WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) -
I had a great time at First Date last night. It is a whimsical, adult romp through the trials, tribulations and anxiety, much of it imagined and influenced by previous dates and relationships- of a first date of two twenty something singles navigating the dangerous urban dating scene. Casey (Olivia Grant) and Aaron (Ryan De Tomi) play the nervous hopefuls and they are both great. Aaron is a terrific actor who fully embodies the good, but nervous, young Jewish guy completely. There is something immensely likable about him even when he sways toward the nebbish. De Tomi never let’s the trappings of the sometimes week book make his character any less believable. He sings so well too.
Grant gives one of her best performances to date here. Finally a role that fits her natural edginess, aloofness and neurosis perfectly. Her solo in the middle of the show is freakishly good. Everything it should be; blending emotion, characterization, depth and great singing chops. I could watch it over and over again.
The rest of the seven person cast inhabit an ensemble of characters from Jewish grandmothers, to therapists, to Casey and Aaron’s ex’s and best friends and siblings and even the waiter at the restaurant (a likable and vulnerable Dan Allington-Turner). Juan Aguair is on fire as a hysterical and hilarious flamboyant best friend of Casey’s and is her predetermined “bail-out” who starts to panic as she doesn’t answer his calls. He is a loopy mash-up of Carmen Miranda and John Leguizemo in Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. His delivery is fast, furious and feels completely spontaneous. He is also very good as one of Casey’s bad boy ex’s. Kudos.
Weston Young brings his great knack for physical comedy to the show as several characters. Young has tremendous energy and moves so wildly and freely he looks like he has no cartilage at all, and his British accent is pretty good too.
Jennifer Walck and Jodi Castello complete the ensemble. Walck plays a toxic ex girlfriend-(that dress!) and Castello, who can sing beautifully, plays everything from a Jewish grandmother to Casey’s concerned sister.
Jonathan Cole and Cameron Young co-directed this fun, frothy, fast moving show-the orchestra is great too. Many thanks to the Watertown Lyric Theater for bringing entertaining musical theater to our community.
Book by Austin Winsberg
Music and Lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner
February 20-22 at 8pm
Bruce M. Wright Memorial Conference Center