*Who that indulges, I ask, can honestly deny they haven’t had one of those nights? You know the kind (wink. wink).
You stumble into the house, and all you can do is drop your hind-parts into the nearest chair. How on earth did you manage to turn the radio on? Force of habit, I guess.
You need some sounds to go with that spinning room, after all. But what’s that? The voice on the radio is giving orders: “Don’t touch that dial!” But your drunk yet prideful mind says ‘you’re not the boss of me’ and you gather up just enough adrenaline to stand up and do what…touch that dial!
“Inspired” by a final straw boot from Lorraine, his girlfriend of sixteen years, Nomax (Obba Babatunde) seems complacent to dissolve into a drunken stupor (“What’s the use of getting sober when you’re just gonna get drunk again?”); until Five Guys Named Moe suddenly appear in his living room by way of his radio (Think “Scrooge” and the three ghosts). Their purpose? To provide life lessons through song and stories that will motivate him to straighten up and fly right!
Clarke Peters has found a great way to honor the musical genius of innovative sax player and bandleader, Louis Jordan with the musical Five Guys Named Moe. Speaking briefly with him on opening night, I told him all of the performers seemed to genuinely be having so much fun. He smiled, and said it was so interesting that I’d said that. He told me Louis Jordan had once said, “No one will ever leave a show of mine without having had fun!”
This production commemorates the 25th anniversary of the show’s Broadway run. Jordan’s musicianship influenced the styles of jump-blues, R&B, and jazz during the 1930s through the early 1950s. He passed away in 1975, but some of the greatest hits he left behind are brought to life in Five Guys Named Moe by six energetic and talented performers.
Eat Moe (Eric B. Anthony), Little Moe (Trevon Davis), Four-Eyed Moe (Rogelio Douglas, Jr.), No Moe (Jacques C. Smith), and Big Moe (Octavius Womack) exude personality as the Five Moe’s who share the stage with the awesomeness of Babatunde. From the moment these guys surface, each distinct personality grabs you, and you never know when one of their life experiences will have them break out into songs that include “I Like ’em Fat Like That,” “Messy Bessy,” “Safe, Sane and Single,” ” “Push Ka Pi Shee Pie,” and “There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens,” and many more.
The exuberant ensemble of performers (hats off to dancers Eric B. Anthony and Rogelio Douglas, Jr.) are backed by an equally energetic band of musicians. The only gripe I have is that at times the band overpowers the actors, and there was difficulty hearing some of their lines.
Wren T. Brown, Producing Artistic Director at the Ebony Repertory Theatre, where the show is currently playing, saw the musical on Broadway in 1992 and said in a press statement, “I will never forget the sheer excitement I felt while sitting in the Eugene O’Neill Theatre…watching six wonderfully talented men and a most swinging band celebrate the music and persona of the seminal and pioneering saxophonist, singer and bandleader Louis Jordan.”
EURweb Digital Marketing executive LaRita Shelby also shared the same sentiment when we spoke in anticipation of the show heading to Los Angeles. Shelby,who saw the show when it was in London during its 1990-1995 run, said she sat “spellbound” during the entire production and couldn’t wait to see it again.
Keith Young makes his Los Angeles directorial debut with this production, which he also choreographed. Abdul Hamid Royal, who was the musical director in the original Broadway performance, returns to lead the band here.
Your suave costume designs really took us back to the era of “the gentlemen,” Naila Aladdin Sanders, very nice and creative scenic design, Edward E. Haynes, Jr., John Feinstein: your awesome sound design had us in motion on every note; and your intricate touches with lighting so nicely set the mood of each scene, Daniel Weingarten. Thank you!
Do yourself the greatest favor. You deserve a night out. Go see Five Guys Named Moe! Scroll down for ticket details.
Five Guys Named Moe plays now through June 11, 2017 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 West Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles. Performance schedule is Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Tickets range from $30 – $55 and are available online at ebonyrep.org or by phone at 323-964-9766. Groups of 10 or more are available via email at [email protected] or 323-964-9766.
About the writer:
DeBorah B. Pryor has been in entertainment journalism for more than 30 years. She has a B.A. in Drama from San Francisco State University, and is a former stage actor and 4-A union member. Contact her via email at [email protected] or follow her @bleedingheart1k and @pryor_deborah