July 14 2010 12:00 AM

Williamston Theatre has an appetite for musical comedy


“It’s heaven when you find romance on your menu,” Dinah Washington declared in her 1959 hit, “What a Difference a Day Makes.”

While that song isn’t included in the Williamston Theatre’s “Five Course Love,” Gregg Coffin’s script expresses similar sentiments as it showcases a quintet of miniature musical comedies, each set in a different restaurant/bistro/café/cantina/trattoria.

Actors Matthew Gwynn, Aaron Moore and Laura Croff take on multiple roles as “Love” takes us from Dean’s Old-Fashioned All-American Down-Home Bar-B-Que Texas Eats to a pasta palace to a 1950sstyle hamburger heaven that might have once be a gathering place for the “Grease” gang. In each establishment, there’s tension in the air: a lonely single guy anxiously awaiting a blind date; a pompous German maitre d’ confronting his “secret girlfriend”; a cheating Noo Joisey wife torn between two lovers; a Mexican outlaw forcing everyone around him to sing his praises, even though he seems about as malevolent as the Frito Bandito.

“Love” is directed by Tom Woldt, with musical direction by Jeff English.

“If you’ve been here before, you probably realize we don’t do a lot of musicals,” Williamston executive director John Lepard writes in his program notes. “Logistically, I don’t think ‘Oklahoma’ would fit on our stage, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t try it at some point. ‘Five Course Love’ was chosen because of its fun theme, because it’s a new play for Mid-Michigan, and because we do like to put musicals on our stage when we can.”

The Williamston Theatre crew is also offering a few audience members the chance to truly immerse themselves in “Five Course Love”: Four seats are available on the stage itself for anyone interested in being a “customer.” No actual participation is required — yes, the performers will occasionally sing to you — and, although a new menu is handed out during each scene change, there’s no chance to place an order.

This may be theater about dinner, but it’s not exactly dinner theater.

‘Five Course Love’

Theatre 122 S. Putnam Road, Williamston 8 p.m. Thursday, July 15
(preview performance; all seats $15) 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays; 3
p.m. and 8 p.m.

2 p.m. Sundays Friday, July 16 through Aug. 15 $24 Friday and Saturday
evenings; $20 weekend matinees; $18 Thursdays (517) 655-SHOW www.williamstontheatre.org