Review: Five Course Love at Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte
Posted on 25 Jun 2010 by Mitch Metz
As the sun continues to punish Charlotte with it’s relentless rays of unbearable heat, isn’t it nice to hear of a way to spend the evening out, somewhere cool and entertaining? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the laugh a minute Five Course Love.
Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte is a character-rich locale just off 277 on Stonewall. Easy to find (it’s even listed in your GPS), free parking, and on a muggy night in the Queen City, just as entertaining as the big boys.
Five Course Love takes us on a journey through 5 restaurants, each uniquely informal. From a typical barbecue shack to a Mexican cantina and beyond, 3 actors sing and dance through their 15 different personas with contagious energy and style.
Writer Gregg Coffin has blessed us with an upbeat, peppy spectacle that is most certainly, a full blown musical. I was amazed how the music really is the show. I had anticipated yet another story with a song or two thrown in for fun. Instead, we receive voices, choreography, acting and humor. The writing itself is the true star in Five Course Love. While not the most cerebral of humor, the silliness stands on it’s own, and is not just something Mr. Coffin had to throw in, because he couldn’t think of anything witty to say. The script works, and works well. The audience hangs on every whimsical word.
For those of you old enough to remember, this production has the feel of an old Carol Burnett sketch. I couldn’t help but think of Davidson graduate Maret Decker Seitz as a young Carol, with a powerful voice, outstanding comedic timing, and a knack for slapstick. Maret showed astonishing versatility as Barbie (the fun loving Texan), Sophia (right out of Jersey), and my personal favorite Gretchen (complete with boots and riding crop). There are more characters, but I never got past the boots… oh my!
Flanking Maret’s side are Jon Parker Douglas and Joe Klosek. As Harvey Korman and Tim Conway were equals on the stage with Carol Burnett, Jon and Joe are stars as well. The teamwork and camaraderie these three share is more than just a job, or a show. These people are friends, and allow us to be a part of it. Sure, the accents tend to drift, props play a huge role, and sometimes we’re laughing at them rather than with them, but it’s a comedy. As long as we’re laughing, they’re doing an awesome job!
Jon didn’t seem very comfortable in the opening scenes as buckaroo waiter Dean, nor as mobster Gino, but that quickly changed. His energy soared as Klaus, the bondage loving partner of both Gretchen and Heimlich (cough). Watching Jon in the show’s finale was a riot, and alone, worth the price of admission.
Joe is the better actor of the three, and his vast experience shines through every time he takes the stage. His portrayal of almost-but-not-quite-Third-Reich-loving Heimlich (cough) is a comedic memory I will have stuck in my head for a long, long time. At one point, during a mostly staged mustache malfunction as Carlo the non-informant waiter, Joe was just about to crack himself up, and Maret was close behind.
Also, I also had no clue I was in for such a choreographic treat! Christy Edney surprised me with not just basic steps, but actual dance and a professional flow from curtain to curtain (well, there are no curtains… you know what I mean). With so many local productions failing to move their actors around the stage, I was thrilled with this performance. The hard work by everyone on and off stage really comes through.
On the way out, I found myself checking my schedule to see if I have a free night to come back and see it again. If that’s not the Mitch Metz stamp of approval, I don’t know what is. Five Course Love is an upbeat musical comedy with great actors, a solid script, and a boatload of laughs. Come on out to Actor’s Theater of Charlotte before this gem closes July 3rd. You will absolutely love it.