Marble Arch Theatre, London
Music and lyrics by Louis Jourdan
Book by Clarke Peters
Directed by Clarke Peters
In what is so much more than just a show, Five Guys Named Moe is a flawless spectacle that enlightens and thrills. Created thirty years ago by Clarke Peters and swiftly transferring from the Theatre Royal Stratford East across town to the West End and then to Broadway, it is a delight to see the show return to London. where it simply outclasses many of today's long running musicals.
The story is uncomplicated. Nomax, a recent heartbreak-ee, returns home in a drunken stupor and is visited by five ghostly jazz spectre’s, who attempt to show him the error of his ways and convince him that he can change and win back the love of his life not just through their advice, but most importantly, through the words and melodies of jazz legend, Louis Jordan.
The pop-up Marble Arch venue is a new take on theatre production in Britain. In what is so much more than just an evening at a show, under takis’ ingenious designs the Spiegel tent is kitted out as an immensely detailed New Orleans Mardi Gras-esque street party. Musicians and understudies, atop a band stand, perform jazz classics before and after the show as well as during the interval, that keep the vibe and theme of the show alive throughout the entire evening.
The energy that the six strong cast then bring to the stage is enthralling. There is not a single dip in the vibrancy of the performance and the charisma and charm brought to the numbers is magnetic. This is, quite simply, a feel good show that keeps on giving.
Andrew Wright’s choreography is slick and faultless, at times leaving one thinking that with all the on-stage frivolity, a cast member could tumble off of the cleverly designed revolve at any moment. But the execution of each move is tight and seemingly effortless. Praise especially to Dex Lee and Idriss Kargbo (Know Moe and Little Moe), their vocals were accomplished and despite not seeming to keep one foot on the ground for very long, there wasn’t a single waver in either of their performances.
The medley arrangement of, Is You Is Or Is You ‘Aint My Baby as the penultimate number is a masterful piece of music, showcasing finitely crisp harmonies, blended with unblemished ease. Led by pianist Steve Hill, the jazz sextet fill the theatre with a lush and authentic jazz feel, Jessamy Holder’s breath taking sax solo’s, though infrequent, proving astonishing. The company should be proud to be paying such a true homage to some of Louis Jordan’s best known numbers.
Five Guys Named Moe triumphs in what is quite possibly the most exciting piece of theatre in the West End.
Runs until 17th February 2017
Reviewed by Charlotte Darcy
Photo credit: Helen Maybanks