Second 'Date*': Off-Center-born exploration of online dating debuts at Avenue Theater


Luciann Lajoie is not the type of woman you would expect to become addicted to online dating. She’s smart, outgoing, confident and, by any pop-culture standard of outward beauty, well … a beauty.

It has been estimated that more than 40 million people have tried online dating in the U.S. alone. Lajoie is one of them. But Lajoie soon found herself going on as many as three dates in one night. As quickly as she lost interest in one, she was on to another. Along the slippery slope she met with disappointment, loneliness, danger … and plenty of comedy. Just no knight in shining HTML.

If online dating should have been easy for anyone, it should have been for Lajoie. But, she is here to say, “It’s not so easy.”

How did this happen?

When she was 4, Lajoie dressed in a Princess Diana wedding dress for Halloween. She moved to New York hoping to make it big as an actor, and came home to Colorado in her 30s and still single. That’s when she set her sights on a different but presumably attainable dream: She started looking for the wedding ring and the Range Rover and the kids that tend to come with them, she said, “because that’s what I thought was going to make my story complete.” 

Instead, her foray into online dating became a portal into what she calls a journey of self-discovery. It was Lajoie’s mother who first suggested she start chronicling her experiences. Lajoie took that one step further by interviewing 150 other online daters and harvested stories spanning gay, straight, black, white, Mormon, Jewish and fetishists.

All that became the basis for Lajoie’s continually evolving one-woman multimedia theatrical show called Date* — a comic and human quest to find love online. And it reintroduces itself tonight at the Avenue Theatre for a three-week run again featuring Lajoie as the writer, star and self-producer.

Lucinann_Lajoie_Date_Avenue_250Date* was first staged in 2012 as a co-production with Emily Tarquin and Charlie Miller of the DCPA’s Off-Center @ The Jones – a kind of petri dish for developing new theatre works. Date* distinguishes itself from most one-actor monologues by fully incorporating Lajoie’s interviews. 

Working with filmmaker Jamie Pelz, Lajoie took excerpts from her conversations and turned them into scripted, recorded confessionals that are performed by more than 25 local actors. The result is a one-woman show featuring Lajoie, her laptop, a bottle of wine and dozens of two-dimensional supporting characters. Local theatre aficionados may recognize Edith Weiss, Chris Kendall, Brian Colonna, Erica Sarzin-Borrillo, Devon James, Karen Slack, Erin Rollman, Emily Davies and Judy Phelan-Hill, among others. It’s such an impressive list that in early incarnations of Date*, the filmed actors threatened to upstage the lone live woman sharing the stage with them. 

Lajoie has performed Date* in Denver; Scottsdale (Ariz.); and Austin, Texas. But the show she debuts back in Denver tonight, she said, is essentially new. That’s largely thanks to a fortuitous dog-sitting job she got supervising canines belonging to acclaimed theatre director Sabin Epstein, who has helmed several Theatre Company shows for the DCPA including To Kill a Mockingbird. Epstein had seen Date* when it was first staged by Off-Center, and so when fate brought Lajoie and his dogs together, he offered the first-time writer a new creative direction.

“He wanted to take the focus away from the interviews and come back to my story,” Lajoie said.

As an exercise in story structure, Epstein challenged Lajoie to write Date* from scratch, leaving the filmed interviews out completely. Six weeks later, when Epstein was convinced Lajoie’s story could stand on its own, they reinserted some filmed excerpts, but only those that directly related to her story.

“It used to be two separate worlds,” Lajoie said. “Now, it’s very clear that I am watching these videos. I am taking in what they are saying. I’m learning from them, and that is informing my decisions. So they are really more of a Greek chorus now, which is awesome. I feel like I am in really good company up there.”

The resulting play, she said, is now about a woman coming to terms with how to look at being single. “It really comes back to dealing with yourself,” Lajoie said. “And we are just using the online dating addiction as a vehicle to illustrate her journey.”


Lajoie’s journey as a writer, she said, “was to finally tell the story I want to tell, and to let it get dark and messy if that’s what it needs to be.

“I realized that if this is going to be an interesting piece of theatre, it has to be a hero’s journey. And to be a hero, she has to struggle with something. It’s great to have all these things happen along the way that are funny, but if there is not also a message to impart that you find to be extremely important, it’s all for naught.”

Date* was Lajoie’s first attempt at playwriting, and she needed help. Off-Center’s Tarquin was invited to a reading at Lajoie’s apartment in 2011. In those early days, Lajoie was trying to write Date* as a traditional play with four actors. Tarquin disabused her of that notion. 

“I told her I thought it should be a one-woman show,” Tarquin said, “and that we’d just create a lot of work for Charlie.”

She refers to Charlie Miller, the DCPA’s resident projection and multimedia expert.

“Luci’s story is so interesting, you really just have to tell it as it is,” Tarquin said. “She writes herself so well, in fact, I think this might be one of the best one-woman shows I have ever seen.”

Lajoie knows how she lucky she has been to cross paths with everyone in her story – online freaks, frauds, sweethearts and cons. And also creative drivers like Tarquin, Miller, Epstein and Pelz.

“It’s awesome that our big first opportunity with Date* was with Off-Center at the DCPA. That was so helpful for us,” she said. “We have survived and thrived, to a certain extent, because of that. None of this would have been possible without Off-Center.”

*Real Online Love Affairs (Off the Record)

Starring Luciann Lajoie
Curated by Off-Center @ The Jones
Co-created by Allison Horsely and Director Ashlee Temple
At the Avenue Theater, 417 E. 17th Ave.
Nov. 7-22, 2014
7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Tickets: $26.50 for adults; $23.50 for students and seniors.
Call 303-321-5925 or go to

Featured (videotaped) actors: Paul Blomquist, Gabriel Donaldson, Andrew Bueno, Edith Weiss, Chris Kendall, Jayce Smykil, Taurean Cavins-Flores, Brian Colonna, Patricia Dreier, Greg Nemer, Charley Cox, Erica Sarzin-Borrillo, Arthur Goodman, Patricia Goodman, Devon James, Karen Slack, Harlan Pelz, Erin Rollman, Emily Davies, John Fortmiller, Judy Phelan-Hill, Judy GeBauer, Hannah Duggan, Damon Guerrasio, Laura Lounge, Michael Collin

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