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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

PROUTY: ‘First Date’ is community must-see

Photo courtesy of Gwen Ter Haar.

Whether embarking on a Tinder date, a blind date or a twelfth date, Wisconsin’s premiere of the musical “First Date” has something for everyone.

“First Date,” which runs at the Lake Country Playhouse through July 22, centers around a simple, typical idea: a set up.

Aaron (Matt Ragalie) is a straight-laced, working man who heads to a bar after work to meet Casey (Kiera Matthews) for his first blind date. She’s been on too many to count.

As the night unfolds, the pair experiences the totality of a typical first date rollercoaster. Their first impressions of each other are harsh. Once the drinks come, they start making small talk. It’s going well until uncomfortable topics like religion and exes are brought up. Throughout the date, various “visitors” enter the potential couple’s thoughts. Aaron’s Jewish grandmother makes it known she will roll over in her grave if he goes on a second date with Casey. Casey’s sister begs Casey to take this date seriously, but she’s distracted by her bad-boy ex. These visitors provide a mix of comic relief and more serious overtones.

Eventually, they make their way to a table for dinner, where Aaron gets put in the friend zone. But by the end of a night of self-reflection and intense conversation, Casey has a sudden change of heart and runs after Aaron.

“First Date” was a fast-paced, all-too-relatable, 90-minute show that had the audience laughing and engaged the entire night.

Ragalie and Matthews accurately embodied two extremities of first date emotions, capturing their characters’ personalities perfectly. Ragalie appeared genuinely nervous, while Matthews delivered a balance of humor — fretting over ordering a salad — as well as somberness when sharing insecurities with her sister. Their voices blended together, even when their characters clashed. The small ensemble struggled with mastering that in certain numbers, but as a whole their voices carried throughout the theater beautifully.

The ensemble was tasked with taking on multiple roles, and each cast member took the challenge in stride, ensuring each character was distinct. Ella Folkerts was especially memorable as Casey’s older sister, attempting to guide her through the date with some tough love. Danny Slattery was a fan favorite as Casey’s best friend and bailout call, as he confidently belted three renditions of “Bailout Song.” While Slattery stole the show each time, Morgen Aria Clarey complemented his voice well. Clarey had significantly less of a speaking role, yet she utilized body language and facial expressions as she portrayed Allison, Aaron’s cunning and manipulative ex who left him at the altar.

Other songs such as “The Check!” and “The Awkward Pause,” helped show first date commonalities and emotions while using humor.   

The small set made for an intimate environment, and unlike many small theaters, the singular set was not minimal. It was thought through with decorations and shelves on the wall, and simple table settings. It was vividly colored, with a rustic blue overtone and lighting that set the mood and paralleled the personality of the show. A set of string lights over the bar served as a perfect finishing touch to generate the authenticity of a restaurant.

Unique to Lake Country Playhouse, the band was seated on stage. The five-piece band handled the set up with finesse and clearly mastered the music (Ashley Sprangers). The music numbers in “First Date” were not flashy, nor do they mimic traditional show tunes. In this instance, it’s all for the better as they flowed well with the rest of the performance and seemed to fit like puzzle pieces. On the same note, there’s a lack of choreography, but again, it’s a show that didn’t need it.

This fun-loving, upbeat, eccentric performance is a community must-see, especially for the young adult demographic.

Tickets for “First Date” can be purchased online or at the door.

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