First Date’s Last Date with Broadway
By Haylee Fisher (@haylee_fisher)
I recently got back from New York City where I had the privilege of attending First Date’s last performance on Broadway.
As a lifelong fan of musicals, but more importantly as a fan of Zachary Levi, I knew I could not miss this show. Over the course of its run, I had the pleasure of seeing it three times, with each being funnier than the last. I just wish more people had been able to experience it and I was so sad to see it close.
I had never been to the closing night of a Broadway show before so I didn’t know what to expect, but boy am I glad I went. To say it was an emotion-filled night is an understatement! Every cast member was celebrated through thunderous applause for their incredible performances.
My favorite moment of the night, though, came when Zac made his entrance. The crowd went wild. In fact, he started to tear up and had to compose himself before he could even say his first line! It made me so proud to be in an audience who appreciated him and was proud of him and wanted to show that to him.
(My second favorite was during his solo “In Love With You.” It’s a showstopper that got some of the longest applause of the night!)
Lest you think his co-star Krysta Rodriguez was left out of the praise-fest, I’m here to tell you she most certainly was not. As loud as the applause was during her entrance, I think it was even more so during her solo called “Safer.” It was beautifully performed and in turn, was so rewarded. It was obvious she was giving it her all one last time and would be sad to see Casey go.
For those unfamiliar, First Date was Zac’s Broadway debut. It told the story of Aaron (Zac) and Casey (Krysta) on their first blind date. Throughout the night, they imagined the other patrons in the restaurant to be different people in their lives including their best friend, sister, grandmother, or even future child.
Because of that, each member of the cast (besides Zac and Krysta) portrayed multiple parts. They were all playing up little moments here and there for laughs, clearly having a blast before saying goodbye. Each of the supporting cast was given their due for all the hard work they put in and it felt great to repay them for it, especially on closing night.
Blake Hammond’s main role was of the waiter. He had a huge response after his solo called “I’d Order Love.” It’s such a cute song and I was so happy the audience loved it. But he also got a big laugh in the song called “The Girl for You” when Aaron asked if he was Casey’s father (literally) or her Father (religiously) and he answered with, “BOTH!” He was clearly having so much fun the whole time and you could tell he wanted to go out with a bang.
Kristoffer Cusick got some big laughs when Aaron imagined him to be his future son, but he brought down the house as Casey’s best friend Reggie. I had never heard him get louder applause; in fact, I almost thought the audience was going to give him a standing ovation in the middle of the show! That leads me to wonder how many people went home and downloaded one of his “Bailout” songs to be their new ringtone.
He and Bryce Ryness got quite a few hoots and hollers during their song “That’s Why You Love Me” as sung to Casey. They turned up the sex appeal and of course Bryce got a few cheers for his abs. However, the audience primarily loved him as Gabe, Aaron’s best friend. Most of the advice he gives Aaron during the show is awful but that didn’t stop the audience from eating it up.
But most of all, the women of First Date were wonderful. Kate Loprest absolutely killed it as Allison, Aaron’s ex-fiancé. The audience loved her line about what happens after she puts in her retainer at night. Kate is a darn good actor to pull that character off because she’s one you love to hate and she’s nothing like that in real life. In fact, she’s one of the nicest people ever!
Sara Chase is also super nice and so talented and it’s shocking that this was her Broadway debut! Each of the characters she played was so different from the last and she pulled them off flawlessly. As Casey’s sister Lauren, she was bossy. As Aaron’s Grandma Ida, she was overbearing but hilarious. But the most emotional moment of the night came when she was playing Aaron’s late mother during their duet “Things I Never Said.”
She and Zac were not just singing as their characters that night, but also as themselves and essentially closing the chapter on First Date. Zac got so emotional, he couldn’t even sing the last word of the song, but the audience cheered just as loud as ever to let him know we were right there with him.
Shortly after that song, Aaron goes to walk Casey home and Zac knew exactly what to do to lighten the mood. As her apartment is supposed to be around the corner, he normally does some light stretches just to be silly. But that night, he went all out with the stretching, bending over for a toe touch and adding in a tush wiggle for the audience. Krysta acted like she was going to as well, which of course got a lot of cheers, but then waved it off because of her short skirt.
After it was over, Zac made a speech thanking everyone involved in the production. The writers, producers, and creators were then brought up on stage and we applauded them for making such a great show possible. By this point, I had been clapping so much and for so long, I felt like my rings were about to fly right off of my hands! Zac then thanked us, the fans, for making all of it possible. He said actors do what they do to make us laugh and to make us happy and they did exactly that countless times over through First Date. Again, I can’t reiterate it enough how nice it was to reward these actors with laughter and applause for being so funny and doing such a great job in the show. It was wonderful to know I was part of an audience that showed them that much love and appreciation for their work one last time.
The love continued at the stage door, where I have never felt so appreciated after a show before. I’ve been to quite a few Broadway shows and First Date’s stage door was by far the most fun. All of the actors came out to sign autographs and take pictures and they stayed until everyone that wanted one got one. Zac even brought out a portable mp3 player to start a dance party. In fact, they did this every night of the show’s run and the fans really loved it. This particular night, the actors stayed and chatted and sincerely thanked everyone for their support of the show.
I’m so glad I got to experience this show and especially that I got to see it on closing night. Everyone involved in the production is such a sweetheart and I’m so happy to have met them. I’m so proud of them and can’t wait to see what they do next. They brought us happiness and in turn, deserve it all right back.
Thank you to everyone involved in First Date and congratulations on an amazing run!