Will it be love at first sight?: ‘First Date’ refreshes the romantic comedy scene on Broadway

Eric Ankrim and Kelly Karbacz in First Date

Eric Ankrim and Kelly Karbacz in First Date

Blind dates are bizarre. Dating in any major city is crazy, especially New York, where most Broadway fans find themselves, is an eccentric category of its own. In such a self-absorbed, character-filled metropolis, there are about a thousand “rules” to follow and, at the same time, absolutely no rules at all.

If you’ve ever been on a New York City blind date (and, trust me, if you live here long enough it will happen), you know what an unpredictable ride it can be.

Whether you end up with the love of your life or a nightmare situation, it’s guaranteed to be a comical experience – even if it’s so disastrous that it takes years before you find yourself able to laugh about it.

Blind dates are so funny that they’ve been included in countless romantic comedies on-screen, and now they’re making their way onto the stage.

The new musical comedy First Date is opening on Broadway this summer.

New musicals are more scarce these days than most of us would like so First Date is a refreshing change of pace from the movie-turned-Broadway-musical formula we’ve been seeing so much. Everyone adores a good romantic comedy and Broadway can never have too many.

Similar to many successful Broadway productions, First Date has created major buzz with its out-of-town performances. The show began in Seattle, collaboration between the city’s ACT Theatre and 5th Avenue Theatre. Written by Austin Winsberg with music by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, the musical tells the story of a blind date from the separate viewpoints of a man and a woman who have just met one another.

First Date will be Winsberg and Weiner’s Broadway debut but they are far from rookies in the musical theatre scene, especially in the Seattle region. This September, as First Date is coming alive on Broadway, the 5th Avenue Theatre will be producing another of Zachary and Weiner’s shows – Secondhand Lions. The show is based on the film and features a book by Rupert Holmes.

Eric Ankrim and Kelly Karbacz in First Date

Eric Ankrim and Kelly Karbacz in First Date

The pair has also written another original musical, Twice Charmed, which first began performances on the Disney Cruise Line back in 2005 and is still well-loved by Disney audiences. Weiner also composed the score for the original musical Liberty Smith, which was performed at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and in Washington, D.C.’s Ford’s Theatre in 2011.

The point? These guys know what they’re doing. The future of the musical romantic comedy is in good hands, and as fans we can all expect First Date to be a hilarious romp through the fearful adventure that is modern dating.

First Date has scored four Seattle Times Footlight Awards and is still playing in Seattle through May 20, starring Eric Ankrim and Kelly Karbacz.

It will begin previews in New York City at the Longacre Theatre on July 9 and will open on August 4. The lead producer of the show is Junkyard Productions, who are also responsible for bringing Memphis to the Broadway stage. First Date also features the talent of director Bill Berry, choreographer Josh Rhodes, and Tony Award-winning set designer David Gallo.


About Claire H.

Writer, performer, picture-taker, New Yorker. Find me on Twitter at @Claire_Hannum.

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