The New Jersey Repertory Company has a new show playing now through April 6, 2014 which is sure to be a hit with audiences. The musical "Date of a Lifetime" goes inside the minds and hopes of two single people hoping to find love at a speed dating meet-up event. The show has a book and lyrics by Carl Kissin and music by Robert Baumgartner, Jr. Direction and choreography is from Marlo Hunter who teams up with musical director Daniel Rein to work with the two actors, Jamie LaVerdiere (Marvin) and Trisha Rapier (Katie) with results that are well executed making it a show that gets audiences laughing and applauding for the dating duo.
As the show begins, Marvin and Katie are in their own apartments preparing for another evening out trying to meet that perfect person who may be their future mate. We have to figure they are a little bit older as they are quite experienced in the dating scene and bring a lot of “battle scars” with them. However, they have remained open to the idea of still being able to meet someone and that counts a lot as the story unfolds. We also learn that this is the first time for both of them at speed dating and if all plays out as well, it might be their last time As they head out the door, the overriding question looms: Will this modern rendezvous turn out to be a date from hell, or the date of a lifetime?
In a most unlikely turn of events, Marvin and Katie spot each other and realize immediately that there just might be something about this person that causes them to think they just might have met their date of a lifetime. The plot unfolds as each takes their turn visualizing what their lives together might be like. A realistic approach is presented which includes the ups and downs of everyday life as a couple. In the end, the prospect of potential happiness despite the anticipated heartaches wins out and the couple decides to go out on their first date. And yet in each of their minds, they have already lived a lifetime together.
Well written music with lyrics that explain what the characters are up against make up most of this show. Many references are made to places (ex. MOMA – Museum of Modern Art) and internet sites (ex.Time Out New York) that are a part of the dating scene in New York City. Audience members who are familiar with these references will get a good chuckle. However, the songs that are about life itself are universal and applicable to everyone. A few of the songs that stood out included “Our Redo – Marvin 2.0” that is about having a child and a song “Roller Coaster” which has a musical flow resembling a ride as well as the path love might take. Refrains from that song are later heard in the show as well.
All the action for this show takes place on a small stage that includes a platform towards the back where a piano player is seated to provide all the music for the show. A simple set of jigsaw puzzle cut tables and 2 chairs are cleverly used throughout the show to represent either the speed dating room or the later scenes. One side door is also used in the last part of the story to give one character an exit which creates some of the most poignant moments in the show. The acting pair of Jamie LaVerdiere and Trisha Rapier are wonderful in their roles giving believability to the situations presented. Their energy and fine vocals on the songs are well worth going to see. In fact, this show has appeal for a wide audience. Younger people will enjoy seeing the dating scene that they might be a part of and older people will revel in the unfolding of a love story that shows how growing older together can be the best part of being alive.
Regular performances are Thursdays, Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm; Sundays at 2pm through April 6, 2014 at the NJ Repertory Company Theater in Long Branch, NJ. Go to the theatre’s website, www.njrep.org for more information and ticket purchase.