Book by Austin Winsberg
Music & Lyrics by
Alan Zachary & Michael Weiner
Directed by J.R. Rose
Music Direction by Elizabeth Doran
Choreography by Becky DeDecker
Produced by First Date. LLC
At the Royal George Cabaret, Chicago
Cliches rule in formulaic date show
First Date is a chamber musical that ran off-Broadway for months that now hopes to become a date-night or girls night out show in Chicago. Using bland pop-Broadway rock music sung in that sort of talk singing, First Date is a formulaic affair that is a horrors-of-blind-dating type of show filled with an empathetic male character and two cute gay boys, one a waiter the other the girl’s pre-arranged “escape” out of the date. We also meet the guy’s old girlfriend, the girl’s sister and the guy’s inner self . The dangers of a first date/blind date is a comedy filled with forgettable music and merely adequate singing. Artistically, First Date’s charm totally depends on audiences being able to cheer for the leads. In that it is a 95 minute show with some laughs but it is stuck in a dated 1990’s concept. It is geared to the 20-30 something white audiences. Seniors (like me) will find this shows irreverent and mysteriously vain.
With a passable book by Austin Winsberg, the music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner are more irritating than entertaining. First Date would work better as a straight comedy and comes off as over produced with17 songs, including the waiter’s song about ordering love instead of food and the lead guy’s song about his dead mother’s regret.
As entertainment, First Date features a talented cast of younger performers led by Charlie Lubeck as Aaron the nerdy Jewish guy uncomfortably on his first blind date. He meets the cynical “serial blind dater” Casey (Dana Parker) who delights in terrorizing guys as her sort of personal sport. Casey is an an obnoxious woman who hides her loneliness by insulting guys she meets. That Aaron and she would eventually become an item stretches Austin Winsberg’s script with questionable results. I wonder why so many contemporary relationship shows blast shy, nerdy guys by assertive woman? If Aaron had any chutzpah, he would of left Casey after her first few insults.
First Date could be saved for its target audience by the sheer efforts of the fine cast. Charlie Lubeck’s nice guy is workable with Lubeck’s singing and his sincere acting. Adam Fane and John Keating, as the two gay guys were funny as the comic relief characters as the show strives for a gay audience to supplement show’s appeal to women. With so many songs, First Date runs a long 95 minutes. First Date is a lightweight little pop musical that some will find cute and amusing. Don’t expect the art and cleverness of Sondheim but the performers garner enough fun to make the show entertaining to its target audience.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: February 12, 2015
For more info checkout the First Date page at theatreinchicago.com
At the Royal George Cabaret Theatre, 1641 N. Halsted, Chicago, IL, tickets 415 -$59, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 7 & 9:30 pm, Saturdays at 5:30 & 8pm, Sundays at 3pm, running time is 95 minutes without an intermission, on an open run