Alongside Levi (Broadway debut) and Rodriguez ("Smash," The Addams Family) are 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!), Bryce Ryness (Hair, Leap Of Faith, Legally Blonde), Eric Ankrim (Broadway debut), Kevin Kern (Wicked, The Wedding Singer, Les Miz) and Sydney Shepherd (Broadway debut). Playbill.com asked the cast of First Date, via email, to share the stories of their most memorable first dates, ranging from dating disasters and unlikely encounters to finding "The One."
The new musical, featuring a book by Austin Winsberg ("Gossip Girl"), with music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner (Secondhand Lions, Twice Charmed), will officially open on Broadway Aug. 8.
Click through to meet the cast.
Krysta Rodriguez (Casey)
I don't usually go on dates, and never a blind date like in our show… But one very memorable date I had was with an ex-boyfriend of mine on our first anniversary. He had planned this lovely surprise date, complete with a limo and dinner at a very expensive restaurant. We ordered the pricey and delicious tasting menu and dined by candlelight. It was super romantic until the man at the table next to us had a seizure and fell to the ground. The ambulance had to be called and he was carried out. My boyfriend was so disturbed by the incident that he went outside to get air. That's when I got a text from him that simply said, "Help me." I ran outside to find him vomiting in a flowerbed. A $200 meal — in one minute and out the next. We got in the limo, and I spent the rest of the night taking care of him. Happy Anniversary!
Zachary Levi (Aaron)
My ideal first date in NYC would involve a Broadway show, some dinner and some gelato. But not in that order. But not, not in that order.
Watch the Playbill Video where Levi talks about his first date in seventh grade:
Sara Chase (Grandma Ida/Lauren/Aaron's Mother)
I was on a first date with a single guy at a fancy restaurant in NYC, and, during the meal, his phone kept going off. He kept ignoring it, so I didn't think anything of it. Then, an hour later, his girlfriend shows up! He told me he was single (I guess he had forgotten that tiny mistake of telling her!).
Kristoffer Cusick (Reggie/Aaron's Future Son/Edgy Rocker Guy)
My most memorable first date was in Chicago. A friend of mine wanted to set me up on a blind date with a friend of his, and since it sounded adventurous and fun, I thought, "Why not?" We set it up as a double date (to help take the pressure off) for the following week. However, I had just opened the sit down production of Wicked there, and after rehearsals and previews and the opening night party, I had started to lose my voice. The night of the date came, and I called my friend at intermission from my dressing room at the Oriental Theater and told him that I needed to cancel because I was worried that being out drinking and talking all night long would just end up with me unable to sing my shows. I got a call back like two minutes later telling me that instead of going to a bar they had decided we would go to a restaurant somewhere and be more low key and that they weren't letting me cancel because they were already dressed and ready to go out! Sooooo, reluctantly I agreed. We went to an Italian restaurant near my apartment, and I knew instantly that I really liked this guy. We talked and got to know each other, and then after an hour or so they drove me back to my apartment. It was the only time the double date strategy wasn't helpful because I wanted to ask him out again, but it felt kind of weird to do with an "audience" in the back seat… So I got his number, jumped out and thanked him for a great evening and said goodbye to everyone in the backseat. As soon as I was inside the building and in the elevator I was texting him to ask him out again. I hoped that he wouldn't think I was crazy for not even giving it a night before getting back in touch with him. And, luckily…he didn't. Now we have been together for eight years!
Blake Hammond (Waiter/Casey's Father/ Blaze/Friendly Therapist)
My most memorable first date happened about 15 years ago. It was a blind date, and I had been told by a friend that this was a special guy but a bit overweight. Well, hello, I'm a bit overweight, too — no big deal, right? So, my date walked into the bar and he was (how can I put this delicately?) about a 400-pound man. I wasn't really sure how to proceed. I knew instantly this was not for me. This would never work. But being a kind person, I thought, "Just have a drink and be polite — no harm done." Here's where it gets really memorable… After about 15 minutes of talking and laughing and getting to know this man, I realized that he was absolutely charming and adorable and successful and well, damn attractive. We had a splendid evening and dated for about six months. I learned a lot about myself that night and how quick I was to judge the book by its cover. It's a lesson I try to never forget.
