Musical complilation devised by Clarke Peters and featuring Louis Jordan's greatest hits. Nomax's girl has walked out on him and he's got the blues. As he sits in his apartment drinking with the radio playing, suddenly five 'Moes' - Big Moe, Little Moe, No Moe, Eat Moe and Four-Eyed Moe - all appear from out of the radio to tell him about life and women... all to the soundtrack of Louis Jordan's music.
While Clarke Peters was appearing at the National Theatre in a revival of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, he presented a special 55 minute late night show called A Celebration of Louis Jordan: Five Guys Named Moe that was staged by the cast of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom for three 'after-show' performances on 19, 20 and 26 January 1990. The success of these performances lead to Peters expanding the show more which was then staged for a month long run at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in East London in October 1990 after which it transferred to the West End's Lyric Theatre where it played just over four years before returning for a further seven months at the Albery Theatre.
Five Guys Named Moe - West End London Premiere 1990
Previewed 12 October 1990, Opened 22 October 1990, Closed 24 November 1990 at the Theatre Royal Stratford East
Transferred 14 December 1990, Closed 4 March 1995 at the Lyric Theatre
Returned 25 May 1995, Closed 13 January 1996 at the Albery Theatre (now Noel Coward Theatre)
Directed and choreographed by Charles Augins, designed by Tim Goodchild, costumes by Noel Howard, lighting by Andrew Bridge and sound by Julian Beech. The original cast featured Clarke Peters as 'Four-Eyed Moe', Paul J. Medford as 'Little Moe', Kenny Andrews as 'Big Moe', Peter Alex Newton as 'No Moe', Omar Okai as 'Eat Moe' and Dig Wayne as 'Nomax'.
"Shows which celebrate or anthologise songwriters and dead performers are, to be rigorous, a dangerous theatrical indulgence. The energy and money should be directed at creating something new, rather than trawling the past. But when the archive-raiding produces something as winning and exhilarating as this, Clarke Peters' tribute to bandleader Louis Jordan, such strictures can be laughed out of the theatre. Peters has taken 18 or 20 songs, either written or first made familiar by Jordan in his Forties and early Fifties heyday, and strung them together with a story which never gets in the way of the entertainment... Charles Augins, director and choreographer, gives the songs an impeccable turn-out... The five guys are conjured out of the air by Nomax, listening to Jordan's music on the radio. His life is transformed when these sharp-suited fast-talkers set about improving his attitude, setting him right with his girlfriend and smartening up his image. They do this with songs and dance routines, sometimes letting him respond in kind... The five-piece band at the rear of the stage is exceptionally accomplished: the sound is full and never too loud. Props are flown in or carried on and off the single set; lighting and costumes are faultless. Only audiences allergic to rhythm and blues or in search of a hard time could fail to be charmed by the show." The Times
"Clarke Peters, who has devised Five Guys Named Moe,calls the show a 'revusical'. Whatever you term it, this 90-minute tribute to the black song-writer/saxophonist and rhythm and blues pioneer, Louis Jordan, is a joyous and walloping hit... Of plot there is the merest vestige. A lovelorn guy who has lost his girl is passing a lonely dawn when the eponymous quintet leaps out of the radio to give him lessons on life based on old Jordan numbers. It's a shaky device that means the hero has, at different times, to seem a drunk, a square, a total sexual innocent. But who cares? It is simply an excuse for giving us over 20 vintage Jordan numbers that combine an insistent Forties beat with lyrics that are sharp, sexy and funny... The values may not exactly be those of today; but the songs have an irresistible rhythm that explains why Jordan was a hero to Chuck Berry and Bill Haley. They are also here, staged and choreographed by Charles Augins with enormous wit and verve... The show doesn't tell you much about Louis Jordan, but, with the aid of a first-rate band under Neil McArthur's direction, it brings this neglected musical pioneer back to exuberant life." The Guardian
Five Guys Named Moe in London at the Lyric Theatre opened on 14 December 1990 and closed on 4 March 1995, returned to London at the Noel Coward Theatre opened on 25 May 1995 and closed on 13 January 1996
Five Guys Named Moe - London Revival 2017
Previewed 29 August 2017, Opened 14 September 2017, Closed 24 March 2018 at the Marble Arch Theatre
A major revival of the musical Five Guys Named Moe in London celebrating the songs of forties saxophonist and singer Louis Jordan
PLEASE NOTE: This production is performed 'in-the-round' - the show takes place all around you, with several stages located at the front, centre and sides of the theatre. The theatre itself is a purpose built temporary building located adjacent to the ceremonial arch at Marble Arch.
