Theater review: ‘First Date’ is a comedy for lovers

The cast of "First Date" shows off.  Credit: Chris Owyoung
The cast of “First Date” shows off.
Credit: Chris Owyoung

Ever been terrified of a first (especially blind) date? You’re not alone. “First Date” novelist Austin Winsberg taps into that fear with wit and whimsy. Lyrics and music by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner cleverly reinforce the lingering dread that your companion for the evening might just be a serial killer.

After a crisp opening number about blind dates, the play focuses on slightly nerdy, mildly uptight finance type Aaron (Zachary Levi), who’s waiting to encounter hip and happening, commitment-phobic art gallery worker Casey (Krysta Roriguez). Initially they don’t hit it off. And every time they start to connect, something gets in the way. A case in point: Early on, they discover they grew up in the same general area and run through one Jewish-named acquaintance after another. Then Casey says, “even though I’m not Jewish” and present action stops. All kinds of costumed relations materialize to convince Aaron that this shiksa is not the girl for him. Reminiscent of the dream sequence from “Fiddler on the Roof,” it’s hilarious.

The same device — freezing present action to have close friends and distant relatives give bad advice — is used with great finesse throughout. It’s the framework for just about every song, most of which are very funny. And its consistency really holds the show together.

Music is reliably enjoyable, mostly middle-of–the road rock, with an occasional harder or folksier riff. The leads are strong singers and throw themselves full-throttle into their characters. Meanwhile, the supporting cast of five — Bryce Ryness, Sara Chase, Kristoffer Cusick, Blake Hammond and Kate Loprest — shows great versatility playing a jumble of wackos with zest and humor.

‘First Date’
Open Run
Longacre Theatre
220 West 48th Street
$35 to $137
www.firstdatethemusical.com



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