By Erin Wallace
Broadway musicals typically feature over-the-top performances with large ensembles and casts as well as several stage designs. The audience expects to see two acts that are at least an hour long with as many songs and dance numbers as possible. The Broadway musical First Date could not be more different.
It is truly a performance that most audiences have never seen before, due to its small cast, minimal set designs, and short length. Surprisingly, it is a one-act play that lasts only an hour and a half. The setting of the stage is ordinary, so that it resembles the typical setting of a first date. It takes place at a casual bar/restaurant, the main setting/stage design of the musical, which is where most people would rather have their blind dates. Places like this are more comfortable for two people, who have never met, to get to know each other. The stage design is altered at the very beginning and end of the musical, but it remains the same for the majority of the time. There are also very few dance numbers. With a cast of only four actors and three actresses, the performance is far from extravagant. A large ensemble is not needed, since five of the cast members play many different roles. Known as “The Company,” the actors and actresses each play two to three characters, which displays true variety and talent. It is absolutely amazing to see how quickly each actor and actress can change from one role to another without allowing it to faze him or her.
First Date is centered on a blind date shared between Aaron (Zachary Levi,) and Casey (Krysta Rodriguez), two very different individuals. Casey is rather condescending; she could not care less about the date, even before it begins. However, Aaron, who was recently left at the altar by his ex-fiancée Allison, is open to new experiences and ready to enter into the dating world once again. While he may be extremely nervous, I immediately fell in love with his character, as he seems like the ideal man for any blind date.
From the beginning, it seems as if the two will never hit it off, but they have more in common than they think. Both are held back by their past and someone close to them. Aaron is constantly haunted by the memories of his ex-fianceé because he worries he may not be over her. The words of his best friend, Gabe, enter his mind, in order to keep him from mentioning Allison on the date. Gabe taunts Aaron and yells whatever it takes to keep Allison out of the picture. By constantly reminding Aaron of how awful of a girlfriend Allison was, Gabe saves his friend from making a mistake. Casey is held back by her terrible taste in men; she loves “bad boys.” Since she is aware of the fact that her sister disapproves of her dating habits, Casey constantly hears her words of disappointment. She knows that her sister, Lauren, would want Casey to give Aaron an honest chance. It is truly special when Casey and Aaron work together to overcome their challenges and finally give each other a chance.
Aaron and Casey make the audience feel as if they are a part of the blind date by keeping it casual and fun throughout the entire performance. The songs are exciting and upbeat, so that each member of the audience leaves, still singing along to the lyrics. My favorites include “The One” and “Bailout” because of their lively music and meaningful lyrics. First Date is hysterical, and I can honestly say that I enjoyed every minute of it. The small cast was perfect and intimate, which is exactly how most people would expect a normal “first date” to be. Levi and Rodriguez have amazing voices, and I could easily tell that they were having a fun time performing. Their chemistry is truly one-of-a-kind, due to the fact that they made their acting seem effortless. It seemed as if the two were on their own blind date, without an audience watching; they worked extremely well together. Since the protagonists that both Levi and Rodriguez portrayed were ordinary people with common issues, they were extremely relatable. It was especially interesting to see each actor and actress contribute to the humor of the musical. If you would like to see a fun, hilarious, and spectacular performance, then First Date is the right musical for you.