Kate Loprest (Allison/Google Girl/Reggie's Mom)
My story is more of a nod to a person who really changed my idea of dating — for the better. About a year ago, I found myself in a crowded bar in the West Village with a few girlfriends. We walked in looking for somewhere to sit and was approached by a guy who generously asked if we'd all like to share a table with him and his friends. Eventually all my friends dispersed to make phone calls or go to the bathroom (whatever), and I was left alone with a bunch of seemingly nerdy, clueless guys, so I decided to throw it out there: "Okay, what are your questions about women? I'm here to answer them honestly." Turns out they had questions, and I had honest answers. So honest, in fact, that one of the guys decided he liked my style and asked me for my number. I decided that his appreciation of my honesty was a better starting point than him liking the fact that I was an actress. Two days later, I got a phone call — not a text — from the guy asking if I was available later that week. We had a great date. He planned the whole night: reservations, drinks before and after, even a little billiards. We agreed to see each other again and said goodnight — nothing deep. Two days later, I got a voicemail from him asking me to call him back. I immediately freaked out! I thought I'd done something wrong, and he was gonna give me the boot or tell me he had a wife or something terrible. So I bit the bullet and called him back. Turns out, he wanted the thank me for a great date and ask me out again but didn't want to do it over text. I'd grown so accustomed to being communicated with via text and Facebook messenger, I didn't recognize the true act of a gentleman. Turns out: chivalry still exists. And now, I won't date anyone who won't call me.
Bryce Ryness (Gabe/Edgy British Guy/Gilberto)
The best first "first date" I ever had was, coincidentally, the best New Year's Eve party I ever attended. It was Y2K, and everyone was in knots about whether the world was going to end at the stroke of midnight, remember? I was still in college, so that Christmas break, I attended a large conference of the southwestern region of the campus ministry I was part of. Coincidentally, the girl at school that I had a mad crush on (Meredith, my future wife) was also attending. Like I said, it was a Christian conference, so the New Year's celebration was all very, very PG-rated. The lights were on (for the most part), everyone was just dancing and having a grand ol' time — nothing crazy, nothing lascivious. Just good, clean fun. So, at the stroke of midnight, I slyly shimmied up to her, counted down, "5-4-3-2-1-"... And, when it was clear that computers were still working and the world had not ended, I planted a sweet, tender kiss on Meredith. Our first kiss, and, I guess, our first date (in a way).
Eric Ankrim (Standby)
A sixth grade Presbyterian boy "meets up" (they planned it, but came separately) with his "girlfriend" at their friend's bar mitzvah (that's the Presbyterian spelling). Underneath the stars (they totally snuck out), sitting on a log, she says, "Your dad's a thief because he stole all the stars from the sky, and put them in your eyes..." He laughs, and says, "That's a pick up line" (like a boss). They both laugh awkwardly, then kiss. Once. Quickly. And forevermore. "Two Princes" by the Spin Doctors is the answer to "What song was playing during your first kiss?" #iknowwhataprinceandloveroughttobe
Kevin Kern (Standby)
When I was 16, I met my future wife, Megan Lawrence, doing a production of A Chorus Line in Newport, KY, right across the river from Cincinnati. (Fun fact, 19-year-old Andy Blankenbuehler was also in the show.) I think the first date we went on was to see the movie "Ghost." I drove my parents' huge conversion van, as I had just gotten my license. I'm pretty sure I weighed about a hundred pounds and had a sweet geek-fro. (No wonder she fell for me!) We went our separate ways and met back up again seven years later in the ensemble of Les Misérables on Broadway. We've had many dates since (including lots of trips to the delivery room), but it all started with a trip to see Swayze make sweet love to that potter's wheel... I mean, Demi Moore.
Vicki Noon (Standby)
My first date with my boyfriend was definitely one of those "Is it or isn't it a date?" moments. We had been friends for a long time, but had never really hung out one on one. I was nervous we wouldn't have anything to talk about. Within a few minutes of sitting down, I think we both realized there was something more there. That restaurant still holds a special place in my heart. It was the first time "we" became a possibility.
Sydney Shepherd (Standby)
As there are too many catastrophic first date stories in this world, I'll share a nice one. We went to the best local coffee shop in Winston-Salem, where, as we chatted, he pulled out a pen and sketched a picture of me on a napkin. (He's quite a good artist. I still have that napkin.) Then, after seeing "My Week With Marilyn" at a local movie theatre, we snuck onto a roof where we were definitely not supposed to be, and the night was so clear we could see plenty of stars. We stayed on the roof for hours, talking, getting to know each other, dancing a bit. Needless to say, there were many more dates to follow.