Love and food are the perfect ingredients for a memorable date with the one you love, or love at the moment.  In the course of 90 minutes, which flies by, actors Christopher Carothers, Jennifer Shelton and Perry Lambert each play five different characters having dinner in various restaurants.


In this quick paced musical, Carothers and Shelton are the duo trying to enjoy dinner but always get interrupted while Lambert is the helpful waiter who automatically says "trouble in the kitchen" when the sound of crashing dishes is heard from the dining room. The atmosphere is a perfect set thanks to the good eye of set designer Daniel L. Wheeler and Jeremy Pivnick the lighting designer. The stage resembles the inside of a cotton candy factory. An abundance of pink and red roses, gold plated cupids aiming their deadly amorous arrows, and right in the center two huge half hearts with a plate and utensils placed strategically in the middle. 

Lambert blesses the new love between Carothers and Shelton

Wheeler went all out with the hearts found everywhere, twin graffiti walls with the named of lovers and ex-lovers crossed over with new news in their place. Pivnick's romantic lighting shone beautifully on Wheeler's work. The lighting captured the funny, sweet side of romance, bringing out hope to the ones in love and the ones who want to be in love. Carothers and Shelton make the ideal couple going through the many phases in a relationship. Carothers takes on a nerdy, pocket protector alter ego of Matt in "Dean's Old-Fashioned All American Down-Home BAR-B-QUE Texas Eats" while waiting on the seductive Rosebud (Shelton) his blind date courtesy of a dating service. Rosebud looked like she could but the fear of God in Matt and he would welcomed it whole-heartedly. At the end, the date is a bust and that's Dean's cue (Lambert) to console Matt and tell him to mosey on out.

Lambert takes on the role of advisor and confidante throughout the rest of vignettes. As the bumbling Percy, the sidekick to Guillermo's Zorro-type hero in "Ernesto's Cantina," he proudly announces his love to Rosalinda (the wonderful Shelton again) in front of Guillermo. It's hard to take the hero seriously when he's riding on a wooden pony as if it were a physically powerful stallion. This time, Percy takes his own advice to move forward. A stand out favorite was the restaurant scene in the German themed "Der Schlupfwinkel Speiseplatz, don't bother looking for a phonetic explanation because I will not provide one. While the remaining stories are tame, Speiseplatz provides the raciness it needs.

Lambert caught between his two lovers.

Once again, Lambert is the waiter Heimlich channeling Joel Grey's weird Emcee character in the Tony Award winning musical Cabaret. It's only in this story that Lambert is given the opportunity to be more in the forefront and forgo acting like a pal. Shelton is mesmeric as the dominatrix blonde diva Gretchen. Looking like a goddess who should be feared and worshiped, Gretchen stomps out with kick ass tie-up black boots, fishnet stockings and a dangerously sexy bustier She waves her kitty whip with assertion making us think twice about messing with her. The woman is fierce.

Pops looks on as a clueless Clutch (Carothers) dismisses Kitty as his secret admirer.


Shelton stole the scene in every episode. Her quick change artistry from Rosebud the Texan gal, to Sofia the woman done wrong in "Trattoria Pericolo" and as the sweet girl Kitty jonesing for her crush in the 1950s style ‘The Star-Lite Diner.' Shelton also changes the personalities to fit her character at the moment. She perfected a flawless German accent for Gretchen, Sofia the Bronx babe in "Trattoria Pericolo" and Spanish beauty Rosalinda torn between two suitors.

Her energy and enthusiasm were infectious and her signing voice is the type that wins awards. God bless her ability to sing upside down and not miss a beat while being held by the men in "Speiseplatz. Composer and writer Gregg Coffin wrote the perfect antidote to love-gone-wrong syndrome. He showed that love will always have its exhilarating peaks and rock bottom moments for everyone. Love isn't all that bad. It can also be comical and insightful when set to great music.

Sofia gets caught up in a love triangle.

Five Course Love plays at Long Beach Performing Arts Center inside the International City Theatre, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. until Sunday, July 15.  For tickets call (562) 436-4610 or reserve online at www.ictlongbeach.org


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