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Random meetings between strangers can create a spark, at least Once


It was a night of romance and randomness for 1,200 Torontonians who were paired up on blind dates to watch the musical Once at Ed Mirvish Theatre June 3.

A love story about two people who meet by chance, Once was the perfect backdrop for the evening, which was pegged as the world’s biggest blind date. Singles were matched based primarily on their response to the question: What’s your favourite musical?

“The main theme of Once is random meetings that create a spark once in a lifetime,” says John Karastamatis, director of communications for Mirvish Productions.

“The experiment tonight is: if you get a room full of people looking for someone else, will something happen while they’re watching a story about people looking for someone else?”

Aman Rajwani, 26, research and special projects co-ordinator at Ryerson University

Nicolas Rodriguez, 24, account manager

“I felt like he tried to walk by, do the drive way and maybe walk past me, but then he was like ‘I’ll sit down, I’ll give this guy a chance.’ He seems really nice and really talkative so we’ll see. Hopefully he didn’t leave,” Rajwani told the Star while his date Rodriguez was in the bathroom.

Hayley Matheson, 21, performer

Scott Alexander, 26, TV production

Nicole Baillie, 20, singer/actress

Both Matheson and Alexander’s dates were no-shows. “I stood up and was going to leave but then I noticed that she was beautiful and had an empty chair beside her so then I just kind of creepily hovered around the general area of the chairs and got my drink behind her at the bar,” said Alexander. “It’s either adorable or stalkerish.” Matheson: “In a setting like this it’s very normal I feel.”

Baillie: “My date’s kinda lame. I sat down and he was like ‘Oh sorry, I just flew in from New York. I work for a really big fancy financial company.’… He was quizzing me on everything I knew and what roles I’ve played.”

Walter Picanco, 38, IT

Zoe Ruth Fairless, 20, student

These two weren’t matched but met each other onstage. Both cared more about the performance than the blind date. “It is what it is. You show up, if something happens it happens, but it’s not my primary focus,” said Picanco. “It gives you someone to talk to during, before and during the intermission,” said Fairless, who was most excited about meeting the cast of Once.

Derek Darch, 26, employment counsellor

Mike Alves, 32, flight attendant

“If it’s match it’s a match,” said Alves. “If it’s not than I meet a new person and there’s going to be plenty of other singles here too.” Darch said he came without “huge expectations. The questionnaire was kind of basic in terms of matching, but I definitely thought at least it’s an experience and it’s a great way to meet new people.”

Joel Pomerantz, 59, project manager

“I’m looking for somebody who likes to get out, do some extreme sports, enjoys a nice bottle of wine,” said Pomerantz, who is generally skeptical about blind dates and online dating. “People are not exactly what they put down on the site.”

Rebecca McNeil, 23, student

Mike Nguyen, 21, student

“Especially in our age group, there very few people who have the money to come to (theatre) because it’s pretty pricey … It’s like 10 movies,” said Nguyen. “I think that’s the hardest part, finding people who are into it.” McNeil: “Or just willing to admit they’re into it.”

TORONTO STAR | ENTERTAINMENT