'Five Course Love' Comes To The Minetta Lane

Five dates. Five restaurants. One chance at love. Five Course Love is a new musical that is equal parts comedy and music with heaping portions of that elusive search for love thrown in for good measure. Three actors portray fifteen characters whose amorous combinations are played out in this high-energy screwball comedy using an array of musical styles. Gregg Coffin's music ingeniously ranges from pop to country & western to a spoof of German cabaret to 1950's doo-wop to Italianate opera riffs to Motown and more. 

Inspired by his love for early TV sketch comedy, Shakespearean clowns, early stand-up, and character actors, Coffin says, "I wrote this as an homage to character actors.  I wanted to watch what would happen if the comics took over the stage and sang and laughed about love."

Geva Theatre Center (Mark Cuddy, Artistic Director) and Five Course Love Company LLC will present the lip-smacking new musical comedy Five Course Love with Book, Music & Lyrics by Gregg Coffin at the Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane (between Sixth Avenue and MacDougal Street).   Following sold-out runs at Geva Theatre Center (Rochester, NY) and Sacramento Theatre Company (Sacramento, CA), Five Course Love makes its New York premiere with the original cast and director.  Under the direction of Salt Theatre Artistic Director Emma Griffin with choreography by Mindy Cooper (Dracula), the three member cast features Heather Ayers (Forbidden Broadway, Pardon My English), John Bolton (Spamalot, Contact, Titanic) and Jeff Gurner (The Lion King).  Preview performances begin Saturday evening, October 1st at 8:00PM with an Opening Night on Sunday evening, October 16th at 7:00PM.

The creative team for Five Course Love includes G.W. Mercier (sets & costumes), Mark Barton (lighting), Rob Kaplowitz (sound) and Marge Betley (dramaturg).  Musical director is Fred Tessler.

Five Course Love received very enthusiastic receptions for its Rochester and Sacramento productions.  The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle said that composer Gregg Coffin "has a mastery of music in many styles" and "his wickedly funny lyrics are clever, raunchy, silly and sweet."  While the Rochester City News opined that the show is "a compositional tour-de-force of clever writing" with "dream roles for three actors."  And, the Sacramento Bee claimed that this "inspired new comic musical is laugh-out loud."

Five Course Love begins performances on Saturday, October 1, 2005.  Opening Night is Sunday Evening, October 16 at 7:00PM.  The performance schedule is Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays & Fridays at 8:00PM, Saturdays at 3:00PM & 8:00PM and Sundays at 3:00PM & 7:00PM.  There are no Wednesday performances.  Tickets are priced at $65 and may be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com or by calling (212) 307-4100.   Rush tickets ($25) are available at the box office day of performance.   For group sales, call (212) 889-4300.

Cast and Creative Bios
Gregg Coffin (Book, Music, Lyrics) has contributed the incidental music to over 50 productions in regional theatres throughout the US and Canada including Geva Theatre Center, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, Sacramento Theatre Company, California Shakespeare Festival, Georgia Shakespeare Festival; and in Canada at The Stratford Festival of Canada, The National Arts Centre, Theatre New Brunswick, CanStage, and The Tarragon Theatre (where his incidental score for SLAVS! won the 2001 Dora Award). Gregg's first musical, CONVENIENCE was premiered at Geva Theatre Center, showcased at The Duke on 42nd Street, and has enjoyed numerous regional productions and a cast album. He lives with his partner, Joe Zaniker, a painter and print consultant.   Gregg received his BA from Oberlin College and his MFA from Southern Methodist University. 

Emma Griffin (Director) is Artistic Director of the OBIE-award winning NYC Salt Theater; highlights include Zippo Songs, Stage Door (FringeNYC Excellence Award as Best Director) and Inky (world premiere).  She has directed for numerous other New York companies including Target Margin Theater, Clubbed Thumb, New Georges and Tiny Mythic/HERE.  Recent regional work includes: the world premiere of Five Course Love and House and Garden (Associate Director with Mark Cuddy) at the Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, Bat Boy the Musical at Southern Rep in New Orleans (winner of the 2003 Big Easy Entertainment Award Best Director of a Musical), Gypsy at Actor's Express in Atlanta, Private Lives and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Virginia Stage and Gertrude Stein's The Mother of Us All at the Williamstown Theater Festival. Her production of Caryl Churchill's The Skriker was invited to The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC as part of ACTF.  She is currently Adjunct Faculty at New York University, where she teaches directing.

