By Karen Isaacs
First Date the small musical now at Seven Angels Theater in Waterbury through April 7 would have been a lot more enjoyable if the sound levels had been turned down a notch. Perhaps it was because I was sitting in row two, relatively close to the band, but it was close to impossible to understand the lyrics.
That was too bad, because this is an enjoyable show. The title pretty much sums up the concept of the show. We have two people on a first date, a blind date at that. Aaron and Casey have been set up by her brother-in-law and sister.
The characters are all stereotypes. Aaron is the nerdy guy who works in finance. This is his first blind date and he is not only nervous but manages to put his foot in his mouth within moments of meeting Casey. She on the other hand is experienced at these dates and has blunt way about her.
Of course, there has to be hidden depths to them – but let’s not have these be too deep.
So the date doesn’t start promisingly. The premise is that we are constantly going into the mind of both Aaron and Casey at various moments as the evening wears on. The other people in the bar, and the waiter, become these people in their lives. Thus, Casey’s sister shows up to urge her to find the “nice guy” in Aaron and to break down the wall she has built around herself. Aaron’s buddy pops in to give him advice including to stop obsessing about Amanda, the woman who left him at the altar. Allison also appears in Aaron’s mind as a temptress. Casey has her own past including a liking for “bad boys,” two of whom show up to remind her of their virtues – which don’t include working, having money or treating her well.
Early in the show, Aaron discovers that though he and Casey know many of the same people from their hometown, his assumption that she is Jewish is incorrect. That triggers a scene of family hysteria from his (in a parody of Fiddler on the Roof’s “Tevye’s Dream”) and hers who is equally horrified.
Are they mismatched? Do you really have to ask? It turns out that Casey’s sister, Lauren, does get through to her; she does realize that she backs away from things and people because of a fear of being hurt or failing. Aaron manages to overcome not only his social awkwardness but sever the emotional hold of Allison.
The songs hit on contemporary themes including the fact that you can’t erase your past from the internet. A touching moment is “The Things I Never Said” which is song by Aaron’s mother and “I’d Order Love,” a nightclub song sung by the waiter.
That may be the problem with the show and this production. The songs don’t land as they should; it is telling that the two most memorable songs are not song by the leading characters.
Christina Carlucci and Constantine Pappas are fine as Casey and Aaron. They seem to develop some real chemistry as the date goes along. I have to blame director Sasha Bratt for the performances of the five member ensemble. It seems as though Bratt has gone for extreme stereotypes performances which may be amusing, but only in small doses.
First Date is a fun evening but make sure you sit farther back in the theater.
For tickets visit Seven Angels Theatre.or call 203-757-4676.