy in a suit and tie, awkward, well meaning who has the ability to say the wrong things at the right moment – over drinks.
There is a Greek chorus of five who become all the other characters in the show – (helping, hindering and/or warning) characters springing forth from the minds of our two potential love birds that is a bit overdone. But I quibble. They are all great at becoming someone else in a split second with props appearing from nowhere and costumes changes (David C. Woolard) in the blink of an eye.
Blake Hammond as a gay waiter almost stops the show with his “I’d Order Love” a witty old time shoe biz number with all the trimmings.
The songs are suitable and entertaining if not of the caliber of the aforementioned “Getting to Know You”. Musicals are a different animal now for better of for worse. The lyrics are witty and hit all the right emotions as religion, ex-mates, sex, grandmothers, shrinks, friends, and who gets to pay the check pop up.
Krysta Rodriguez is fine but without much depth as Casey. On the other hand a new star is born in the person of Zachary Levi who all but astounds as Aaron. He is someone whose name will rise quickly above the marquee. Perfectionist comic timing with a quirky charm and who can eat a pickle like no one else Mr. Levi delights and wows us with “In Love With You” – his eleven o’clock number – so rightfully placed and delivered with élan.
Bryce Ryness, Kristoffer Cusick, Sara Chase and Kate Loprest round out the talented ensemble directed by Bill Berry who keeps the ball rolling and the date interesting aided with spirited musical staging by Josh Rhodes. Sound design by Kai Harada could have been crisper. Nice set and projections by David Gallo.
FIRST DATE is a cute show, entertaining and sharp but it perhaps would have been more accessible cost wise Off-Broadway rather than the Longacre Theatre on West 48th Street.
www.FirstDateTheMusical.com Photos: Joan Marcus
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