First Date on Broadway

ImageAs those of you who’ve read the last blogposts already know seeing First Date (“Broadway’s Musical Comedy”) was not my actual first date with Broadway. In fact I realize only now how great that would’ve been. But on the other hand they have a two show day on Sundays what makes First Date one of the few shows with a Sunday evening show and that gave us the opportunity to somehow make a use of our Sunday evening.

Regarding the show itself, it contains some stuff I really like about theatre and some I really dislike about theatre.

For the things I like: no intermission, only 90 minutes, actors playing different parts and staying on stage all the time. And those I know me as a ‘serious’ theatre studies-girl/researcher just, please don’t read the following: Yes, there are rather attractive people on stage. (a dramaturg I knew a few years back actually once said: Well, you know, we all like to watch pretty people. And he’s right. He always is because I think he’s a great dramaturg.)
Things I don’t like: Comedy. I don’t really like laughing in theatre. I’m more into quiet, slightly sad stuff, most of the times I really hate people laughing in theatre. I had a hard time when I watched the three productions directed by Herbert Fritsch at Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin because everyone was too caught up in their brainless laughing… for the second one I got a friend of mine to accompany me while I was drinking a glass of wine before the performance. Right. I’m that kind of person.

So, some of you might want to ask: Why did she even chose to see First Date if she hates comedy on stage so much?
I can easily answer that question – I really like the idea that it was an original musical, no film, book, series, opera, no photo exhibition, no ‘bio-pic’ on stage, no jukebox-musical and no revival. You don’t see that too often these days, do you?
The setting is rather easily explained: A blind date. Two people go on a date set up by the sister of the female part and her husband (who works with the male part). They don’t know each other exept for some things the arrengers told them: Aaron could be the man of Casey’s life, Casey is very cute. That’s what we learn they were told. They go to a kind of cliché bar which seems to be popular with people in ‘dating business’: The five other performers play two other date-parties and the waiter for the most time. They talk, they kind of fight and they kind of fall in love with each other. (Dating) Business as usual.

While the date of Aaron and Casey goes on the other performers play a variety of other characters being mostly in their heads: Casey’s stuffy sister, Aarons best friend, Aarons dead mother, his dead (and very Jewish) grandmother, Casey’s not to sensitive ex-boyfriends and (very real, but not in the same place as they are) Casey’s gay best friends who’s calling to “bail her out” as he claims in his song – which my mother loved. She loved Kristoffer Cusick playing the gay best friend (as much as she loves my very own one…). So we actually go on a “real time date” with Aaron and Casey and we get to see and hear all of their thoughts. And why not laugh on a date?

Here again the dramaturg I already mentioned above kicks in: You like to watch attractive people on stage. And damn, they are! And everyone makes the audience fall in love with them. Especially Zachary Levi playing Aaron who everyone is raving about (and yes, he’s THAT good. And boy! He can move! His song “In Love With You” is something to see!) but also Krysta Rodriguez playing Casey is great. Her character seems a little less likable than Levi’s, Casey just needs a little more time to ‘develop’ towards likability I’d say (while the audience’s relationship with Aaron is more love at first sight, Casey needs some time to make her way to our hearts). Both got incredible voices that match the music very well.
The music is a catchy pop-score which I have to admit pretty much dominates  together with mostly one song from Ragtime my iPod since I bought the CD. (I’m a nerd, we all know that.) And I’m obsessed with the harmony in one bar from the last song.

A critic for a German musical magazine stated that the book was a whole cliché and unlikely to happen that way (like: talking about beliefs, religion and other ‘personal stuff’ on a (first) date. He’s obviously never been to a first date between two artists….). Okay then, we can play that game: Romeo and Juliet – unlikely to happen that way. Annie? Tell me about that! The German operetta “Frau Luna” in which people from the 1920ies travel to the moon by a hot air balloon? Well……Just because First Date is set in today’s time we’re not allowed to have some fluff? And that’s what First Date is for the bigger part: Fluff. But why not have some fluffiness once in a while?

Plus (and now we’re getting to the point where I even as a theatre studies-girl and aspiring dramaturg get to like it): First Date really takes the audience along while those to characters fall in love because of its real time-character. It’s not like they see each other, they sing a song and….BOOM!….they’re in love. It’s really about falling in love and of course: Because they simply cannot go on three real time dates in one performance everything has to happen on that very first date. Seems legit, right? (and if I remember correctly: most of the audience members were pretty happy when the kiss finally happened….oh, I didn’t just spoil it, right?)

And since dating basically is the same everywhere at least in western societies (and that is why it’s so likable, too) I really hope someone will have to guts to bring it over to Germany. It is very likely that it will have its fans over here, too.

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