Mindy Cooper (Choreographer) maintains an active career as both a director/choreographer and performer. She most recently choreographed Frank Wildhorn's Dracula: The Musical on Broadway. Other work includes the National Tour of Titanic, the musical staging for Broadway's Wrong Mountain at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre, The New Bozena at the Hudson Theater in Los Angeles and Heart & Soul in St. Petersburg, Russia. She recently directed and choreographed the world premiere of Fair Liberty's Call.    Regionally she has choreographed Chicago, The Secret Annex, Shenandoah, Jesus Christ Superstar, numerous benefits, commercials and industrials, as well as the television series "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."

Heather Ayers (Barbie/Sofia/Gretchen/Rosalinda/Kitty) has appeared in two Encores! productions for City Center: Pardon My English (directed by Gary Griffin) and Bye Bye Birdie (directed by Jerry Zaks) and Off Broadway in Forbidden Broadway, the workshops of Barry Manilow's Harmony and Elton John's The Vampire Lestat. She has performed leading roles at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Dallas Theatre Center, Missouri Repertory, Arkansas Repertory and Florida Stage.

John Bolton (Matt/Gino/Klaus/Guillermo/Clutch) currently covers the three leads in the Broadway production of Spamalot.  Other Broadway credits include Contact, Titanic, Damn Yankees, How To Succeed… . and the concert stagings of Funny Girl and Dreamgirls.  Off-Broadway he has appeared at The Public, Manhattan Theatre Club, Playwrights Horizons, Drama Dept., Riverside Shakespeare, Roundabout and Lincoln Center.  National tours include the 20th Anniversary Production of Annie and the European tour of Oklahoma!.  Regionally he appeared at Paper Mill Playhouse, The Old Globe, the MUNY, Arizona Light Opera and many others.   TV credits include "Ed," "As the World Turns," "Guiding Light," "All My Children," "Rosie O'Donnell" and "The Late Show."  

Jeff Gurner (Waiter) created the title role in the American premiere of A Prayer for Owen Meany at Playmakers Rep. On Broadway he appeared in The Lion King.  Off Broadway credits include The London Cuckolds and The Man of Destiny at Protean Theatre Company, The Water Coolers at Dillon's, Harrigan & Hart at The York Theatre, The Normal Heart at Clark Studio Theatre at Lincoln Center and The Comedy of Errors at DBTC.   Regionally he has appeared in Silver Dollar at Goodspeed Opera House, Brimstone at The Berkshire Theatre Festival, Pump Boys & Dinettes at Cherry County Playhouse, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story at Ordway Music Theatre and Henry V at Los Angeles Classic Rep. Film credits include Amy's Rules, A Bedtime Story and The Field Guide to White People.   He currently plays bass for the infamous NYC-based punk/pop band Lisa Jackson & Girl Friday and is a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts.

G.W. Mercier (Set & Costume Design)  Broadway: Juan Darien: A Carnival Mass by Julie Taymor and Elliot Goldenthal at the Vivian Beaumont (Tony® and two Drama Desk Nominations).  Off-Broadway, at the Vineyard Theater, Dream True by Tina Landau and Ricky Ian Gordon and Bed and Sofa by Polly Penn and Lawrence Klavan, procured him two additional Drama Desk nominations.  Premier musicals include: Miracle Brothers by Kristen Childs; People Are Wrong by Julia Greenberg & Robin Goldwasser; Eli's Comin' by Bruce Buschell and Diane Paulus; and Wilder by Mike Craver, Jack Herrick & Erin Cressida Wilson.  Since completing his training at Yale, over 340 of his designs for theatre, musical theatre, opera, dance, film and television have been realized and he has received numerous awards.  He is honored to work with exceptional writers, composers, directors, actors, and fellow designers.  Mr. Mercier wrote and directed FLOCK, a music theatre work at Dell'Arte International in California, which will arrive in NY soon.

