REVIEW: FIRST DATE
at The Denver Center
by Noah Jordan
From someone that’s been on A LOT of first dates and not a whole lot of second dates, I consider myself an expert on what to expect. Now whether or not it was me doing all the wrong things or me expecting too much from other people, I have no idea. In the end, I somehow landed a prince but let’s just say I don’t necessarily remember all the details of that first date. #whoops
Anyway, back to the reason I’m writing. Denver Center Theatre Company’s production of FIRST DATE might actually be the perfect idea for a first date. Instead of having all the awkward conversations, and obnoxious and overwhelming thoughts yourself, hand over the reins and let this cast do all of it for you, so you can sit back and attempt to look normal next to all the commotion.
FIRST DATE tells to story of Casey (Adriane Leigh Robinson) and Aaron’s (Seth Dhonau) seemingly normal first date. What starts as your standard run of the mill date; complete with awkward introductions, and snap judgements quickly turns into a fast-paced comedy where patrons of the restaurant transform to reveal the inner workings and imagination of our two daters. There are appearances from sassy gay friends, overbearing mothers, unborn children, and slutty exes just to name a few. Some might say that for a majority of the date these two daters are more concerned with everyone else’s opinion and not their own…
I’ll start with the leading players. Robinson and Dhonau serve as a nicely balanced duo. She’s just tough and badass enough, and he’s just nice and soft enough that their stance doesn’t feel forced or unbelievable. You want them to work, and you believe their quick witted banter. And when they’re mid-conversation and something awkward slips, you genuinely feel it. Kudos to casting because there were certainly a few moments I spent #smfh and laughing.
On to the supporting players. Between the three supporting cast members, they make the show a success. They hold the keys to the magic and the majority share of great one liners. From supportive, neurotic, and slightly crazy gay best friend (Burge) to sexy, conniving, and mouth guard wearing ex-girlfriends (Shealy) and even a snarky and to the point waiter (Vega), these three are all over the stage. As soon as they appear you know laughs are sure to follow, and I’m almost positive there are plenty of jokes that i missed because i couldn’t stop laughing long enough to hear them.
Now normally i wouldn’t comment on the space BUT for this show the space is very important … at least in my humble opinion. Set in the Garner Galleria FIRST DATE is only made better! As you sit chugging down a beer and/or politely sipping your glass of appropriate dinner wine you and your date can laugh at the uncomfortable moments while also bonding over topics that at first glance might seem unapproachable on a first date, but lucky for you FIRST DATE tackles them head on allowing for an easy segue later in the evening.
By the end of the night, I’d laughed and I’d had moments of reflection that in some weird way only musical theatre can provide. And while FIRST DATE is by no means perfect or ground-breaking, or something that will leave you #woke for the next few days, you can certainly count on it being a solid and stable choice. Which when it comes to dating (and really most decisions), one thing I’ve learned is there is absolutely nothing wrong with the words solid or stable.
Be sure not to miss your FIRST DATE, playing now through April 22nd at the Garner Galleria Theater in the Denver Center Complex. For tickets or more information, contact the Denver Center Box Office by calling 303-893-4100 or online at www.denvercenter.org.
PHOTO CREDIT: Emily Lozow