Five Guys Named Moe a blast
Photo provided by CRT
“Sugarbear” Michaels, left to right, Jason Bush, Jeremy Lawrence, Steven Rich and Douglas Lyons at the “Five Guys Named Moe,” playing at Cortland Repertory Theatre.
Go. See. “Five Guys Named Moe.”
That is a command.
The opener to the Cortland Repertory Theatre season is an absolute blast and you only have until June 17 to see it.
Written by Clarke Peters and premiering regionally at the Pavilion Theatre in Little York, the musical looks at Louis Jordan’s greatest hits. But you are not a mute audience member sitting through hit after hit, keeping track of the songs in the program.
No way. The audience is part of this romp, singing along, (we even get words to “Push Ka Pi Shi Pie” in the program, because they really want us to sing), clapping, yelling and hooting. This show makes you feel glad you’re alive, to share Jordan’s sense of fun in the music.
Peters weaves the numbers together through No Max, a young man who opens the play at 4:45 a.m. in his apartment, sunk in the blues, after his girlfriend left him. Five guys: No Moe, Big Moe, Little Moe, Four-Eyed Moe and Eat Moe, magically appear to teach him to grow up, be a man and treat his lady with respect.
“Oh, no, not another song,” he says in dismay, as they show him to step it up a notch, until he gets a hang of it in the second act.
“Five Guys Named Moe” can be seen at the Dwyer Memorial Park theater 7:30 p.m. tonight through Sunday with a 2 p.m. show Friday. It continues with 7:30 performances Tuesday through June 17 and a 2 p.m. matinee Wednesday. Call the box office at (800) 427-6160 for tickets. The show moves along in about two hours, including a 15-minute intermission.
Daniel Hess does an outstanding job directing and choreographing this piece. The players, Devere Rogers as No Max, Douglas Lyons as No Moe, G. “Sugar Bear” Michaels as Big Moe, Jeremy Lawrence as Little Moe, Steven Rich as Four-Eyed Moe and Jason Bush as Eat Moe, are flawless with their dancing, moving in sync, spicing up the stage. They can sing, dance and act.
Louis Jordan (1908-75) was “a major force in revolutionizing the post-war jump and boogie music to mid-50s rhythm and blues,” says a CRT release. He began to work professionally in 1929 and later joined Chick Webb’s orchestra in New York City. Jordan began a solo career in 1938, forming his own group, “The Tympany Five” playing blues, rhythm and blues, jazz and pop music of the day.
His major hits were “Five Guys Named Moe,” “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie,” “Caldonia,” “Saturday Night Fish Fry” “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?” and many more, according to CRT.
The technical crew — sound, stage, costume —and the musicians came together to pull this off, with all the focus on the Moes and their renditions. You never saw a more creative use of the body than when the Moes and No Max do a limbo dance in “Psycho Boy.” And in “Push Ka Pi Shi Pie,” audience members are belting out lines. The Five Moes play the women off the men: “Men, if you can’t stand that woman you came with, don’t sing!” Over on the right side of the audience, a woman started swatting her presumable husband with her playbill (both in fun). Go see this.
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