First Date

In this gossamer confection of a new musical, Aaron (Eric Ankrim), a successful young Jewish investment banker, meets the willful artiste-wannabe Casey (Kelly Karbacz) at a local bistro. Around them, the other patrons take on the imaginary guises of those who influence their evening—parents, clergy, old beaus, etc. Given writer/producer Austin Winsberg's TV background, First Date works best when he lets fly with sitcom-ready dialogue. Yet Aaron and Casey's fragile new relationship never seems anything but authentic—especially in its missteps and detours. Director Bill Berry juggles the action well, giving most of the supporting cast a moment to shine. (The music and lyrics are by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner.) While there are numerous references to contemporary life (particularly social media), this work-in-progress does stumble into the generic. It's as if the L.A. creators of the show wandered into a little Silver Lake boutique that sells set pieces for musicals and ordered one of everything. But overall, there's much more right than wrong to First Date, a show clearly designed to tour, even if it's not quite ready for Broadway. With its crisp dialogue and songs that cling like cotton candy, this little musical deserves your love. KEVIN PHINNEY [See Kevin's full review.]

Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: March 10. Continues through May 20, 2012

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