Though its cast has charm to spare, this musical romcom confection gets bogged down in clichés.
If you were to find yourself out on a blind date with First Date, as lead characters Aaron (Charlie Lubeck) and Casey (Dana Parker) find themselves with each other, you might be as conflicted as they are about the experience—your inner voices continuously telling you to give it a fair shake, even as you see red flags flying left and right.
The basic setup of this fluffy piece, which had a brief flirtation with Broadway in 2013, seems innocuous enough: Casey and Aaron meet up on a blind date arranged by Casey's sister and her husband, who works with Aaron. The date plays out in relatively real time, with repeated, imagined intrusions by Aaron's lothario best friend or ex-fiancée, or Casey's settled-down sister or bad-boy ex-boyfriends.
The two subjects of the date at hand telegraph their incompatibility. Aaron is an uptight finance type; Casey works in an art gallery and regrets not pursuing her own art. There's frankly nothing to see here that you don't see coming from miles away, up to and including the all-male writing team's dim view of its female characters (hint: the women are flawed, the men just need to be loved).
J.R. Rose's staging is handsome, and populated by an extremely charming cast, and the songs by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner are pleasant enough. But I'm left with the question of who this odd little romcom is aimed toward. It's far too much pressure for couples on an actual first date, but exposes too many raw nerves for more established pairings. It's hard to see First Date inspiring many seconds.
Royal George Theatre. Book by Austin Winsberg. Music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner. Directed by J.R. Rose. With Charlie Lubeck, Dana Parker, Cassie Slater, Anne Litchfield Calderón, Shea Coffman, Adam Fane, John Keating. Running time: 1hr 35mins; no intermission.