Monday, March 19, 2012

First Date: A New Musical

I just learned that Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre is a significant developer of new musicals. It's produced 14 in the past ten years, five of which went to Broadway and two of which won Tony Awards for Best Musical, including Memphis, which is currently on Broadway. Huh.

This past weekend I saw the premiere of a new musical, First Date, which was a collaboration between the 5th Avenue Theatre and ACT-A Contemporary Theatre. It's a 90-minute, one-act, seven-actor piece about modern-day dating. I was initially skeptical, unwowed by the bland opening number and stereotypes, but I was won over in the end -- in large part because of the outstanding male lead, Eric Ankrim (who, incidentally, just played Curly in Okalahoma!). He plays Aaron, a Jewish Wall Street trader set up on a blind date with Casey, a Soho artist. He's an open, optimistic BDV (blind date virgin) who is still trying to get over being jilted by his ex; she's a jaded BDS (blind date slut) with a codependent gay boyfriend. They seem opposite in almost every way, and yet, somehow you end up believing that they'll be great for each other.

Unfortunately, none of the music sticks in my head, but the numbers -- such as "The World Wide Web is Forever," about how Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. can ruin your chances with someone before you even meet -- are heavy on dating humor. There are no spectacular, over-the-top dance or vocal numbers, which is in keeping with the more intimate storyline. (Again, Eric Ankrim has a lovely voice, though!) In short, this play isn't gonna go down in history like Oklahoma! and it's not the next Wicked, but single people and those of us who remember well what it's like to be single, will find it amusing. It's at Falls Theatre until May 20.

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