PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: First Date — Kiss Today Goodbye

By Harry Haun
09 Aug 2013

Blake Hammond
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
She doesn't get a word in edgewise in her favorite scene — "the one at the end of the show where Zach tells me to F-Off. What's amazing is the bigger the response, the better job I've done with the audience hating me. It's a fun acting moment for me."

Berry's attentive direction came in for some praise from her. "Bill is an expert at those tiny, little, finite details. He let us do and feel, and he would kinda manage — not even micromanage. He'd say, 'Take an extra beat' or 'What if you said it this way?' or 'Speed it up,' whatever it is. It was that easy. You'd say, 'Bill, I feel I'm not getting the best out of this line,' he'll try to make it better. He's also the nicest note-giver ever. It's never 'What in the hell are you doing?' They're 'Have you tried next time to possibly please...' He's a pro about that, about not making you feel small."

Hammond couldn't be happier that somebody threw a showstopper ("I'd Order Love") his way. "So often the character actor gets to sing a number that's not always the best, and this one has a great feel to it and that style. And it actually facilitates their love. The waiter's an outsider, watching the two get together. He doesn't really have anything at stake, but he enjoys watching them meet and fall in love."

No, Hammond has never been served by a waiter like the one he plays here — "and I've never had to be a waiter before, but I said to my mother today, 'I'm learning what it's actually like for real now because I literally must wait on tables on stage.'"

Among the two-by-twos who survived a first date: Derrick Baskin of Memphis and de'Adre Aziza of Passing Strange; Memphis' Kevin Massey and Newsies' Kara Lindsay; In the Heights duo Eliseo Roman and Mandy Gonzalez; TV's "Family Guy" Seth Green and wife Clare Grant; funny lady Julie Halston (about to break in her new act, Classical Julie, at Birdland Aug. 12 and 19) with her Sirius hubby, Ralph Howard; choreographer Sergio Trujillo and actor Jack Noseworthy; silver-suited Max von Essen and Elizabeth Stanley of Cry-Baby; newlyweds Meghan Woollard and Newsies' Corey Cott; Rock of Ages' Ashley Spencer and hubby Jeremy Jordan, formerly of Newsies, and Sarah Stiles and Howie Michael Smith, both formerly of Avenue Q.

Also in attendance were Orfeh; the Tony winners for The Life (Chuck Cooper) and The Book of Mormon (Nikki M. James); Aladdin director-choreographer Casey Nicholaw; the last, late Jekyll & Hyde (Constantine Maroulis); Avenue Q Tony nominee Stephanie D'Abruzzo; Memphis Tony nominee Montego Glover; producer-actress Jana Robbins; producer-comedienne Jamie deRoy; producer-actress Tamara Tunie; Yvette Nicole Brown from TV's "Community"; Carly Rose Sonenclar; two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz, the forthcoming Big Fish; Emma Kenney of TV's "Shameless" and Christina Sajous of Spider-Man.

"Zachary, Zachary. Zachary, Zachary." That was the post-show exchange when Zachary Quinto rushed forth to congratulate Zachary Levi on his performance. In less than six weeks, the former will be joining the latter on Broadway via the revival of The Glass Menagerie. Suffice to say, after decades in mothballs, it's the year of Zacharys on Broadway. Not only is there another one in First Date, more are on their way — namely, Zachary Unger in Big Fish and Zach Braff in Bullets Over Broadway. Only Unger has been on Broadway before (once before, fleetingly, in Chaplin).