Bryce Ryness, Eric Ankrim and More Complete Cast of First Date; Zachary Levi Will Take Short Hiatus During Previews
By Michael Gioia
Tony Award-winning producer Junkyard Dog Productions (Memphis) announced June 7 that Bryce Ryness, Eric Ankrim, Kevin Kern and Sydney Shepherd will join Zachary Levi (TV's "Chuck," Disney's "Tangled," upcoming "Thor: The Dark World") and Krysta Rodriguez ("Smash," The Addams Family) in the new Broadway musical comedy First Date.
Producers also announed that the role of Aaron (Levi) will be played by Eric Ankrim, who originated the role in the 2012 Seattle production, from July 16-21, as a result of a standing commitment for Levi. The First Date box office at the Longacre Theatre will open June 10.
The work, which received a Seattle premiere co-produced by A.C.T. and the 5th Avenue Theatre, features a book by Austin Winsberg ("Gossip Girl"), with music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner (Secondhand Lions, Twice Charmed). Previews are scheduled to begin July 9 at The Longacre Theatre.
Bill Berry (producing director of The 5th Avenue Theatre), who helmed the world premiere, will direct the Broadway production, and Josh Rhodes (Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella) will provide musical staging. Opening night is set for Aug. 8.
The cast includes Levi (Broadway debut), Rodriguez ("Smash," The Addams Family), Sara Chase ("Arrested Development," The Toxic Avenger), Kristoffer Cusick (Wicked, Rent), Blake Hammond (Sister Act, Billy Elliot), Kate Loprest ("Boardwalk Empire," Hairspray), Vicki Noon (Wicked, Mamma Mia!), Ryness (Hair, Leap Of Faith, Legally Blonde), Ankrim (Broadway debut), Kern (Wicked, The Wedding Singer, Les Miz) and Shepherd (Broadway debut).
Here's how the new Broadway musical is billed: "When tightly wound Aaron (Levi) is set up with serial-dater Casey (Rodriguez) a quick drink at a busy New York restaurant turns into a hilarious, high-stakes dinner. As the date unfolds in real time, the couple quickly finds they are not alone on this date as Casey and Aaron's inner critics take on a life of their own when other restaurant patrons and the wait staff get into the act. Dinner is served with sides of Google background checks, fake emergency phone calls, supportive best friends, manipulative exes and protective parents, who sing and dance them through ice-breakers, appetizers and potential conversational land mines. First Date is Broadway's new hysterical and hopeful new musical about the chances we take to find love."
The creative team includes scenic designer David Gallo, costume designer David C. Woolard, lighting designer Mike Baldassari, sound designer Kai Harada and hair designer Josh Marquette. Musical supervision, vocal and incidental arrangements are by Dominick Amendum, and August Eriksmoen will orchestrate.
Tickets, which went on sale April 1, can be purchased at Telecharge.com or by calling (212) 239-6200.
First Date is produced by Junkyard Dog Productions (Randy Adams, Marleen and Kenny Alhadeff, Sue Frost) in association with Stem Productions, Altar Identity Studios, Alex and Katya Lukianov, Susan W. and James C. Blair Family LP, Linda and Bill Potter, Yasuhiro Kawana, Vijay and Sita Vashee, Kevin and Lynn Foley, Jeff and Julie Goldstein, Edward and Mimi Kirsch, Frank and Denise Phillips, Paula and Stephen Reynolds, Alhadeff Family Productions/Sheri and Les Biller , Pat Halloran/Laura Little Theatrical Productions, Tony Meola/Remmel T. Dickinson and John Yonover, and ShadowCatcher Entertainment/Tom and Connie Walsh.
The musical was originally co-produced by The 5th Avenue Theatre (David Armstrong, executive producer and artistic director; Bernadine Griffin, managing director, Bill Berry, producing director) and A Contemporary Theatre Seattle, WA (Kurt Beattie, artistic director, and Carlo Scandiuzzi, executive director).
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