New Brunswick’s George Street Playhouse launches their new Digital Productions with a one woman show that is sure to please. Bad Dates runs until March 14 and it marks the first of four productions being planned for the Playhouse’s 2021 Streaming Season. Written by Theresa Rebeck, Bad Dates stars Andrea Burns as divorcee and single mother Haley Walker. Peter Flynn, Ms. Burns real life husband, directs and their son, Hudson Flynn, edited this filmed production. If you are looking for something that is a cross between all those Netflix movies you’ve probably been watching and live theater, this production fills the bill.
Background: Development of new productions in this era of the CoVid pandemic presents some unique challenges. Press notes explained that George Street Playhouse “oversaw and maintained strict testing protocols and safety procedures.”
Additionally, Artistic Director David Saint said: “Creating this production was a true family affair. Thanks to a generous GSP Board Member granting us use of her home as a filming location, our star, director, and cinematographer were able to form a safe familial ‘bubble’ and film this one-of-a-kind production from the ground up. We hope patrons will join us as subscribers this year as we work to create high-quality theatre in exciting new ways.”
The results of all this planning and designing is a show that is appealing to a wide audience, fun to watch, and clever in its approach to storytelling. It is also very timely because it centers around a woman choosing to go back out into the world and become an active part of it. This is something many face as the world begins to open up again. Have we gotten so comfortable in our own homes that we will not want to venture out? This story captures some of that feeling very well.
The Story-line: As the play opens, we meet Haley Walker who has decided to reenter the dating scene post a divorce and move with her daughter, Vera, to Manhattan. The opening scenes show many shoes she has accumulated as she tries them on while deciding which pair to wear on her date.
As the show progresses on, Haley’s story cleverly unfolds as she talks about the bad dates she has and a few good ones. Also woven into the story is information about her job. She has worked her way up in a restaurant owned by Romanians. Haley now runs the restaurant and is proud of her work. She realizes there is illegal activity going on with the owners and she makes sure she stays clear of it But she tries her best to keep everything going despite what the background is.
Tightly woven into the story is the relationship between Haley and her daughter Vera. We never see Vera but we learn about her and how important she is to Haley.
The story moves between some funny dialog talking about the enormous shoe collection to more serious issues. Fun to watch are the outfits Haley wears to go out on all dates which range from one time to a more serious relationship over a few months. But all along, Haley changes into a stronger, more confident woman all presented through well written dialog.
Why You Will Want to See Bad Dates: Not only is the story interesting, but the photography used in the filming of this production is first rate. The scenes are richly filled with detailed sets. The ability of the camera to pick up Haley’s expressions is an added plus to telling the story.
There is no doubt that one of the biggest reasons for seeing Bad Dates is the performance of the star, Andrea Burns. Ms. Burns is an accomplished stage actress with credits from Broadway hits In the Heights and On Your Feet. She moves smoothly between delivery of dialog that includes comedy with an edge of sarcasm at time to more serious subjects. The very fine acting given by Ms. Burns coupled with the camera work gives viewers a feeling of really getting to know Haley Walker.
Ticket Information for Bad Dates: Tickets for each show can be purchased for $33 per household at GeorgeStreetPlayhouse.org.
Patrons can also subscribe to all four shows this season for $132.
When your email arrives with your ticket and online link, you will also receive an excellent explanation of ways to watch the show not only on your computer, but also how to mirror or connect your computer to a television set allowing you to enjoy the show on a bigger screen.