by Lynn Marie Macy · March 24, 2014
If you would like to catch a lively, entertaining performance of the new two-hander musical comedy Date Of A Lifetime head straight to New Jersey Repertory Theater in Long Branch.
Writer Carl Kissin and Composer Robert Baumgartner Jr. have crafted a 90 minute musical confection that feels like a mash up between a trendy romantic comedy, Saturday Night Live and an imaginative score reminiscent of the musical style of Marvin Hamlish.
The fun begins when two lonely hearts, Marvin and Katie, each take a leap of faith and participate in a “Rotate-A-Date” session in the basement of Symphony Space in New York City. Marvin suggests they use their limited time to fantasize about how each would imagine their future lives together. Two very different scenarios emerge yet both envision a lifetime connection.
The script exudes humor and inventiveness and includes a number of timely references to things like “cronuts” and “bridgegate” which elicited amused responses from the New Jersey audience present. Director Marlo Hunter has creatively staged the show, which journeys through the future and all over Manhattan. Hunter utilizes every corner of the space creating unique stage pictures and keeping the audience completely engaged throughout. The pace never lulls and the two super-charged performers carry the energy through to the end. The set by Jessica Parks includes rolling furniture, moving panels and projections that help to cleverly suggest the multiple locations. Lighting by Jill Nagle allows imagination to flow and focuses our attention to the moment at hand. Costumes by Patricia E. Doherty were simple but felt just right.
The show is impeccably cast. Jamie LaVerdiere as Marvin and Trisha Rapier as Katie share the perfect combination of attractive and quirky. They accomplish the herculean feat of musically exploring the various aspects of modern relationships with musical facility and precise comic timing.
The best songs include "Roller Coaster", a number that explores the ups and downs of love in Katie’s version of their relationship and another hilarious song she sings about the joy she feels when a man actually listens to her expressing her feelings.
This script has been developed over a period of time and hopefully the creators will continue improving the show. Because fantasy aspects dominate in Date Of a Lifetime we feel like we never get to know the real Marvin and Katie. The play dives so quickly into their imagined lives that the audience does not have an opportunity to really root for the actual Marvin and Katie to find happiness. By the end of their timed date we, like the cynical daters, are still wondering if one is an ax murder or the other an emotional train wreck. If Katie and Marvin were given more time at the onset for the audience to discover their true personalities the pay-off at end would be much greater.
Regardless, Date Of A Lifetime is a light hearted and charming evening of entertaining comedy and song that may very well be coming to a theater near you.