Community Theatre Review: First Date The Musical at the Barn Playhouse in Jeffersonville, PA

Closing their regular season, the Barn Playhouse in Jeffersonville, PA presents the area premiere of the musical, First Date.  With a short stint on Broadway in 2013, a book by Austin Winsberg and music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, the romantic musical comedy focuses on the story of a blind date revealing all the awkwardness, insecurities, and sometimes wonderful revelations that usually occur. First Date is cleverly written from beginning to end and is gifted with one of the funniest scripts and scores this reviewer has seen recently on the stage.   The book of the show is chocked full of moments to have you laughing out loud and songs such as “The Awkward Pause” and “The Check!” that pepper the script with all the uncomfortable moments that go hand in hand with the first date scenario. 

Under the direction of Steve Arcidiacono, the cast was led by Robert Frankel (Aaron) and Alyssa Reape (Casey).  The comedic timing and delivery of Frankel is to be noted here.  He drew the audience to like his character’s awkward confidence especially during an unplanned and show-stopping “pickle” episode.  Reape, portraying the edgy, flippant Casey especially blew the audience away with her vocals during her breakout number “Safer.”  

The leading character complemented by a 9-member ensemble who serve double duty as patrons and colorful characters providing a glimpse into the pasts and “what-if” futures of Aaron and Casey.   This 9-member ensemble includes Jennifer Ball, Matt Bookler, Brett Brashers, Brandon Commo, Tony DeCarlo, Christine Kopaczewski, Amanda Morrell, Maddi Sloan and Jennifer Smith.   While onstage for the entire hour and 45 minute, no intermission show, they did a nice job of filling the scenes with their believable background inaudible conversations while not pulling attention and complementing the action in their multiple roles as needed.  They also displayed the playful choreography of Diane Hodgkiss with ease.

Of particular mention, is Brandon Commo who is very memorable in all three special roles he took on. His interpretations of gay best friend to Casey, Aaron and Casey’s future son and imaginary puppet son of Casey were spot on and had the audience roaring with laughter. I couldn’t wait for him to return to the stage each time to see what he would do next. Tony DeCarlo also did a fine job with his role as the waiter who ties it all together lending his own brand of humor to the part. He is always a joy to watch onstage.

The band, under the direction of Laura Burhans, presented a solid performance with a score consisting of various styles.  The stationary set designed by Susan Davit and costumes designed by Eileen Ciccarone also provided a nice setting for this modern-day musical.  While there were some minor mic issues and some scenes could have been lit a little bit more, I am sure they were opening night woes that will work themselves out as the production progresses.

Saying this right up front though folks, this show is for adults only so leave the kids at home!  If you are looking for light-hearted, hilarious feel-good musical, this is the choice for you.

First Date continues through October 12th at the Barn Playhouse in Jeffersonville, PA. Tickets can be reserved by visiting http://www.barnplayhouse.org.

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