Scripps Ranch--- Three actors fifteen characters and one piano player are in a marathon race (about every 15 or so minutes) to put on five hilarious vignettes, all taking place at different restaurants and locales (Italy and Germany) and hoping to come out on stage with the right costumes, wigs (Mallory Devlin,) and accents for the restaurant locals. Even their own mother’s would be hard pressed to recognize them.
Director Joey Landwehr, director of ‘J’ Company who also acts as choreographer, comments in his director’s notes that “Our goal pure and simple, is to harken back to a time of fun and laughter; leave your worries outside. Scripps Ranch Theatre does that all for you through Feb. 23rd.
This two-act ( 90 minutes would serve this romp better) race to the top in Greg Coffin’s (book, music and lyrics) “Five Course Love” has Matthew Starkey, Samantha Wynn Greenstone, and Anthony Donovan playing all fifteen characters.
They not only sing and dance, change accents and costumes on a dime, are in every single scene playing a different character but they manage to do it all with a straight face, pizzazz and entertain at the same time. Some trick, that! Steven Withers musical director and keyboard extraordinaire bangs out all the non-stop music.
It starts off simple enough with Matthew headed off to meet a blind date and everything goes downhill from there. The five-courses dished out might not have enough nourishment to feed the soul, but lets indulge in it for the entertainment value. Here goes!
From ‘Deans Texas Barbeque’ where the all you can eat menu is in the shape of a six shooter and George Bushes’ poster is on the wall and our blind date gets it wrong, to La Trattoria Pericolo which is run by the mob and has a little shoot ‘um up business going on, to Der Schlupfwinkel Speisplatz where German sausage, Cabaret and dominatrix are high up on the menu, to Ernesto’s Cantina and ‘The Star-light Diner’, a 50’s diner where the story (and I use the word loosely) comes full circle and are all included in this five course love musical. Nothing a la carte here.
All I can say are the shticks and fetes they perform, most having to do with some sort of romance gone awry (that would be between Samantha or whoever she was in any particular location; Barbie, Sofia, Gretchen, Rosalinda or Kitty) and Starkey and one wait person running interference (that would be Donovan) are a laugh a minute. Over the top silly? Sure! But don’t underestimate the power of that silliness. Underneath it all are three very funny and talented actors.
All five scenarios or mini operettas consist of one protagonist, one antagonist and a waiter involved in some sorted romantic conflict. I can’t tell you which of the three is the funniest they all, at one time or another tickled my funny bone.
Samantha Wynn Greenstone works miracles with her fast character changes. Each one of her character is distinctive and demanding. She is a pretty talented gal and deserves kudos. Anthony Donovan, who is a two time 'Telly' Award winning writer/producer for his sketch comedy TV Show “Open House” and Matthew Starkey who opens the show has appeared at Scripps Theatre on three occasions; both men do yeoman’s work.
Coffin’s book, while slim in pickin’s from the buffet offered, makes up in the music department with a series of clever, sometimes catchy (but not memorable) tunes such as country western, opera, 50’s Doo-Wop and some tinges of rock in the offering. And while chuckles abound, some might find the piece offensive because of the blatant stereotypical and ethnic type casts and constant sexual overtones.
But if your preference is, as Landwehr emphasizes, “ To leave your worries outside” then be prepared to inhale some heavy duty Marshmallow Fluff on steroids.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through Feb. 23rd
Organization: Scripps Ranch Theatre
Production Type: Musical Comedy
Where: 10755-F-Scripps Poway Parkway, #187, 92131
Ticket Prices: From $28.00
Venue: Legler Benbough Theatre, Alliant University