First Date Closes Out the TUTS Underground Season for This Year

In First Date, Jessica Janes plays Casey, a woman who's made a game out of going on first dates and developed an attitude about it.

“She goes on a lot of blind dates so it becomes sort of a game to her. She goes into it trying to find what's wrong with the other person,” says Janes, (LMNOP, Reefer Madness, The Music Man. “Today's dating world is tough because we have the Internet. We can make judgments maybe unfair judgments, before giving people a chance.”

On the other side of the table is Aaron (A.J. Shively whose Broadway credits include La Cage Aux Folles) who is trying to deal with her increasingly tough questions.

“He's trying so hard to play along with all my interrogations; he's trying to roll with it as well,”Janes says. Other actors sit in the restaurant surrounding them and at various times become different characters, Janes says. “So my sister suddenly appears giving her conservative advice.”

Janes is one of the local actors that TUTS Underground has encouraged with a lot of assignments. She says the troupe of actors that has grown up around the venture in Hobby Center's smaller Zilkha Hall, have really bonded. She says this role was unusual for her in that in her own life she's only dated people after knowing them for a while. The idea of a blind date, she says, “that'd be scary.”

There will be a preshow to the 90-minute, one-act musical, she says. “The band will be playing cabaret style music with different different actors singing other songs. So don't be late.” As it has with other productions, TUTS Underground will have an onstage, functioning bar open to the audience before the show.

Performances of First Date are scheduled for June 11-21, 7:30 Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at  Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center, 800 Bagby. Visit or call 713-558-8887. $29-$53.
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Margaret Downing is the editor-in-chief who oversees the Houston Press newsroom and its online publication. She frequently writes on a wide range of subjects.
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