The cast features Edward Baruwa as 'Nomax', Ian Carlyle as 'Four-Eyed Moe', Dex Lee as 'No Moe', Idriss Kargbo as 'Little Moe', Timothy Martin as 'Big Moe' and Emile Ruddock as 'Eat Moe'. Casting subject to change without notice. Directed by Clarke Peters with musical staging and choreography by Andrew Wright, inspired by original choreography by Charles Augins, designs by takis, lighting by Philip Gladwell and sound by Ben Harrison.
When this production opened at the Marble Arch Theatre in September 2017 Ann Treneman in the Times noted that "this revival of the 1990 production is so full of energy that it zings. The plot revolves around the Moes trying to convince Nomax to stop drinking and go back to his woman, who has dumped him. Mostly it's a ploy to showcase some brilliant numbers with musical staging and choreography by Andrew Wright." Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail highlighted that "everything zips along to the mid-20th century jazz of the late Louis Jordan, a forgotten maestro of the jukebox age. The music is played by a top-rate six-piece band - really good brass and sax... The performances by Edward Baruwa, Ian Carlyle, compact Idriss Kargbo, chunkier Emile Ruddock, Horace Oliver and Dex Lee are tip-top." Tim Auld in the Daily Telegraph described how "the choreography by Andrew Wright is a mixture of slick, relaxed and witty; the singing is accomplished; the dancing and acrobatics at times breathtaking; the music, by a five-man and one-woman band, on the money." Fiona Mountford in the London Evening Standard commented that "there is the possibility of a rollicking good evening. Unfortunately, I found the whole thing interminable. Oh, for a bit of plot to help things along. What we have, however, is a concert of catchy Louis Jordan numbers... Clarke Peters ensures that the energy levels never falter and choreographer Andrew Wright has the sweet-voiced Moes work up a heady sweat as they leap their way around a circular moving walkway." Neil Norman in the Daily Express said that the show "resembles a raucous night in a New Orleans speakeasy where audience members become part of the entertainment... The dancing is cool and slick, ranging from the shimmy-shake to a sequence of James Brown splits from Know Moe that made me wince. And the vocals are even better, with each Moe bringing something to the party. The band rocks and swings with panache... Join the party. It's a gas."
While Clarke Peters was appearing at the National Theatre in a revival of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, he presented a special 55 minute late night show called A Celebration of Louis Jordan: Five Guys Named Moe that was staged by the cast of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom for three 'after-show' performances on 19, 20 and 26 January 1990. The success of these performances lead to Peters expanding the show more which was then staged for a month long run at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in east London (previewed from 12 October 1990, opened on 22 October 1990 and closed on 24 November 1990). The production then transferred the following month to the West End's Lyric Theatre where it played just over four years before returning for a further seven months at the Noel Coward Theatre.
"The plot is paper-thin but it is packed with musical legend Louis Jordan's greatest hits, including Knock me a Kiss, Choo Choo Ch'Boogie and, of course, Five Guys Named Moe. The show tells of Nomax, played by Edward Baruwa, who is heartbroken after his girlfriend dumps him. Five guardian angels, all called Moe, help him piece his love life back together. From the moment they enter, the energy kicks up a gear. Particularly strong are firecracker Idriss Kargbo and the effortlessly soulful Emile Ruddock. In the second act the show reaches its full potential when the often laboured dialogue is ditched for catchy songs. Clarke Peters' direction and Andrew Wright's choreography are superb." The Sunday People
"Clarke Peters's jukebox musical is revived in a pop-up Spiegeltent: the setting says cabaret, the vibe says panto. Under Peters's indulgent direction, running jokelets are milked, audience singalongs are extended and lovely ladies endure protracted banter. A smart cast relish the choreographic flimflam. Misogyny is a harsh word for a good-time show, but it's unsurprising that a project without a single female creative, apart from the saxophonist Jessamy Holder, should make a mess of its approach to women: they're either ruthless mantraps or the meaning of life. Let the good times roll? Not quite." The Sunday Times
"Such is the success of Clarke Peters's warm-hearted, pitch-perfect, high-energy, jukebox tribute show to the rhythm'n'blues sax jazz legend Louis Jordan, that he is reviving it for the umpteenth time in a pop-up theatre designed to bring a flavour of New Orleans in the Fifties to London... The plot is barely there: a drunk, rumpled, weepy Nomax is at home in his apartment, his girlfriend Lorraine having upped and left him. Cue the moody 'It's early in the morning and I ain't got nothing but the blues'. Then, out of his radio spring five bright-eyed and bouncy, zoot-suited guys named Moe, beaming wildly, singing in glorious harmony and dancing up a storm, while dishing up advice to Nomax on his woman problems... It's all done with such effortless charm and infectious exuberance that when the words to Push Ka Pi Shi Pie fluttered down from above, the audience cheerfully raised the roof and then leapt up to join a conga line. The perfect date night." The Mail on Sunday
The musical Five Guys Named Moe in London at the Marble Arch Theatre previewed from 29 August 2017, opened on 14 September 2017 and closes on 17 February 2018