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If you are able to laugh about your first date now you’ll find Stage 212’s ‘First Date’ hilarious

Awkward silences. Staring into your drink to avoid eye contact. Verbal miscues you’d give anything (anything!) to take back.

If you’ve ever had a painful first date (who hasn’t?), then you’ll find big laughs at Stage 212’s off-season musical comedy.

“First Date” tells the story of Aaron (Nick Kalina) and Casey (Becky Christopherson) paired by friends and family. They find they have nothing in common — she’s bohemian, he’s Wall Street — and their get-to-know-you evening doesn’t exactly go as planned. In between the comedic dialogue are asides and flashbacks depicted by actors who flit in and out of the stage and break into song.

“When I read the script, I thought ‘Wow, this show is really funny and the music is amazing,’” said Christopherson. “This show has characters that everyone can relate to. It has something for everybody.”

That goes double for people who still cringe at the memory of their first date. Kalina still chafes a bit at the memory of his first-ever date — an encounter closely supervised by his parents and hers — and finds the show “more relatable” in adulthood.

It helps that the script by Austin Winsberg (music and lyrics by Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner) features all-too-human characters that give Kalina and Christopherson freedom to flesh out their roles while also playing for raucous laughs.

“I’m an awkward guy who doesn’t know what to do in this situation,” Kalina said. “He’s trying to figure out life and he’s career-driven but at the same time he’s looking for something more substantial.”

Directing the show is Reid Tomasson, a veteran of Stage 212’s children’s theater who’s making his directorial debut in an adult program.

“‘First Date’ is a comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously,” he said, “and unlike a lot of comedies it’s pretty realistic in a sense. There are parts when they bring in imaginary characters such as an overly-religious father or a hypothetical child. They’re very goofy, very over-the-top and it makes it enjoyable for the audience.”

Tomasson certainly picked some adult material to make his adult debut. In fact, “First Date” comes with two advisories.

First, act fast if you think you might be interested. As an off-season production, “First Date” will be staged Sept. 20-22 with zero chance it’ll be held over, however brisk the audience response.

Second, you might want to leave the kids at home. Producer Christin Mitchell said the script includes its share of salty dialogue and sexual innuendo, giving it a rating north of PG-13; but a good time awaits those who enjoy a music and comedy done in a shade of blue.

“We have a really good cast — a lot of people who’ve worked together before — so we’ve just been having a good time,” Mitchell said.

The cast includes actors playing multiple roles or performing in the rock-based chorus including Doug Bartelt, Joey Santos, Elijah Kleinau, Michelle McClane, Melanie Maskel, Naomi Ochubah, Sam Obermiller, Isaac Alvarado, Macy Anderson, Nick Hancock, Grace Stachowiak, Scot Smigel, Caryn Brown, Megan Cullinan and Sarah Breyne.

“First Date” is presented through special arrangement with R & H Theatricals: www.rnh.com.

Want to go?

“First Date” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 and Saturday, Sept. 21 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 22. Tickets are $20 and available at www.Stage212.org or at the box office, 700 First St., La Salle. Box office hours are 4-6 p.m. Monday, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday and one hour prior to performances. For details, call (815) 224-3025.

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or TCollins@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_Court.

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