Onstage ‘First Date’ rescheduled for Feb. 18 and 19
By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Due to the snowstorm last weekend, the Regatta Players will present the musical “First Date” for two additional performances: Saturday, Feb. 18, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 19, at 2 p.m., at the Flanagan Theater in Southgate at Shrewsbury, 30 Julio Dr.
“First Date” is presented through arrangement with R&H Theatricals, whose website offers the show’s synopsis: “When blind date newbie Aaron is set up with serial-dater Casey, a casual drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a hilarious high-stakes dinner. … Restaurant patrons transform into supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents, who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers and potential conversational land mines.”
Heading the production team are Scott Caron as director and Bonnie L. Narcisi as music director, each a Regatta Players founding board member. While they guide performers enacting the real-time story of a couple’s initial encounter, Caron and Narcisi are continuing their longtime creative relationship.
Before retiring as a Shrewsbury High School (SHS) teacher and district director of music and drama in 2014, Narcisi directed Caron in musicals and the a capella choir. Also as a student, Caron assistant directed the musical “The Boyfriend” with her.
“I knew then that Scott has the creativity to be a spectacular director,” Narcisi shared. “He’s very detail-oriented and doing a fantastic job.”
After graduating from SHS in 2008, Caron earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in music theater at the Hartt School, the performing arts conservatory of the University of Hartford. He now divides his time between New York City and Shrewsbury, depending on where he’s working at regional theaters. Caron saw “First Date” in NYC and decided he’d like the show to be his directorial debut with Regatta Players.
“The core message of ‘First Date’ is saying ‘yes’ to something that could possibly be better for you in the long run,” he explained. “It’s not just about them going on a first date; it’s about each of their individual journeys.”
Cast to play the tightly-wound financial analyst Aaron is Justin McCoubry. This marks his first show with Regatta Players.
“Justin’s qualities of openness and eagerness make Aaron’s geekiness work well,” Caron said. “He certainly has a standout voice in conjunction with a wry – and sort of nerdy – sense of humor.”
Regatta Players veteran Tessa Newell is portraying confident and commitment-phobic Casey.
“Casey understands the status between her and Aaron the entire time, and Tessa brings that to life with a lot of humor and awareness of the stakes,” Caron relayed. “It’s very fun to watch her.”
Making his onstage debut is George Smith, who previously worked behind the scenes with Regatta Players. It’s another opportunity for Narcisi to continue a longtime creative relationship because Smith volunteered for many years as president of the Shrewsbury Schools Music/Theater Association. In “First Date,” he’s one of six cast members performing multiple characters. Narcisi particularly appreciates his solo number, “I’d Order Love.”
“As the waiter, George is singing a Sinatra-type swing song – and really selling it,” she raved. “He’s not a shy guy and quick to try things.”
Rounding out the cast, each playing several roles, are Shannon Grasso, Dan Monopoli, Christina Pierro, Stephanie Sarkisian and Ron Vorce.
“They’re all strong character actors,” Caron said of the ensemble. “And they’re each doing a really great job of differentiating their characters.”
The production team also includes Joanne Smith, production manager; Tanya Wilkes, stage manager; and Katie Rodriquez, costumes.
“It’s a fun and different way to spend the weekend leading into Valentine’s Day,” Caron added. “You’ll see a romantic show with twists and turns that will keep you laughing and interested the whole time.”
The Friday, Feb. 10, opening night guests are invited to arrive at 6:30 p.m. for a wine and cheese reception. They’ll also have a chance to win a “Perfect First Date Gift Package.”
Tickets are $15 general admission; $12 students and seniors. Email email@example.com or call 508-925-0583 Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Promotional material notes, “This show contains strong language and adult content.” For more information, visit regattaplayers.com.
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