Time to Remember
I think just about everyone of dating age can relate to an awkward first date- in fact, I'm quite sure that "awkward" and "first date" are synonymous terms . A perfect storm of nerves, (sometimes) liquor, expectations, jadedness, ghosts of relationships past, and forced conversations can be a recipe for disaster. It's almost like going on a job interview but the reward being a relationship or sex- it's a hit or miss prospect with no guarantee of a happy ending.
You pretty much know that there will be a happy ending in Kaleidoscope Theatre's current season opener First Date, but that doesn't spoil a thing. That's the joy of this frothy concoction of a musical. It's light and airy , playing on well tread themes, but the brisk pacing and the snappy dialogue succeed on the strengths of the adroit direction of Harley Benner and Bunnie Hibbard and their committed cast. The formidable directing duo excel at this type of musical comedy and wisely choose to not over complicate things by tailoring the staging and choreography to their performers strengths.
Christian Becerra (Aaron) and Malia Sylvester (Casey) are the awkward first daters, and the duo have a lovely chemistry. Christian conveys Aaron's uptight and fussy demeanor without spilling over into caricature and has some lovely moments. Malia's Casey is perfectly jaded and grounded and soars on her heartfelt rendition of "Safer".
The small ensemble plays a multitude of characters and all have their moments to shine-from Hillary McAlindens's feisty Jewish mother, Michael Hunter's aged homosexual waiter who desperately tries to dazzle with jazzhands , Emma Grace Hunter's vocal solos , and Robin Gibson-Grubs earnest take on the runaway bride. Standout performances from Anthony Powiliatis as Aaron's loutish buddy Gabe and Robert Sharp (Reggie)- Casey's gay best friend whose hilarious "Bailout Song" (Casey's backup if the date was heading south , Reggie would call her to give her an out) brought the house down with uproarious laughter. Sharp and Powiliatis also shine in a duo as edgy ex-boyfriends with the rocking "That's why you love me." Lastly, Sharon Carroll in a triumphant return to the Kaleidoscope stage after many years appears as Aaron's mother in the heartwrenching duet with Becerra, "The Things I Never Said".
The set was simple and perfectly evocative of a New York restaurant, highlighted by a beautifully rendered glowing Manhatten skyline. The tight four piece stage band brought much excitement and energy to the show though sometimes they would overpower the vocals- a balance issue I am sure will be worked out.
This production perfectly charmed me- I realized I had a smile plastered on my face from start to finish and judging from the audience's reaction, this was a first date with a happy ending for everyone involved.
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Stephen LaDow is an actor, blogger,singe #r,writer, thinker,dreamer, and supporter of the arts. Follow his blog at Unfiltered-ness.com.
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