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Krysta Rodriguez played Ana Vargas in the recently canceled backstage-on-Broadway TV series Smash, and Zachary Levi earned a fervent following in the title role of NBC's Chuck. Both performers have backgrounds in the theater, and they'll be together on Broadway this summer in the premiere of the musical comedy First Date. ( Matthew Murphy)

Broadway's 'First Date': A Greek Chorus Of Emotional Baggage

by NPR Staff
Jul 7, 2013 (All Things Considered)

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Many fans of the TV show Chuck fell in love with the nerd-turned-unwitting spy at the heart of the show, but most probably didn't know that he could sing.

Zachary Levi is now rehearsing for his first role on Broadway — a new musical comedy called First Date — which also features Krysta Rodriguez, the star of another NBC program, Smash.

The musical is based on a simple concept: two people on a blind date that goes cringingly wrong. But it's not just about the couple; each character brings along all the baggage from the past relationships — and those voices in their heads provide the musical with its "Greek chorus."

Weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rebecca Sheir met with Zach Levi and Krysta Rodriguez in New York after one of their rehearsals and talked to them about the show.


Interview Highlights

About the musical

Zachary Levi: "It's very relatable. It's this thing that you know, that anybody — well, almost anybody — can look at and go, 'Oh, I understand what's going on there.' All the things we talk about in the date, from past experiences and exes, to you know, politics and religion."

"[It's about] two people in this crazy world that may or may not click, but maybe they do, but maybe they don't, but maybe they do and will they end up together or not — I won't ruin it for you, you have to see the play."

Krysta Rodriguez: "In a real-life first date, there's so much more going on than just the two people at the table ... your past experiences, and your fears and all of your weird habits. And so that's sort of what these people in the show represent. They come out of the scene as patrons, and then they become voices in our heads or the complications and baggage that we bring along, and the things that keep people from getting together."

On how Zachary Levi ended up doing a musical

Zachary Levi: "Dumb luck. They thought, 'Hey, that guy kind of sings! Let's see if he wants to do a musical.' I'm joking, but that was kind of how it happened. There had been some names kicked around when they knew they were bringing it to Broadway, and somebody had brought up my name. And I was almost in [the musical] Young Frankenstein, but Chuck, the pilot, got picked up, and I went and had to do the show, so those that knew ... knew, 'Oh, that guy who's never done Broadway, almost did Broadway, and wants to do Broadway.' "

On deciding to take the role

Zachary Levi: "I'm a spiritual guy and I believe that you know that things kind of come at you in certain ways and you should take note of it. And so I took note of [being offered the role] and, you know, meditating on that, and thinking about it really hard, and talking to God and being like, 'Hey man,' and being like, 'Is this it? Is this what I'm supposed to do?'

"I always wanted to live in New York. I always wanted to do Broadway. And I just had an overwhelming peace, like 'Yeah, yeah, this is it, I'm going to do this, I'm going to move to New York, I'm going to go live in a city I've never lived in that's 3,000 miles away — after living my entire life in Southern California and perfect weather.' "

On living in New York

Zachary Levi: "I don't own enough linen, I don't know how to get through the humidity, this is crazy! What is going on?"

Krysta Rodriguez: "He's very jealous of my sundresses."

Zachary Levi: "I'm very jealous. Men need a version of the sundress. I don't know what that is, just something that's breathable, and also has many applications, it could be casual and also at a dinner party, whatever."

On chemistry

Krysta Rodriguez: "People will always talk about how our chemistry is really great, and we're sort of like, 'Well, maybe we should temper that a little bit, because we're not actually supposed to like each other that much for a while.' "

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