Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Broward Stage Door: Five Guys Named Moe (reviews)

5 guysBroward Stage Door opened its production of Five Guys Named Moe on December 10, 2014.
His woman left him, he's broke, and it's almost five o'clock in the morning. But don't worry…out of his 1930's radio pop "Five Guys Named Moe" who cajole, wheedle, comfort, and jazz him with the songs of Louis Jordan, one of the most beloved songwriters of the 20th Century. In their multi colored zoot suits, the Five Guys harmonize, croon, wail, tap, and joke their way into the hearts of the audience. Irresistible!
Christopher George Patterson directed a cast that featured himself, Brandon Hanks, Philip Bolton, Micah Jeremiah Mims,  Daryl L. Stewart, and Don Seward.
Michelle F. Solomon reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Jukebox musicals many times find a flimsy storyline as a way to hang curtains on a repertoire of music. And so it is with Five Guys Named Moe at Broward Stage Door Theatre, a paean to Louis Jordan, a 1940s rhythm and blues man who, as a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, is known as the Grandfather of Rock ‘N Roll.  Yet Jordan isn’t really the household name he should be. He was creating music at the same time as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby, and people like Chuck Berry and Ray Charles have said that their music was profoundly influenced by Jordan.
The five guys named Moe… are a mega-watt of ensemble energy. Michael Larsen, the musical director, who is also pianist in the three-piece band that’s situated above the set upstage, really delivers the jumpin’ jive that’s essential to Jordan’s music.
But what will keep the folks who are the Broward Stage Door’s target audience – mostly subscribers — jumpin’ are the way the five Moes have created characters that are bigger than life with each performer bringing something truly unique to bolster their Moe’s personality.
Bolton as Big Moe becomes Nomax’s voice of reason, calling out Nomax’s love of Jim Beam in What’s the Use of Getting Sober. He’s also the “guy’s guy” when he sings Beware, Brother, Beware, a warning story about the wily ways of women, and the handsome Bolton is a real crowd pleaser in the audience interactive and recognizable Jordan tune, Caldonia.
Seward’s Eat Moe is a guy with a big voice and an even bigger stomach. His love song to a chocolate cake in Knock Me a Kiss could satisfy any hunger, yet he really shows his range in the popular ballad Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying.
Charged with some of the more comical numbers are Stewart as Little Moe… Mims as Four-Eyed Moe creates a cartoonish “Moesterpiece Theater” story with his high falsetto as the lead chicken in There Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens.
Hanks as Nomax probably has the toughest role as he needs to bring some dramatic edge to this down-in-the-dumps, close-to-suicide sad sack. He’s up for the task and is able to keep up with the theatrics of the five guys and the character’s own inner struggles.
The ensemble didn’t miss a beat despite some unfortunate technical problems with their headset microphones... Unfortunate because the extra complication made some of the staging look awkward when the hand-held had to be brought in to play…. But the crew and the ensemble’s smooth handling of the situation only made it noticeable to someone paying attention
…this production of Five Guys Named Moe is an energetic romp with some of the most energized performers to burn up the floorboards at Broward Stage Door. The joint is most definitely jumpin’.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
’Tis the season, apparently, for the exuberant 1990 musical revue Five Guys Named Moe. Miami’s M Ensemble did the show at Thanksgiving, and now Stage Door Theatre in Coral Springs has opened its own holiday production, slated to run through mid-January. Comparisons may be odious, but they’re hard to avoid when a show gets two different productions in the same region in under a month.
In addition to the music.. (and) the script by creator Clarke Peters, the new Five Guys has one other thing in common with M Ensemble’s version: Actor-singer-dancer Don Seward is again playing Eat Moe, a guy whose haunting Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying is again a highlight of the show.
Staged in a much more intimate space, the new Five Guys Named Moe treats the lovelorn Nomax (Brandon Hanks) as a financially strapped contemporary guy with booze and lady issues... Hanks has a rich, alluring voice, and along the way delivers appealing renditions of I Know What I’ve Got and If I Had Any Sense I’d Go Back Home.
Director and choreographer Christopher George Patterson plays No Moe, a smiling spark plug of a guy whose fast-and-furious tap dancing is one of the show’s artistic engines.
Phillip Bolton… sings the cautionary Beware, Brother, Beware, a melancholy What’s the Use of Getting Sober and the rousing audience participation number Caldonia. …Michah Jeremiah Mims, whose Four-Eyed Moe has a tendency to lose his glasses, sings a moody Azure Te and Look Out, Sister.
As Little Moe, a dynamo in blue, Daryl Stewart declares his preference for larger ladies when he sings I Like ’em Fat Like That, then keeps the party going with Saturday Night Fish Fry and Choo Choo Ch’boogie.
The relatively modest production delivers its quota of novelty numbers and precursor-to-rock songs, creative close-quarters choreography and the sweat that lets you know just how hard the engaging cast is working to entertain you.
Beverly Friend reviewed for Chicago Critic:
If three supernatural visitors can turn a man’s life around — as do the visions of Christmas Past, Present, and Future for Ebenezer Scrooge — how much more effective would five magical visitors be? The splendid answer lies in Five Guys Named Moe
Where to begin praising? Patterson’s choreography is amazing and ever varied, including a calypso number complete with human limbo pole. Michael McCain’s set design is clever and effective, incorporating a city sky line as the back drop of Nomax’s dreary apartment, where a three piece band (Michael Larson on piano, Jeff Renza on drums, and Martha Spangler on bass) plays from the rooftop among the spires. Kudos to costume designer Peter Lovello for the vivid shirts, vests and trousers the quintet sports. And what an ensemble — talented on every level: fine voices, skilled dance routines (including tap), sensitive portrayals (especially true of Hanks who must run the gamut from despair to redemption), and great timing.
While Act I takes place entirely in the apartment, in the second act, the back wall opens to reveal a night club, the five Moe’s don white jackets and morph into headliners reminiscent of and as skilled as their most famous counterparts: the Jackson Five? the Ink Spots? the Temptations? the Flamingos? — you name it!
The Broward Stage Door production of Five Guys Named Moe plays through January 18, 2015.

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