Josh Rittberg

Staff Writer

Prima Theatre’s First Date is a sidesplitting musical romantic comedy that follows the first date of the nerdy but sweet Aaron (Joshua David Cavanaugh) and the edgier, closed off Casey (Courtney Daniel). The 3 other members of this five-person cast hilariously play the various voices in Aaron and Casey’s head. These hysterical characters include Casey’s gay best friend and Aaron’s overbearing Jewish mother.

Joshua David Cavanaugh was a joy as Aaron. His natural comedic timing and awkward demeanor made Aaron a likable character to follow on this date. While Cavanaugh shines throughout the whole show, his standout number “In Love with You” really gave Cavanaugh a chance to show off his comedic skills and excellent vocals. Cavanaugh’s developed arc for Aaron was a joy to watch as the character grew more confident throughout the date. He shared excellent chemistry with Courtney Daniels’s Casey, and really did an excellent job anchoring the evening.

Courtney Daniels was enjoyably spunky as Casey. Daniels had a tough job since her character is closed off from Aaron, and all the other characters for most of the show. Nevertheless, she was very strong in her comedic moments and had great chemistry with Cavanaugh’s Aaron and the rest of the cast. Daniels especially stood out in her eleven o’ clock number “Safer” as Casey was vulnerable and opened up to the audience for the first time during the evening.

Duane Hespell was wonderful as various characters who included Casey’s devoutly religious father, her therapist, her ex-boyfriend and most memorably the head waiter at the bar where the date occurred. Although Hespell brings much comedic flair to all of his various roles, his standout character is certainly the waiter with a song in his heart. Hespell’s jazz influenced number “I’d Order Love” is hysterical as Hespell humorously dances around the stage with a top hat. This number was a welcome departure from the predominantly pop-rock score, and Hespell delivered the number effortlessly.

Mikey Loblasmo was a comedic tour de force in his various roles. Loblasmo played anything from a stoner ex of Casey’s to her flamboyant best friend Reggie. Loblasmo’s turn as Reggie was a true crowd favorite. Reggie’s bailout song for whenever the character of Casey didn’t answer her phone, always was an incredible burst of irreverent humor.  Loblasmo also shined as Aaron’s macho best friend. His line where he humorously criticized Aaron for ordering a salad on the first date drew knowing laughs from the audience. Loblasmo’s work for his characters was outstanding, in how they were all extremely well developed. His performances were a clear highlight of the evening.

Rori Nogee found great fun in her roles as the controlling women in Aaron and Casey’s lives. Characters which included Casey’s difficult to please sister and Aaron’s obnoxious ex Alison, were played with vivid comedic life by Nogee. She especially shined in her tap dancing appearance as the search engine Google, during a number about internet profiles. Nogee’s shift between more comedic and dramatic roles was very smooth, and she always brought a bright presence to the evening.

J Scott Lapp and Chelsea did an excellent job in directing and choreographing this outrageous comedy. Lapp manages to find moments of intimacy within this irreverent evening of theatre that is especially refreshing, and made the comedic moments shine even more. Lapp’s choreography also brought much variety to the evening as the numbers shifted from pulsing rock to a more traditional Broadway sound in the case of the number “I’d Order Love”.  The band, led by Andy Roberts, played Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner’s score with outstanding energy and flair.

Although Prima Theatre’s production of First Date is certainly nothing deep or life changing, it is a wonderful evening with bright performances and   hysterical comedic moments. This musical is about a first date, but audiences may find that once is not enough for this wonderfully entertaining production.