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Paulanne Simmons

“Five Course Love” Is Delicious

FIRST COURSER LOVE -- Jeff Gurner, Heather Ayers and John Bolton. Photo by Richard Termine.

“Five Course Love”
Directed by Emma Griffin
Minetta Lave Theatre
18 Minetta Lave (off Sixth Ave.)
Mon, Tues, Thurs. Fri. at 8, Sat. at 3 & 8, Sun. at 3 & 7
$65, Ticketmaster.com or (212) 307-4100
Opened Oct. 16
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Oct. 15, 2005

The remarkable thing about “Five Course Love,” Gregg Coffin’s new musical comedy, which opened at the Minetta Lane Theatre on Oct. 16, is that no one ever eats. Instead the three-member cast – Heather Ayers as the femmes fatales, John Bolton as the male lovers and Jeff Gurner as the waiters – sing, dance, and fall in and out of love.

They do all of the above in five different ways – according to the type of restaurant in which they meet.

In Dean’s Old-Fashioned All-American Down-Home Bar-B-Que Texas Eats, the hapless Matt (in mismatched blues and a pocket protector) searches for love with a life-sized Barbie in a western outfit. Their brief, ill-fated romance takes place under the benevolent eye of the diminutive Dean, in a ten-gallon hat, and to the tune of country and western ballads.

In Trattoria Pericolo, Gino and Sofia have an adulterous tryst while Carlo, the waiter, watches nervously – all of them warbling a mixture of Italian opera, folk songs and popular music.

In Der Schlupfwinkel Speiseplatz, Klaus, Grechen and the waiter, Heimlich (complete with lederhosen and knee-high socks) create a unique love triangle and sing about their tragic lives in a repertoire that combines German cabaret and oom-pah music.

Ernesto’s Cantina is a send-up of Mexican music and themes; and The Star-Lite Diner features 1950s doo-wop and Bolton as a hip-swiveling Elvis impersonator.

Needless to say, there’s never a dull moment in Five Course Love.

Director Emma Griffin has added clever touches to an already abundantly clever script and score. Dean, at Texas Eats, wears pistol-shaped menus at his hips. The stage is framed by a medley of sparkling eating utensils (G.W. Mercier designed the excellent stage and costumes).

If great songs, off-the-wall scenarios and a cast of actors who shine in a variety of ethnic and personality types can make a hit, then this show is headed for the heights.

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