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Five Guys Named Moe

The London-bound revival of this musical based on the songs of Louis Jordan proves once again to be a crowd-pleaser.

By London
A scene from Five Guys Named Moe
(© Steve Ullathorne)
A scene from Five Guys Named Moe
(© Steve Ullathorne)
One of the biggest shows at this year's Edinburgh Fringe is the revival of Five Guys Named Moe, the lively, crowd-pleasing musical inspired by and featuring the songs of Louis Jordan, which will return to London this fall two decades after a nearly 20-year absence.

The show's co-author, Clarke Peters, originally played one of the five Moes; but this time around, he's playing Nomax, a middle-aged schlub who neglects his girlfriend and drinks too much. Having been deservedly told where to get off by said girlfriend, a somewhat worse-for-wear Nomax gets sucked into his radio where he encounters the snappily-suited Moes -- Big Moe, Little Moe, Four Eyed Moe, Know Moe and Eat Moe -- who coach him and cajole him and generally help him get his life in order.

To call this a plot would be a real stretch of the term; it's basically a hook (and a lightweight one at that) on which to hang a series of musical numbers that have been energetically choreographed by Paul J Medford (who played Little Moe in the original production). Furthermore, director Paulette Randall ensures the pace never flags.

For the Edinburgh staging, the set has been kept simple, with just the band in the background and a splash of neon. But that's fine, since the cast and the songs are the key things here. The performances are consistently tight and vocally slick -- although Chris Colquhoun as Big Moe and Carlton Connell as Four Eyed Moe have the edge in terms of stage presence.

Audience members are frequently encouraged to participate in the show. There's a call and response on "Caledonia" and some female members of the audience are serenaded on "Look Out Sister." Peters -- who still possesses a fine bass voice -- also participates in several of the numbers, but he gets to sit out the later concert section and watch the warm reaction to the show he created so many years ago.


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