With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, Starlight Indoors will share the love (and laughter) of dating in today’s world when it stages the modern musical comedy First Date. Things will heat up in the climate-controlled Cohen Community Stage House on Feb. 3-26 as audience members join Aaron and Casey on their first date, which just happens to be a blind date, too!
What starts as a casual drink at a busy restaurant for blind-date “newbie” Aaron and serial-dater Casey quickly turns into a hilarious, high-stakes dinner. As their date unfolds in real time, the couple soon discovers they’re not alone – restaurant staff morphs into the couple’s family members, opinionated best friends, pushy therapists and even unforgiving exes. The voices in their heads, now embodied on the stage, sing and dance the couple through ice breakers, appetizers and even awkward pauses in conversation.
First Date played on Broadway for five months in 2013. It is the original creation of three talented young writers. Austin Winsberg, writer of the TV hit “Gossip Girl,” wrote the book, while Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner, whose credits include Secondhand Lions and Twice Charmed, penned the music and lyrics. The three, friends since high school and post-college, wrote First Date based on their own experiences in the modern dating scene.
“Almost everyone has their own memorable first dates, and that’s what makes this show so relatable and relevant,” said Caroline Lakin Gibel, who makes her Kansas City directorial debut with First Date. “I guarantee couples and good friends will be giggling and nudging each other as they realize they’ve ‘been there, done that’ in their own dating disasters and successes!”
Gibel, who joined Starlight Theatre in 2012 and serves as the theatre’s director of indoor programming and company manager, feels fortunate to direct a professional cast with strong ties to Kansas City. Starring in the lead roles are UMKC graduates Shea Coffman as Aaron and Lauren Braton as Casey. Although Coffman now resides in Chicago, he’s coming home to Kansas City for this show. A graduate of Raymore-Peculiar High School, Coffman performed locally at Starlight (The Sound of Music in 2014), the Unicorn Theatre and New Theatre Restaurant before moving to Chicago and starring in that city’s original cast of First Date. Braton, a Lee’s Summit High School alumnus, has performed extensively in Kansas City theatres, including Starlight (Cinderella in 2011 and The Sound of Music in 2014), Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Spinning Tree Theatre, Coterie Theatre and many more. This spring she will perform in She Loves Me at Musical Theater Heritage.
“I’m excited to make Kansas City audiences laugh, dare them to fall in love and help them escape the craziness of the world a little bit,” Coffman said.
Rounding out the five-person cast are two more Kansas City actors – Francisco Javier Villegas and Andrew Schmidt – and actress April Strelinger who calls St. Louis home.
Guests attending any of the 25 performances of First Date will be sitting comfortably in Starlight’s heated 12,000-square-foot Cohen Community Stage House; 500 seats are available for each performance.
Show times for First Date on Tuesday-Thursday are 7 p.m.; Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays, 2 p.m. Self-parking is free for all shows, and valet parking is available for $10.
Tickets for First Date can be purchased at www.kcstarlight.com, by calling 816.363.STAR (7827) or at the Starlight box office at 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City, MO 64132. Ticket prices are $36 and $46, and a limited number of VIP tickets with private two-person tables, free valet parking and a free drink are available for $56. Groups of 10 or more qualify for discount pricing through Starlight’s Group Sales department at 816.997.1137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.