Jul 14, 2008 — The musical Five Guys Named Moe runs at the Depot Theatre in Westport through July 27. Resident theatre critic Connie Meng was at the opening night and has this review.
FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE by Clarke Peters provides plenty of bounce to the ounce. The musical features the songs of composer/lyricist Louis Jordan, perhaps the best known of which is "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby." The show also includes songs by Jon Hendricks, Jo Greene and Louis Jordan's wife Fleecie Moore who wrote "Caldonia." The songs are connected by a very loose plot that's really just an excuse for some terrific performances of some terrific old songs.
Director Chris Patterson has also designed a functional and colorful set that allows the three-piece band to be partially visible upstage behind a scrim. I especially liked the purple refrigerator. Jean Brookman's costumes are also colorful with bright solid color suits and spectator dance shoes. Gary Burlew's lighting highlights the colors and changes of mood.
Musical Director Kenny M. Green has done a fine job with the vocals and harmonies as well as being a dynamite pianist. Jared Young swings on drums as does Michael S. Tomasulo on bass. Near the end of the show I thought, "Wow! What a great bass line." Of course now I'm not sure which of the many great tunes it was.
The gentlemen of the cast are all very good singers, good dancers and have more energy than I've had since I learned to walk. Tyson Jennette as Nomax and Matthew D. Brooks as Four-Eyed Moe do a great job on "I Know What I've Got," as does Larry Darnell Penn Whitfield as Big Moe on "Beware, Brother, Beware."
Jamaal Clark Turpin as Little Moe shines on "I Like 'Em Fat Like That," and D. William Hughes as Eat Moe does a really fine job on the change of pace "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying."
On Jon Hendricks' "Messy Bessy" J. L. Williams as No Moe has great fun and throughout the show just about stops it a number of times with his dancing. The five Moes are especially good as an ensemble in the Cabaret sequence.
Ably directed and, I assume, choreographed by Chris Patterson, FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE flies by. The audience really enjoyed the Act I Finale - a calypso style sing-and-dance along. It's not often I wish that a piece were longer. This production provides an evening of sheer fun and terrific entertainment. Not even a single freight train paused the proceedings!
On a scale of one to five the Depot Theatre production of FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE gets four and seven eighths boxcars. For North Country Public Radio I'm Connie Meng.