This Friday, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts opens Five Course Love. Five Course Love, with music and lyrics by Gregg Coffin, takes you on a journey with five different couples having dinner in five different restaurants, served by five different waiters. The different characters are actually played by the same actors, giving a feeling of familiarity as the show goes on. As the scenes change, the musical styles morph to fit the cuisine in each restaurant. What this means for the performers is a marathon evening of singing and dancing, not to mention the frantic changes from one scene to the next. In the cast are Daniel Langhoff, Sarah Rex and Jordan Leigh.
Five Course Love is different from traditional musicals because it has a sketch or short vignette-based feel to it. Langhoff, who is experienced with the traditional musical format, also has some experience with sketch comedy, which may help him make this transition. According to Langhoff, he’s been “lucky in that I’ve worked in quite a few shows in which I have to play multiple characters and different styles before. It’s a fun challenge to receive. I believe the most characters I’ve played in one show was 9, and it was actually a drama.”
A Denver area favorite, after graduating in 1999 from UNC in Greeley in Vocal Performance, Langhoff has been performing in venues all over Denver ever since. He has performed with professional and award-winning companies (Miners Alley, Town Hall Arts Center, Next Stage Denver and the Arvada Center) in Denver for years, but Five Course Love marks his first time performing as a full-fledged Actors Equity Association (AEA) member. Langhoff acknowledged that getting union status in Denver is “a big change.” Local performers will sometimes squabble about whether Equity status is a benefit or a hinderance in Denver (Equity members are paid more when they do get hired, but non-Equity companies are restricted in their ability to hire Equity members). Langhoff admitted that there are both pros and cons.”There are fewer companies in Denver that can hire Equity actors than in other cities, but the quality of experience can be richer with those companies as their limitations are fewer. The theatre arts have a universe of creative possibilities with or without money, job security, or unions. I’m doing this for a living, so it’s a good step for me personally in that endeavor.”
The cabaret setting of the Galleria theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (where Five Course Love opens this week) is sure to make the audience feel like part of the action. The intimate environment also presents considerable challenges and benefits compared to a typical precenium stage. The audience is closer, expects to be more involved, and will be sipping on cocktails for the duration of the performance. “A smaller setting allows a different connection with the audience, as well as giving the performers and designers the chance (and challenge) of working with options more based in subtlety than they’d find in a larger space,”says Langhoff.
Ultimately Five Course Love should be an entertaining and touching piece of theatre, and audience members should leave with a smile on their face. In addition to the entertainment value, Langhoff hopes that a deeper message about love will be conveyed. “I hope the audience leaves feeling happy from the laughs, touched by the sweet, quiet moments, and hopeful about their own loves in life.”
Five Course Love runs February 25 – June 19 in the Garner Galleria Theatre at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Click the banner below for tickets and more information.