Review Roundup: FIRST DATE Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!
Matt Windman, AM New York: "First Date" - a new Broadway musical about, you guessed it, a first date - is just as generic, pedestrian, bare and altogether uninteresting as the title implies that it will be...To extend what could have been a 10-minute skit into 90 minutes, the date is constantly interrupted by a flamboyant waiter (Blake Hammond) and voices in the characters' heads representing their friends, family and ex boyfriend/girlfriend...The songs, co-written by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, are tuneful enough to show that the team has promise. On the other hand, Austin Winsberg's sitcom-style dialogue lands few laughs. Levi...is sincere, but overplays the geekiness, while Rodriguez...manages to add signs of character depth. Too bad Levi and Rodriguez couldn't have just done a production of "The Last Five Years" instead.
Scott Brown, Vulture: The songs (by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, of the upcoming Secondhand Lions) are pleasant, often energetic Broadpop bonbons with better-than-average lyrics, but apart from Gay Bestie's oft-repeated "Bailout Song" (performed with flair by Kristoffer Cusick), they won't haunt your dreams or even your cab ride home. They do have a balls-out confidence when it comes to avoiding daintiness, and there's wit, warmth, and charm in sufficient abundance to keep us engaged for 90 minutes...The creative team's real achievement begins and ends with casting. It isn't so much that Levi and Rodriguez exceed the rather restricted types they're playing; it's how they keep making us forget that they're playing types. In those moments, you're watching chemistry, not math, and the show's inherent agreeableness and take-me-I'm-yours-I'll-do cuteness come oozing through.
Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News: Let's just say it: The mating-game musical "First Date" isn't first-rate. Third-tier is more like it. Or below-deck, since this singing catalogue of cliches by a team of Broadway rookies would fit better on a cruise ship than the Great White Way...The songs are peppy but generic. The script boasts a couple of laughs...But that's a bright spot amid buzzkill...[Berry's] strategy: Throw in lots of tricks to see what sticks - megaphones, a leaf blower and talking video screens...Despite such clunkers, Rodgriguez cuts a strong presence. She has a pretty, but not especially colorful, voice. Levi, who sang in the cartoon "Tangled," is a pleasant enough singer and does the required geeky self-deprecation very well. All fine, but not enough to recommend the show.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post: But the show really rests on Levi's shoulders - and he carries it effortlessly. The only clue we had that he could carry a tune was from his duet with Mandy Moore in Disney's "Tangled." Here, he turns out to be able to do far more than just sing a song: He can sell it. His 11 o'clock number, "In Love With You," is a tour de force of comic timing, physical clowning and effective interpretation.
Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record: Levi (TV's "Chuck") and Rodriguez (TV's "Smash") both sing well, and establish a very winning rapport. It would have been nice to get to know Aaron and Casey in more tranquil circumstances.
Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg: As in Simon and Marvin Hamlisch's "They're Playing Our Song," Aaron's and Casey's friends keep popping out of the furniture to give them foolish advice, which they mostly ignore. Casey's best friend (gay, of course) keeps phoning for an update, and boy is he frustrated when she doesn't pick up. "First Date" is harmless and instantly forgettable.
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus