Q: It is fact universally acknowledged that rom-coms are here to stay - it is a genre that has been around for decades. Audiences love this charming and relatable type of story - the meet-cute, the butterflies, the goodnight kiss. What do you think keeps this genre so prominent?
A: Romantic comedies are indeed one of the most popular and prolific story structures in theatre, film, and television, and it’s pretty simple to figure out why this is so. Romance and laughter are two of the most life-affirming experiences the human condition has to offer. Our own lives may or may not include a significant other, and they may or may not contain plenty of hilarity, but while watching a romantic comedy for a couple of hours we can enjoy the work of storytellers who have manipulated the fictive universe in such a way so as to remind us that the good feelings created by loving and laughing are extremely helpful in living a rich and satisfying life.
First Date is a unique and clever variation on the RomCom theme, because while it uses the tried-and-true device of a blind date which starts pretty badly, its convention of using the “others” in attendance at the restaurant where the date is occurring (the waiter and other dinner patrons) as the voices in the heads of our protagonists, is original and alternately hilarious and moving. All of us carry around these invisible commentators in our head, but rarely have they been so effectively dramatized as they are in First Date.
This particular production of First Date has been a special pleasure to help create because of the powerful alchemy of working with Theatre TCU faculty and students, along with some of the finest theatre professionals in DFW. It’s been exciting to see new professional friendships and camaraderie develop, and to watch those collaborations bear fruit on stage as we’ve rehearsed and polished the show. It’s our sincere hope that audiences will have at least as much at First Date as we have had in working on it.
This musical had a modest Broadway run in 2013, with Zachary Levi and Krysta Rodriguez as Aaron and Casey. Subsequent professional productions have been mounted in Japan, Argentina and Australia – a testimony to the universality of this kind of story: two hopeful romantics who yearn for a satisfying relationship but are hemmed in by extremely identifiable hang-ups: a fear of vulnerability and commitment, and the lingering wounds of failed romances in their past. If First Date has a familiar and comfortable story arc (and it does), there’s no need to apologize for an evening that deals honestly with common human frailties, and does so in such a lively and entertaining way. On the contrary, those are theatrical treats worth celebrating, so… Hooray for Romantic Comedies! Hooray for Musical Theatre! And Hooray for Stage West and Theatre TCU!