Going to a show without knowing what it’s about it not too different from being on a blind date: 1) It can start off shaky, or even horrid, and end up happy; 2) it can begin strongly but ultimately lose its way; 3) it can be shockingly stellar from first moment to last; or 4) it can depressingly start in an awful mode and never recover (where an obvious bailout call is needed). I saw the small-scale musical, FIRST DATE, at the Carrollwood Cultural Center last night without knowing much about it; guess which of the above scenarios matched my experience?
FIRST DATE, with music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner and a book by Austin Winsberg, focuses on an awkward blind date between two New Yorkers, nerdy Aaron and “artsy” Casey. We follow every disastrous and heartfelt moment of their encounter, from the not-very-positive first impressions of each other, to that award pause where neither knows what to say, to the moment they get the dinner check, all leading to the evening’s end, where maybe a hopeful goodnight kiss awaits. It’s an incisive musical at times, sometimes cute, sometimes edgy, with some funny bits and lots of heart.