Mark Barton (Lighting Design) designed the lighting for the hit Off Broadway show Thom Pain (based on nothing).  Other NY credits include Valparaiso, 100 Aspects of the Moon, Conquest of the Universe, ZippoSongs, The Cherry Orchard, and Stage Door, among many others.  He has worked extensively with the Salt Theater, Target Margin Theater, Elevator Repair Service, Edge Theater, Rude Mechanicals, Clubbed Thumb, PS122, New Georges, and HERE Arts Center.  Regionally he has worked with Syracuse Stage, Virginia Stage, and  Southern Rep and with lighting choreographers Johannes Wieland, Laura Peterson & Katherine Profeta, among others.

Rob Kaplowitz (Sound Design)  As a designer and composer, Robert has created the sonic landscapes for hundreds of plays.  Credits include: Heather McDonald's An Almost Holy Picture (Roundabout/Broadway); Tracy Scott Wilson's The Story (Public, Long Wharf, Lortel Nomination); Neal LaBute's Fat Pig and The Distance From Here (MCC), Kia Corthron's Light, Raise the Roof (NYTW); William Hamilton's White Chocolate (Culture Project); Emily Mann's Meshugah  (Naked Angels); the Mabou Mines Residency of Request Concert with Joanna P. Adler; Yasmeen Godder's dance Hall (Kitchen, International); Jose Cruz Gonalez' September Shoes (Geva); The Antigone Project (Women's Project) and Charles Mee's True Love (Zipper).  Musical credits include the ill-fated imPerfect Chemistry at the Minetta Lane, the National Tours of Promises, Promises and Leader of the Pack, The Pure Gospel series (John Housman), and  I Will Come Back (Player's Theatre). He was the first professional sound designer at the Eugene O'Neill Playwrights Conference, (2000-2004) is the Producing Artistic Director for the Relentless Theatre Company, and dedicates his work to KMO.

Fred Tessler (Musical Director) New York: Music Director ENCORES! Series Educational Program (1997-2000); Nude With Violin (The Acting Company); Hell In A Handbasket (Gene Frankel Theatre) The Gifts Of The Magi, Harbours Of The Heart (Snug Harbour Theatre); Know'm Sayin', It Happens Every Day (Roundabout Theatre Company/Town Hall); Happy End (Columbia University); As It Is In Heaven, Threepenny Opera (Brooklyn College); The Wiz, Cabaret, Bye, Bye Birdie (Wagner College - Adjunct Professor).  Regional: The Bourgeois Gentleman, Yang Zen Froggs (Theatre de la Jeune Lune); Don Juan Giovanni (Berkeley Repertory Theatre - Arranger/Music Director); 12 seasons Resident Music Director Hope Summer Repertory Theatre. Pianist for Royal Shakespeare Company's national tour of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Geva Theatre CENTER (Producer) is led by Artistic Director Mark Cuddy, who together with Managing Director John Quinlivan and Executive Director Nan Hildebrandt, is proud that Geva Theatre Center is the most attended regional theatre in New York State. Founded in 1972, Geva's 552-seat Mainstage offers a wide variety of shows, from musicals to new plays to reinvigorated American and world classics. The 180-seat Nextstage features fresh Contemporary Theatre and is home to Geva Comedy Improv and Big Theatre for Little People (for audiences in grades K-8).  The creation, development and production of new plays and musicals for the American theatre is an essential element of Geva Theatre Center's mission, and the company has a strong track record of nurturing new works and the artists who create them. Over the last decade, Geva has commissioned work from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, John Belluso, Gregg Coffin, Rickerby Hinds, Naomi Iizuka, Julie Jensen, Bob Devin Jones, Julia Jordan, Carter W. Lewis, Michele Lowe, Kira Obolensky and Dan O'Brien. Geva has developed dozens of plays in its Hibernatus Interruptus Festival of New Plays and American Voices New Play Reading Series, almost all of which have gone on to full production at Geva or other theatres around the country. Under the artistic direction of Mark Cuddy, Geva has produced nine world premieres and one American premiere since 1997 (most of which have come through Geva's development programs), with four more in the 2005/06 season, including Marc Wolf's The Road Home: Re-membering America (co-production with the Huntington Theatre), A Marvelous Party - The Noel Coward Celebration, James Still's Iron Kisses and Jamie Pachino's Splitting Infinity.

FIVE COURSE LOVE COMPANY, LLC (Producer) is a limited liability company set-up by Rochester investors exclusively to produce Five Course Love off-Broadway. They are proud to have raised nearly the entire capitalization from Rochester as a tribute to their ongoing commitment to Geva Theatre Center and Gregg Coffin.

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