First Date, First Choice

First Date, First Choice

The cast of First Date (left to right): Sara Chase, Bryce Ryness, Zachary Levi, Kristoffer Cusick, Krysta Rodriguez, Blake Hammond, Kate Loprest
(Photo: Joan Marcus)

1. Like the title implies, the show is about a blind date, played out in real time from cocktails to dinner to check. Full disclosure: Either because I choose not to remember my own first/blind dates or because I never had them, I came to the Longacre Theatre as a tabula rasa. A dating-game virgin, if you will. And that’s a good thing: I learned something about the ways of the world.

2. First Date isn’t based on a play, a book, a TV show or another musical. It springs from its writers’ experience and observation, and, for the record, they are Austin Winsberg (book) and Alan Zachary & Michael Weiner (music and lyrics). I found their work funny, clever, even moving. So what if the whole boy-girl, opposites-attract thing is a cliché? It's how the cliché is handled that matters, and here it's handled engagingly.

3. At 90 intermissionless minutes, First Date moves at a fast clip, thanks to Bill Berry’s razor-sharp direction. Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to your own dinner date. (Let me recommend Pongsri Thai on the same block as the Longacre: Tom Yum Goong soup, Chinese sausage salad, Forget-Me-Not (grilled) prawns and Panang curry with chicken—all yum, in the English sense of the word.)

4. The seven-member cast is first-rate, but none more so than leading man Zachary Levi in his Broadway debut. In charisma and talent, he’s up there with Steve Kazee (2012 Tony winner for Once). Levi is the complete package.

5. The audience lapped it up.

» First Date, Longacre Theatre, 220 W. 48th St., btw Broadway & Eighth Ave., 212.239.6200

» Ponsri Thai, 224 W. 48th St., btw Broadway & Eighth Ave., 212.582.3392