Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires
Five Guys Named Moe
Such songs as "Is You Is or Is You Ain't Ma' Baby?" and "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" are vibrantly performed and there are moments where the audience is invited to take part in the merriment onstage. Five Guys Named Moe runs roughly two hours, with a fifteen-minute intermission, and it is highly recommended that you head to Playhouse on Park to experience the cheer and happiness this production has in abundance.
The plot is simple and mostly an excuse for the cast to perform the wonderful Louis Jordan songs. At his apartment in Harlem, Nomax is having girlfriend trouble and is drowning his sorrows in alcohol, as well as singing the song, "Early in the Morning." Coming to his rescue is the group of five singers, all named Moe, who take the stage to both cheer him up and straighten out his life. Each performer is unique, with his own individual talents, and, together, they harmonize beautifully. Each singer also gets at least one solo moment to shine.
After the five men do a great job singing the title number together, the character of Big Moe (Darren Lorenzo) superbly sings "Beware Brother Beware," and then, in the second act, has fun with "What's the Use of Getting Sober." There is also Little Moe (the adorable Devin Price), who delivers the funny "I Like 'Em Fat Like That" and also leads the second act opener, "Saturday Night Fish Fry." No Moe (Josh Walker), the most stylish man onstage, brings down the house with "Messy Bessy," and then there is Four-Eyed Moe (the endearing Jacquez Linder-Long) who shines on "I Know What I've Got." Not to be forgotten is Eat Moe (Arnold Harper), who nearly steals the show with a hilarious rendition of "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" before switching gears for a soulful performance of "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying,"
Director/Choreographer Brittney Griffin has done a superb job of keeping "Five Guys Named Moe" a delightful good time from start to finish. Griffin's choreography for such numbers as "Life Is So Peculiar" and the explosive first act finale "Push Ka Pi Shi Pie" is particularly fantastic. But there is rarely a wrong move in this production of Five Guys Named Moe and the director also works wonders with all her designers, including the gifted costumer designer Vilinda McGregor and scenic designer James F. Rotondo III, who provides the perfect setting for all these great performances and terrific songs.
The onstage band, led by music director Dexter Pettaway, Sr., is pretty fabulous and the lighting design by Marcella Barbeau is just perfect. Also worthy of mention is Robert James Tomasulo, who is the excellent vocal director for the show.
Five Guys Named Moe is a production where all the elements come together ideally and there are even a couple of audience participation numbers, which are a blast, as well. This Five Guys Named Moe is guaranteed to lift your spirits and make you feel like dancing.
Five Guys Named Moe runs through February 27, 2022, at Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Rd, West Hartford CT. For tickets and information, please visit www.playhouseonpark.org.