Review | First Date The Musical – Virtual Production*

Continuing to entertain us throughout this utter shambles of a year, Lambert Jackson productions have pulled another excellent production of out their hats. This time, in association with the Crazy Coqs, they have brought us First Date The Musical. An underrated musical that appeared on Broadway back in 2013 starring Zachary Levi and Krysta Rodriguez, follows Aaron and Casey on their blind date. He’s been set up by a work colleague and she’s been set up by her sister who happens to be Aaron’s colleagues wife. It’s a simple set up – but underneath is a really layered, sweet and delightfully funny musical that’s all about throwing yourself in at the deep end. I went into this knowing very little about the show itself and was pleasantly surprised at how wonderful I found this to be.

Directed by Dean Johnson, the production is more a mini musical film than a standard live performance. Although most of the production takes place in the Crazy Coqs (acting as the bar Aaron and Casey meet at), there are some truly wonderful scenes that take place outside of the venue which further created the atmosphere of of their date and ultimately their world, letting us in on the action. It’s a truly impressive feat that is incredibly well edited with some excellent green screen action.

Now that brings me onto the cast. THIS. CAST. They are everything. The way that Danielle Steers, Nicholas Mclean and Oscar Conlon-Morrey take every single character that has been thrown at them outside of the 2 leads and completely own it, really highlights just how versatile they are and why they are 3 of the best we have in the West End. I have to commend how Danielle Steers tugs at your heart strings in some moments but in the next delivers a hilarious song in which she plays Google. No really. She plays Google. If that’s not one for the CV, I don’t know what is. I loved every single time Nicolas Mclean appeared (in general of course but) as Reggie, Casey’s best friend dialling in every time he think she needed a bailout. There was just something magnetic every time he was on screen. And then there’s the scene stealing Oscar Conlon-Morrey who was just utterly fabulous as the brilliant waiter. This show is an hour and a half, did it need an interval? No, not particularly. But then they decided to use the time by having Oscar staring into the camera ad libbing and honestly, it was genuinely such a great 3 minutes (he loves a Bichon frisée and is a dog whisperer don’t you know).

Now, onto the 2 leads. Simon Lipkin is such a fantastic comedic actor with talent that is as impressive as CV having starred in shows like Rock of Ages and Nativity! I loved how he captured Aaron’s awkwardness but also really delivered in the more tender moments as well. Opposite him as Casey is the incomparable Samantha Barks. Now, if you’re a regular here, you’ll know that I honestly think the world of her. And she is genuinely sensational as Casey. She brings out the cool, hardened front that Casey puts on, adding layers to her performance. She also delivers a stunning vocal performance of a great song in the show called ‘Safer’. How she manages to deliver a really emotional performance while hitting those notes AND sitting down?! I’ll never understand it but what I do know, is that it’s worth the ticket price alone.

Packed with an emotional punch but balances the tenderness with the hilarious, I found First Date to be an absolute gem of a musical. Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner’s score feels very fresh and modern, particularly in the opening number ‘The One’. This production is a very special one that doesn’t come along often, so be sure to get your tickets while you can.

First Date The Musical is streaming TONIGHT! Get your tickets here or be sad forever https://www.fane.co.uk/our-shows/first-date-the-musical/about-the-show

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