The opening show of Theatre Work's 28th season is John Shanahan's original comedy "Dinner for Several". All Carter Sullivan wanted to do was make dinner for a date. But before the night's out, the guest list will include her, her roommate, his own roommate, his ex-girlfriend, some guy he barely knows and the nice old Irish lady from downstairs. It is a menu filled with laughter, love and longing and more than a few secrets. A classic romantic comedy the show has been called "A thinking person's Friends". John's riotous and clever script will leave you rolling in the aisles with laughter and pondering the way life throws obstacles in your personal relationships. Director Ed Benjamin infuses the comic and heartwarming elements the show needs to keep the audience entertained all night long with his talented 7 member cast.
Ed played the role of Carter 6 years ago and knows the show inside and out. I reviewed John's one act plays a few years ago and he has an excellent eye for comic situations and funny one liners. Act 1 ends with two couples kissing, leaving the audience in suspense as to what will happen in the second act. The lovely set which is a bachelor pad is designed by Mark Anderson with costumes by Sharon Charette. The show has many twists and turns to it. Not wanting to give away too much of what happens, I'll give brief glimpses at the characters. Joshua Smith plays Carter. He is dynamic as the leading man who is thrown in the middle of this situation. Carter loves to cook and as his ex-girlfriend Liz says he goes into cooking mode, making pork tenderloin with caramelized shallots. Josh handles the comic moments with ease but his dramatic scene in the second sparkles when he chokes up and has tears in his eyes. Carter's ex-girlfriend, Liz is played by Brettny Nicole, a lovely strawberry blonde. Liz comes to visit to get her psychology books she left at Carters apartment but it turns out she wants to share some news of her recent relationship with him which we find out about later on. She delivers a heartwarming portrayal of this young woman reminiscent of Jennifer Aniston's character from "Friends". His pesky roommate, Jim is excellently played by Andrew Mattera. He has the funniest lines in the show and steals many scenes as this wild and crazy guy. Some of his funny lines include hating tipping, master basting, booty beeper, scouting dates and flinging his shoes off at his first entrance reminding you of Oscar from "Odd Couple". Andrew's facial expressions are hilarious and his story about his worst date is a hoot, too. Jim makes everyone play the game of their worst dates which each one topping the other as they progress.
Ashley Dougan, a pretty brunette, delivers another winning performance as Karen Johannsen. Karen brings a bottle of red wine on her date with Carter. She ends up talking to Liz about their past relationships and why they split up. She runs rough shod over her ex-boyfriend in a brilliant sequence that surprises the audience. Ashley also is topnotch with her comic lines. The most obnoxious character in the show is Paul Sorrenti, marvelously played by Brian Lopes who I last reviewed as Schroeder in "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown". He plays this cad like character who is constantly talking on his cell phone or answering his beeper. Paul has many women he strings along and is a chauvinist pig. He kisses a woman at the end of Act 1 which leads to some comic situations later on. Brian's funniest scene is when he gets stuck in the recliner and has to tumble out of the chair. (He is a perfect gentleman in real life and is currently dating Ashley.) Meredyth Waterman plays the sexy Celine who is afraid to commit to a relationship because her last boyfriend Kyle turned out to be gay. She despises Paul and lets him have it and has a very funny scene with Andrew in the second act. Lydia Mattera plays Irish neighbor, Mrs. McGonigle with her brogue. She teaches them lessons in love and brings a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream with her. Love is simple and explains in 42 years of marriage to John Patrick that were bumps along the way but true love should win the day. Does Mrs. McGonigle's advice work? What will happen does everyone get a happy ending? For answers to these questions you must go see this show. So for a look at an original show that will have you laughing and thinking all night long, be sure to catch "Dinner For Several".