Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you don’t have presents or plans lined up yet, never fear. It’s not too late to orchestrate the quintessential New York City date night: an amazing night of theater (pair your tickets with dinner, drinks and/or dessert for best results). But with so many choices on and off the Great White Way, how can you decide where to take your significant other this Thursday? Here are some options for every type of romantic.
The cynic’s pick: ‘PASSION’
“Passion” is a twisted love story about a relationship founded on obsession and manipulation. The antithesis of a rom-com, this dark musical will appease those who are intrigued by the intensity of infatuation and the complexities of newfound love. For Sondheim fans, it’s a no-brainer. And those who like to be first-to-know will be impressed that you heard about this under-the-radar restaging that’s new to town as of this weekend (Feb. 8). www.classicstage.org
The confident choice: ‘PICNIC’
No matter who you are, it takes a lot of courage to bring your date to a play where Sebastian Stan spends half the time onstage shirtless and gleaming with sweat. Here he's a down-on-his-luck drifter who falls for a small town’s most prized bachelorette. We won’t tell you how that seemingly doomed affair turns out, but we will guarantee that you’ll earn major points for being bold enough to stare at Stan while sitting next to your SO. www.roundabouttheatre.org
The long-term ticket: ‘WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?’
Committed couples get comfortable with one another; they operate in a language that only they can understand. This production takes that kind of long-haul love to the next level, showcasing theater’s most cohesively dysfunctional husband and wife as they bait and mock a newly married duo over a long night of cocktails. And it’s all in the name of breaking familiarity and pushing their relationship to the next level. Despite the epic levels of gamesmanship to which this particular pair have taken their matrimony, the play’s still recognizably romantic in a way that many longtime lovers will understand. www.virginiawoolfbroadway.com
The introductory date: ‘THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD’
Isn’t it great at the start of a relationship, when there’s still a lot of excitement and, well, mystery? If you’re just starting out with someone new, a musical comedy is the perfect pick that will let you relax together and laugh. With audience participation and surprise endings that change every night, there’s plenty within this uproariously convoluted plot for you to talk about. And regardless of the twists and turns this choose-your-own-adventure might take, you’ll be good to go knowing that every single performance is going to end in a love song. www.roundabouttheatre.org
The safe bet: ‘ONCE’
As the top Tony winner of 2012, "Once" is likely to hit the mark for even the hard-to-please theatergoer. Romantic and haunting, the story follows musicians who realize they each bring out just what the other person needs most. If all else fails, there’s a bar right onstage so you can grab a glass of wine to smooth over any misgivings about your taste in musical theater. But in our professional opinion, if your date doesn’t like “Once,” you should probably just reconsider the relationship. Unfortunately, this is also one where it might be hard to score tickets — but if you can, you really can’t go wrong. www.oncemusical.com
Follow Metro's theater editor via Twitter: @TMichelleMurphy.