Five Course Love The holidays may bring out the best in human beings, but most theaters don't fare so well. Most December shows are as bland as a plate full of sugar cookies. Case in point: Stages Repertory Theatre's production of Five Course Love, a sketch comedy set to music by Gregg Coffin. In the silly show, five couples (plus a sidekick), all played by the same actors, look for love in all the wrong places. There is nothing particularly inventive or fresh in this story, and it's hard to stay engaged in this material all the way through two acts. To make matters worse, some of the music is downright goofy. Tunes like "I Loved You When I Thought Your Name Was Ken" and "Risk Love," sung in part by a man dressed in leather lederhosen, take up an awful lot of time considering their tissue-paper weight. There are some good things about this production, and those include the three performers, who sing their hearts out trying to make this evening worth the price of a ticket. Haley Dyes (a newcomer who deserves a much better debut at Stages), Thomas Prior and John M. Whalin all sing beautifully. But taken altogether, these five courses won't do much to fill anyone up. Through December 31. 3201 Allen Parkway, 713-527-0123.
The Great American Trailer Park Musical This frothy bubble of silliness now running at Stages Repertory Theatre requires absolutely zero brain power to get through. Cobbled together out of stereotypes and a sitcom-like plot, the featherweight bit of camp by David Nehls and Betsy Kelso celebrates white-trash ladies and the men they love in a funky little tale about a phobic housewife and her lonely-heart man. Setting the stage and guiding us through the story is a chorus of three women: Betty (Susan O. Koozin), a sturdy mother hen with a heart of gold who runs the whole shebang; Pickles (Mikah Horn), a young dumb-as-dirt, sweet-as-sugar blond who shows all the signs of suffering from a hysterical pregnancy; and Lin (Carolyn Johnson), strutting around with her cleavage out to there and worrying all the while about her man on death row. This cartoon strip of a story focuses on Norbert and Jeannie Garstecki, a long-married couple who love each other despite the fact that Jeannie (Melodie Smith) suffers from agoraphobia and hasn't set foot outside her little trailer home in years. Nothing in the story is surprising, but the music is entertaining, and Stages has put together a cast of solid singers who capture their characters in bold, broad and colorful strokes. Through December 31. 3201 Allen Parkway, 713-527-0123.